How to buy property in Greece: the complete guide for foreigners

If you are looking to buy property in Europe, getting a home in Greece is one of the best options for foreigners. It is a transparent and affordable way to become a permanent European resident.

Greece is a very popular destination for many expats. More than a thousand foreigners have become Greek residents in the past few years. If you do it right, buying a property in the Hellenic Republic will be one of the best decisions for you as an investor.

There are less-known requirements and legal risks associated with Greek real estate investing. We recommend doing necessary due diligence before settling on a property. We have created this guide for buying real estate in Greece to make the process of buying a house easy and hassle-free.

What property in Greece can you buy as a foreigner?

If you’re thinking of buying properties in Greece, learn what your options are. Any foreigner can become a Greek resident. However, for some, it is much easier. The EU residents have a green light when it comes to buying property.

If you are a non-EU citizen looking to make Greece your home, be ready to do some work. You need to prove that you have substantial funds obtained by legal means. You will have to submit proof of your income, specifically tax returns, documentary proof of inheritance, dividends, rental income or income from a property sale, together with a letter of employment.

What are the requirements of becoming a property owner in Greece?

You already have a registration card or even a residence permit. Great! But you cannot own residential or commercial property unless you pay taxes in Greece. Start with opening an account in a Greek bank. If you already have a bank account, apply for a tax number. To get the number, go to the nearest tax office. You don't have to schedule an appointment.

Here is the list of documents you should have before you go property shopping:

  • a passport,

  • a Tax Registry Number (AFM),

  • a Greek visa for non-EU citizens,

  • proof of residence in Greece,

  • a copy of your annual tax returns,

  • sometimes, additional ID proofs might be needed.

How to find the real estate that is right for you?

When it comes to choosing the best place for buying property, Greece offers many great choices. Both the mainland and Greek islands have a selection of vibrant tourist cities and small and quiet fishing villages.

Athens is one of the oldest capitals in the world. A beautiful mix of history and modernity, the city has many benefits for people who prefer to lead an active lifestyle. It's also pretty costly, with apartments being the most affordable option for most expats.

Zakynthos is a party island that has many world-famous resorts. Settling there is a great choice for those who want to enjoy the nightlife.

Corfu has a large European expat community. It is a famous tourist destination with beautiful beaches and UNESCO heritage areas.

Rhodes is a logistics hub with great connections to the rest of Europe. Rhode remains the most popular option for buying holiday real estate in Greece. It is a little more expensive compared to other islands. But having a holiday home there is well worth it.

Kefalonia is the island haven for those who want to escape big city life. Sleepy fishing villages and a meditative sea will keep you in a relaxing mood.

Peloponnese is famous for its agricultural produce, especially olives. If you enjoy farm life and great local food, consider settling there.

Crete is a safe, comfortable island with well-developed infrastructure. From larger cities on the coast to tiny mountain villages it has everything in one place.

How to deal with estate agents in Greece?

There are more than 2,000 real estate agents in Athens alone and thousands more in other Greek cities and towns. Most property sales in the country that involve foreign buyers are handled by the agents.

You can work directly with a Greek real estate or developer's agent since most of them speak English. A more popular option is to hire a legal representative in your own country who will deal with his colleagues in Greece.

Agents usually offer a full range of services from choosing a property to hiring interior decorators. They can even supervise a restoration or reconstruction of your property. Agent fees are usually included in the building's price. But they also may receive commissions from affiliated businesses in Greece. Be sure to find an agent you can trust.

According to Greek laws, all agents must have licenses and professional qualifications. It's better to hire a real estate agent who is a member of a respectable professional association. For example, the European Confederation of Estate Agents (CEI) has a strict code of conduct for its members.

Before hiring an agent you could take a look at real estate listings in Greece. There are some websites that provide such information. Alternatively, you can ask your legal representative to gather information for you. There is no national listings registry in Greece. Real estate agents often give minimal information to buyers unless they go on a viewing trip.

Viewing and reserving the property

Most agents and property developers organize special viewing trips. Often the cost of the trip is refunded if an investor decides to buy the property. If you have the time and finances for such trips, take them as often as possible. You can also compile a list of places and properties that interest you the most and ask the agent to organize the viewing. A smart choice is to compare the offers from different developers before finalizing your decision.

If you like what you see, you can reserve the property by making a 10% deposit. You then will sign a preliminary contract. Always consult with your lawyer before signing any agreements.

Contracts, payments, and registering the property

Here is a list of steps you need to make to become a property owner in Greece.

  1. Choose the place to live. You can find a lot of useful information online, especially in the expat and investor forums.

  2. Hire an agent.

  3. Take a viewing trip to inspect the property and surrounding area.

  4. Prepare the documents.

  5. Find the property you like.

  6. Hire a lawyer to do a legal inspection of the property.

  7. Order a technical survey of the property.

  8. Make an offer to the seller and negotiate the deal.

  9. Make sure that you have a Greek tax number.

  10. Have a notary present to sign the final contract.

  11. Pay all the fees and taxes, including the 3% property transfer tax.

Owners of the Greek property living abroad need to declare it. Present documents, including the deed, proof of the registration in the land registry to the authorities. Provide survey maps and building permits, if necessary.

Here are the additional taxes and fees that you will have to pay:

  • agent fees are between 2–3% plus VAT,

  • notary fees are between 0.65–1% plus VAT,

  • lawyer fees are between 0.40–1% plus VAT,

  • public registration fees are 0.5% plus VAT,

  • exchange rate (bank-specific).

Can you buy the property without visiting it?

It is possible to purchase real estate in Greece without being present at the signing of the final contract. To do that, you need to give power of attorney to your legal representative. If you are a non-EU citizen, you will have to do that before a Greek Consular authority or a Greek notary.

Your lawyer now can sign all necessary paperwork to make you the new owner.

What's the Greek property market like in 2021?

Recently, the economy has been slowly recovering from a long crisis. Starting with the market crash in 2009, the economy was hit again by the coronavirus pandemic. It brought the housing market prices down.

The market has recovered somewhat in 2019, and the prices have been slowly rising since that at a 3–4% rate. Experts agree that when the pandemic restrictions will be lifted, the Greek economy will continue its recovery. This means that buying real estate in Greece has a good chance of being a good investment opportunity.

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