Freequently Asked Questions
on All the Legal Issues of the Real Estate Market in Greece
1) Is buying property in Greece a good investment?
You worked a lifetime (and keep working) hard and now you get a chance to enjoy the labors of a lifetime. And which is best destination for that purpose if not the “land of Gods”, Greece, with its countless islands, beautiful countryside, stunning beaches and mountains. Greece offers a unique opportunity for investment, as the economic crisis led to a drop in prices by 40% in real estate. It also offers a wide range of property, capable to satisfy every desire.
2) Is buying property in Greece time consuming and difficult?
No, because now the registration system has been introduced and buying property became a fast process and can be completed within a few days. Having decided the property of your choice and making sure, with the assistance of an attorney, that the property does not have any charges, you are ready to start.
3) What is the process of buying property in Greece?
Once you‘ve decided the property you are interested in, the steps to be followed are:
1. Choosing a Lawyer
The lawyer will help you complete the purchase without problems and will represent you as needed. He will also do the research on the property at the Mortgage Registry.
2. Choose a Notary
This option is necessary, since any transfer of property must be done under the presence of a notary. The notary does not represent either the buyer or the seller, is a civil servant and under his presence the contracts are read, understood and signed. The notary then prepares the draft agreement and is responsible for the certification and registration of the transaction in the public records so that the buyer can receive a deed for the property.
3. Issue Tax Identification Number (TIN)
The buyer must issue a tax number, if he/she does not already have one, in order to continue the process of buying the property.
4. Payment of transfer tax
The buyer must pay the transfer tax to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) before the signing of the final contract. In this process a lawyer would be helpful.
5. Signing of contract and transfer at the Mortgage Registry
The contract is signed by both parties under the presence of a notary, who will then transcribe the contract at the Mortgage Registry, at the region the property belongs, which will keep a copy of the contract.
Note: only the original contract in Greek is signed, which remains in the archives of the notary. If the buyer wishes can hire an interpreter who translates word for word the contract. In the end, the interpreter swears he got right translation and sign below the buyer. Then the buyer has the right to receive a copy of the contract and ask for a translation from the Translation Services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or from a lawyer who knows the language, at buyer’s expense.
4) What are the expenses of the buyer?
Since 01/01/2014 the presence of a lawyer in drafting and signing a property transfer contract is optional for all parties. However, it is useful to have a lawyer who will help you and will make you feel secure. The fee depends on the agreement you make with him, but usually starts from 1% for values up to 44.000€, reduced to 0.5% for a value of over 44.000€ up to 1.407.000€ and drops to 0.4% if the value stated in the contract exceeds 1.407.000€. The legal control of the property charged additionally, usually ranges from 100€ to 150€.
The notary’s fee starts from 1% for values up to 120.000€, reduced to 0.7% for a value of over 120.000€ up to 380.000€ and drops to 0.65% if the value stated in the contract exceeds 380.000€ and is up to 2.000.000€. On the notary’s fee, VAT 24% is added, and buyer will be asked to pay an additional amount for each sheet of the contract (usually 4-5€ per sheet).
This amount is paid to the IRS and is equal to 3% of the contract value. When it comes to first transfer of the property, for secondary residence, with construction permit from 01/01/2006 onwards, the buyer is charged 24% VAT. In all other cases applies the conveyance tax of 3%. In addition, an amount equal to 3% of the tax is paid to the municipality.
Registration fees in the Land Registry
The registration fee of the contract to the Land Registry is 0.475% of the value of the property. In addition, an amount equal to 0.125% of the property value is paid for the Legal Fund.
Real estate agent expenses
The agent’s fee is 2-5% of the property value (+ 24% VAT).
For properties under 50.000€, the fee is 1000€ plus the legal VAT(24%)
5) Is it possible for the EU citizens to acquire property in Greece?
Yes, the buying procedure of real estate in Greece for EU citizens is the same as for Greek citizens.
6) Is it possible for non-EU citizens to acquire property in Greece?
Restrictions apply only to non-European citizens who want to buy real estate in border areas such as the eastern Aegean, the Dodecanese, Thrace and other regions of Northern Greece.
The removal of these restrictions is achieved by the grant of a license granted by the Ministry of National Defence following a request submitted to the appropriate committee of the Decentralized Administration in that region.
Documentation required for the lifting of the ban:
• Registration data of the property in the Land Registry and statement of intended use
• Photocopy of valid passport
• Recent Criminal Records certificate from the competent Ministry of the country of purchaser
• Power of attorney by which a lawyer will be authorized to sign the application in the name and on behalf of the buyer (if the buyer wishes, for his own convenience)
All documents should be certified and officially translated in Greek language.
7) What about residence permits for non-EU citizens?
Non-EU citizens who own or intend, documented, to acquire real estate in Greece, have the right to obtain a residence permit for five years if the minimum height of the property is two hundred and fifty thousand euros (250,000€). The same applies if they have concluded at least ten-year lease of hotel accommodation or tourist furnished residential complex in tourist accommodation, if the minimum amount of the lease is hundred and fifty thousand Euros (250,000€).
8) How can I transfer money from my country?
This can happen with a standard bank transfer from your account to an account in Greece. Our advice to the buyer is to document officially all sums which he/she deposits for the purchase of a property, so that in case of resale these sums could be repatriated.
9) How can I open a bank account?
This can happen by giving the bank a copy of your passport, residence and work address, telephone number and certificate of residence issued by the administrative authorities. If you open a standard bank account, except those mentioned above the presence of one of the interested parties would be needed.
10) What are the annual costs of owning property in Greece?
Property Tax (called ENFIA): The EN.F.I.A. is divided into “main” and “complementary”. The main tax is calculated for all rights in property (houses and other buildings, land, off city plan land). The complementary EN.F.I.A. is calculated on the value of the rights of full ownership, bare ownership and usufruct on buildings and plots within city plan. The complementary ENFIA is calculated at the proportion of the total value of entitlements that exceeds 300,000 euros, with rates ranging from 0.1% to 1%.
Municipal Taxes and Fees: depend on the value and size of the property. Levied through electricity bills, ranging from 0.2%-0.8% of the property value.
11) About the property insurance
The property is secured by insurance companies. Insurance policies cover all potential losses, such as theft, fire, earthquake, storm, etc. The insurance of the property is not mandatory, but is required by the financial institutions to mortgage the property.
12) How is the ownership of a property secured?
Ownership of properties in Greece ensured via the State called Land Registry. In this all deeds are kept and all encumbrances over the property are registered. Properties archived based on the names of their owners and lawyers have the right to check the property of each person or company. This is where research of notary deeds are maid relating to any claims or encumbrances over the property. The research of the deeds also shows if the property has been transferred properly. This happens always during the process of the conclusion of the deal.