For a foreigner the Greek real estate market can be mind-boggling experience and at first seems to be a very complicated purchasing process. Approaching the problem step by step shows that it is not that hopeless.
By law foreigners can own property in most areas of Greece. However, there are some restrictions on property purchase that apply in border areas (eastern Aegean, Dodecanese Islands, regions of northern Greece, Crete and Rhodes) for non-European Union citizens. In such cases, non-EU citizens must apply to the council of the local prefecture. Some real estate agents offer assistance with this procedure.
Below are a few general tips and information foreigners should bear in mind when purchasing property in Greece.
• COST OF BUYING PROPERTY IN GREECE: When buying property in Greece add at least 12%- 15% of the purchase price for fees and taxes, including a property-transfer tax of 7 to 11 per cent. Lawyers fees 1-2%, other expenses approx 1% for notary fees and land registry. Local municipal tax or community tax is currently calculated at 3% of the purchase tax and is paid together with the purchase tax. Annual taxes are payable in Greece on properties owned over the value of 200,000 Euros. The valuation of properties is carried out by the government which provides published values, announced for every type of property.
• AFM ( V.AT number) : All buyers of property in Greece must have a Greek tax roll number (AFM) which is issued by the tax offices. It’s free and issued on the spot. Greeks and EU citizens must show their ID card. Foreigners living in Greece are required to present their passport or another valid document of identification and their residence permit. Greeks and foreigners who permanently reside abroad can also apply for an AFM. They must submit the application to a special tax office located at 18 Lykourgou St, Omonia
• SETTING UP A BANK ACCOUNT: All transactions are in Euros. You will need to set up a Greek bank account to pay for your legal advice, transfer money and pay bills. There are foreign exchange brokers that can transfer large amounts to Greece according to the business rate. Payment of utility bills can be set up very easily by direct debit via the bank, and money can be transferred online.
• THE “PINK SLIP”: The ‘pink slip’ for wire transfers of money from abroad. If the buyer cannot justify the amount of money they have spent, the Greek tax authorities will assign it as unreported income and the buyer will be assessed income tax.
• HOLIDAY HOMES: Letting a holiday home short-term is not easy. Different areas vary, but generally you can let only for three months or more - and to holiday-makers only if you have a licence from the Greek Institute of Tourism.
• INSURANCE: If you intend to use your home only for holidays, insurance can be arranged through your Greek Bank for fire and storm damage. However insurance for theft may only available if you live in your property throughout the year. There are company's in the UK that can offer full insurance (3rd party for example).
• LAWYERS ('DIKIGOROS'): Get an English-speaking lawyer. The British Consul's provide list of recommended lawyers. Beware of buying a property that belongs to more than three family members. And take photocopies of everything. The lawyer conducts the title search at the relevant land registry.
• A CIVIL ENGINEER ('POLITIKOS MICHANIKOS'): may be hired to review a specific plot and to ensure that boundaries are within the description in a title document. They can also be consulted regarding specific building restrictions in place in your chosen area.
• PUBLIC NOTARY (SYMVOLEOGRAPHOS): The notary public is independent of either the seller or the purchaser. He draws up the contract for transfer of property and the various terms and conditions contained therein.
• REAL ESTATE AGENT: The Real Estate Agent's fees are usually paid by the vendor. All expenses for the conclusion of the final contract, including the tax on property transfer will be borne by the buyer. Each party will pay the fees of their legal representative who must be present at the signing of the contract; this is required by Greek Law.