Travel to Greece is back again, with budget airlines close to their usual summer schedules and the sun shining on half-full resorts from Ithaca to Evia. But can we buy there, can we move there, what do we need for a golden visa or retirement visa and what’s happened to prices? We asked two experts on buying in Greece your top questions, as sent in to us at email@example.com.
Your Greek property and buying questions
Where are the more expensive and cheaper areas to buy this summer?
The most famous islands are always the more expensive: Santorini, Paros, Naxos, maybe Corfu… Athens is closer in price to those more expensive islands too. Somewhere like Crete offers more options, because the south of the island is cheaper than the north.
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Areas like the Peloponnese and Evia are good options for being close to the sea, but less expensive. Inland prices are much lower of course, but very much fewer international buyers opt for inland.
Where are the most popular areas for British buyers?
The bigger islands are generally most popular for those keen to join an expat community. And of course, the smaller islands don’t have direct flights all year, they tend to stop in October. So British buyers tend to focus on Rhodes, Crete and Corfu. We’re also seeing more in Halkidiki, close to Thessaloniki, especially younger people doing remote working.
We tend to think property upkeep costs will be cheaper in Greece. What would you pay in utilities for a two-bedroom property?
For utility bills on a two-bedroom property, water is very little; around €30-40 per two months. Electricity will be around €100 per two months. Add in the internet and you’re looking at around €160/180 for all utilities. Bear in mind too, that local taxes will be included in utility bills, so you won’t have to pay things like council tax.
Can we get a mortgage from a Greek bank?
Absolutely. Around 40% of purchase can generally be financed, with interest of around 3%. With Greek banks the application has to be for a specific property and price. It can be harder for non-EU citizens but it’s definitely possible.
What happens around negotiating on price: is it normal to haggle?
Greeks like to bargain so negotiating over the price is quite normal. Sometimes a buyer will offer way below the asking price, and sometimes just around €5,000 less. As agents we try to keep buyer and seller happy if possible.
Are there estate agent fees for buyer?
Yes in Greece both seller and buyer pay a commission of around 2-3% of the agreed selling price.
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Your Greek visa and legal questions
How long does the Greek buying process take?
The average time is 20 to 30 days. Greece is well known as one of the most bureaucratic countries in the world and it requires a pile of documentation, mainly from the seller’s side. However, Greece is currently going through transformation of governance to reduce average time for contracts like this.
What are typical lawyer fees for property transactions?
Around 1% of the selling price. There are also some smaller fees such as to get your tax number.
What about taxes?
The transfer tax for buyer of property is 3.09%. In Greece there is a tax property evaluation system, with property given a pre-fixed value, defined by ministry of finance according to predetermined factors such as the size of the property, the floor it’s on etc. This determines what is called the Objective Value, introduced many years ago to prevent tax evasion by buyers and sellers under-declaring the selling price. So you now pay tax on whichever is higher of the Objective Value and the selling price.
From 1 January 2022 the Greek government is raising Objective Values so property transfer taxes will be higher.
What happens with title searches to ensure it’s all legal and no-one else later tells you they own the house you’re buying!?
As lawyer we will do two main searches to ensure the property is free of any lien, tax, right of passage etc. First we check it’s free of any burdens or debts. Secondly we check it with the city planning authorities. It’s very important to make sure that all surfaces are legal and in accordance with city permit.
We also strongly advise clients to appoint their own civil engineer to inspect the property. Really, according to law this is the responsibility of the seller, but it is possible that a seller-appointed surveyor will turn a blind eye to any problems.
Can you organise all the processes for buying in Greece?
Certainly. We act like a one-stop shop, gathering all the professionals involved in the real estate transaction: accountant, notary, civil engineer, even the estate agent.
Tell me about Greece’s golden visa.
This has proven very attractive to foreigners and we have a lot of British people interested in buying in Greece for the visa.
It’s very flexible. It grants the right to reside permanently for those who buy a property of at least €250,000. Even better, it includes the right to reside for children of up to 21, not just 18 like most such resident permits. You can also bring your parents and parents-in-law.
You can do all this from the UK with power of attorney.
What other options are there for non-EU citizens?
There are many kinds. One is as a financially independent person. For this you must have sufficient resources, around €2,000 per month for two years for the first applicant. You have to deposit the full amount in a Greek bank account before you go along to the immigration authorities in Greece to apply.