Let’s face it, Greece’s popularity doesn’t lie in being a place where it’s easy to get boring things done quickly. It’s a place to do enjoyable things slowly! That’s why we love it here. And when it comes to buying a Greek home, the processes are straightforward, if occasionally long-winded. The good news is that there is always someone to help you. Diana from Corfu Home Finders explains how to make the Greek property buying system work.
The first rule when doing anything at all in Greece is make 20 copies of your passport and take it everywhere you go! Generally to function with any level of government or local authority you will need to prove your ID, so never forget your passport, even if you haven’t been warned in advance, always take it with you.
Get a residence permit
All right, having said that, to buy a property in Greece at the moment, you do not need a residence permit. This does seem rather odd, since you do need one in order to buy a boat or a car. However, since we are still living in the shadow of Brexit it is a good idea to get a permit anyway, since the rules may change in the future. I was also informed at a local authority office the other day that if I wanted them to verify paperwork of any type they would need my resident permit, so it seems definitely worth doing.
Get your AFM number
There is a series of steps to take to make sure you have everything you need. Firstly, once you know you are buying a property here you will need a tax number (AFM). This is the golden number which is written on all your paperwork – purchase contract, electricity bill, water bill etc.
You can obtain this yourself by going to your local Tax Office, but personally I tend to feel that life is too short! You will be retaining a lawyer anyway to handle the purchase of your property, and he or she will have your full personal information. So they can obtain the tax number on your behalf. This number never changes, it stays with you and is relevant to any transactions you carry out in Greece.
Open your bank account
You will need to open a bank account. You can either do this yourself, or if you give a Power of Attorney to your lawyer, they can open on your behalf. In order to open the account the bank requires:
- Recent mobile and land line phone bill.
- Recent utility bills for electricity or water.
- Last Tax Return or P60 or P45 – or certified accounts if you are self-employed.
- Any document that has the NI number, if it is not shown on your Tax Return.
- Latest monthly salary receipt (or any other document that proves your occupation).
- Bank statements going back at least 12 months.
- Copies of Birth Certificates for all persons who will be named on the property purchase contract.
- Copies of all passports.
- Marriage certificate (only if property will be purchase jointly between spouses).
- Tax Residency Certificate from HM Inland Revenue Office.
You will also be asked to deposit funds, usually within 30 days, of €10,000. These funds represent a minimum amount in order to open the account, and can form part of the funds required for payment of transfer tax and legal fees for your purchase. If the funds are not deposited the account remains inactive. Once the account is open you will have access to debit cards/online banking and telephone banking, both of which can be carried out in English. You can then arrange to pay your utility bills through the bank once your purchase is completed and the bills have been changed into your name.
Apart from establishing yourself with your bank and tax office, to buy property here you will several professionals to help you. First is the lawyer, responsible for all the background searches relating to the ownership history of the property. Your lawyer will employ an engineer for you, whose responsibility is to check the status of the property in accordance with its planning permission.
The notary plays a large part. It is their responsibility to collate all the information on the property and the area in order to calculate the ‘tax value’ of the property. The one-off property transfer tax is calculated on this. However, the ‘tax value’ is not the same as the actual market price of the property, and should not be used for comparison purposes. It is purely a value calculated by the tax office based on a large number of computations such as location/distance to the sea/distance to amenities etc.
This ‘property transfer tax’ should not be confused with the annual property taxes (ENFIA). These are calculated on the price per M2 for the area in which the property is located, currently between €3 and #6 per M2, multiplied by the M2 of build, plus a tiny additional cost for the M2 of garden/land and an additional ‘luxury’ tax for swimming pools. This is issued annually, and payable either in one payment or in 4 payments throughout the year. This is currently being reviewed by the newly elected government and apparently will be reduced.