Buying in Greece?

Buying property of any description in Greece is not difficult, any longer. As long as you deal with reputable, licensed and legal companies and individuals you should have no difficulties in achieving what you set out to do – buying property in Greece.

The process of buying however, is different to many other countries so we will try to answer a few of the very obvious questions you may have. For further clarifications we will be very pleased to answer any of your e mail enquiries info@buy-greek-property.co.uk )

Questions About Buying Property in Greece

Can I buy property in Greece?

Do I need a Greek bank account?

How can I be sure I won’t be ripped off?

Do I have to pay a deposit?

Why should I pay a deposit?

Do I have to have my finance in place prior to making an inspection trip?

What if there is a problem in place with the property I choose or the seller changes his mind?

What taxes do I have to pay on the purchase of my property in Greece?

How much extra should I allow for costs over and above the purchase price?

If I want to build, how do I get planning permission?

What about local council taxes?

How do I pay water and electricity bills if I am not resident in Greece?

Can I buy property in Greece?

Greek laws allow foreigners to own properties in most areas of Greece. European Union citizens who wish to purchase property in border areas (Lesvos is considered a border area) should apply to the Council of the Local Prefecture which grants authorisation. This is a relatively simple procedure done by the Notary engaged to prepare the sale documents on belhalf of the Buyers.

However restrictions apply for Non European Union citizens who wish to buy in border areas (East Aegean, Dodecanese islands, regions of Northern Greece, Crete, Rhodes). The law requires them to apply to the Ministry of Defence which grants authorisation / licence to buy property, which is property specific. This is done by an Authorised Solicitor and the process is long, taking sometimes 6 – 8 months to gain the said Authorisation/ Licence to buy.

Therefore if you are ready to buy property, we DO most strongly advice, before you arrange your viewing trip to Lesvos to view properties and make a selection of a property with a view of buying it, to have collected ALL the required documents in your home country and bring them with you, as they also take time to obtain, depending which is you home country. For example in the USA there is a 6 month waiting time, in Israel a 2 month waiting time. We can provide the list of documents required, so please ASK US. If you leave it to do it after you have chosen a property to buy, it makes the waiting time to complete the sale too long. This on occasions makes the Vendors reluctant to agree to sell to a non EU Citizen as they have to wait for a long period for the licence to be issued.

We have just been informed ( July 2011 ) that this process is under review to change ( for the better )by applying for this licence to Region and not the Ministry of Defence etc etc. We will be posting new information as we have it.

Do I need a Greek bank account?

Yes. This is easy to set up - normally less than an hour at the Bank, if you have a Greek Tax Registration Number (AFM). In fact part of our service is to save you the hassle by registering you at the Tax Office and open a bank account for you. Usually this is done at the end of your viewing schedule as it requires a Power of Attorney Authorisation which can be issued at a Notary’s Office. Also it can be done before you even get to Lesvos ( if required ) provided you send us a Power of Attorney Authorisation, issued at a Greek Embassy . Top

How can I be sure I won’t be ripped off?

Any property conveyancing is always executed before a Notary Public and in the presence of lawyers representing the vendor and the buyer. A buyer needs a lawyer to act on his/her behalf in order to assist with the local regulations, to fix the "assessed tax value", and to ensure that he/she obtains a clean property title. We collaborate with reputable English-speaking lawyers, which we will introduce to you and you can instruct to act for you , if you wish.

Before the transaction takes place, the lawyer representing the buyer carries out searches with the Land Registry to confirm that the property has a clean title deed. Legal procedures in Greece are simple and if all the papers are in order and ready a sale can be completed quite quickly by signing an official contract prepared by the Notary Public.

However rest assured that we will be with you to assist you through the whole process.

Return to top of page?

Do I have to pay a deposit?

To secure your chosen property, a 10% - 25 % deposit on the purchase price is usually required on signing a pre-contract agreement, depending on the circumstances of each case. This agreement contains the names and personal details of the vendor and buyer, the description of the property, the price, the methods of payment, the date by which the sale will be completed and any general conditions negotiated by the parties. In the case of a very cheap property or where the deal will be completed quickly this agreement does not take place and the parties move straight to an exchange of contract phase.

The Notary Public will not authorise any sale without making sure that all the appropriate tax papers and deeds are in order. The Buyer will lose the deposit if he/she backs out of the deal, or if he doesn’t keep to the date by which the sale should be completed and of course looses the right to buy the property. If the Vendor backs out and a pre-contract has been signed, he will have to pay a sum equal to the deposit, as an indemnity to the purchaser, who, of course, gets the original deposit back.

Why should I pay a deposit?

In Greece, unlike in the U.K. and other northern European countries, there are no long chains of people selling and buying property. You are most often buying “a vacant property”, which means that a purchase takes a very short time to conclude, and people mostly are cash buyers. However vendors in Greece are the same as anywhere else – they want to best price they can get for their property and if there is a high interest on their property, this could mean an unexpected hike on the price of the property or a private sale to someone else. The deposit acts as a mutual commitment between the vendor and the buyer.

Do I have to have my finance in place prior to making an inspection trip?

If you are serious about buying a property OR you are close to making a decision on a specific property ( which you will be viewing/inspecting ) , it is a good idea to have your finance in place before you make your inspection trip. At the minimum you should have enough available to put down a deposit. After all, if you find your dream home you will want to make arrangements to buy it as soon as possible. Delays in securing the property may mean you loose the property! You can avoid “gazumping” by putting down a deposit with a pre-sale legal agreement. This will secure the purchase and fix the agreed price.

Return to top of page?

What if there is a problem with the property I choose or the seller changes his mind?

We always advice that a surveyor should be engaged to check out the property ( buildings). We also never advice payment of a deposit, before the survey of the property and the appropriate legal searches show satisfactory results and a topographical document is available. Should the seller decides not to sell after the deposit has been paid, then he must return the amount of the deposit to the buyer and a sum equal to the deposit, as an indemnity to the purchaser.

If the buyer changes their mind after the deposit has been paid the deposit is not returned. The deposit really acts as a mutual legal binding commitment between the vendor and the buyer.

What taxes do I have to pay on the purchase of my property in Greece?

You will have to pay a one off Purchase Tax to the Greek tax authorities.

This amount is based on the "tax assessed value" of the property, which is not the same as the price you are actually paying. Sometimes the “ tax assessed value” is lower occasionally it can be higher. We undertake to negotiate a lower tax figure with the tax assessor, should this become necessary, although we can’t guarantee a successful outcome each time.

Currently ( May 2010) the tax payable is between 8.5 and 10.5 % percent of this Tax assessed value.

How much extra should I allow for costs over and above the purchase price?

We suggest to budget for an extra 12% to 15%, although we can be a little more specific on figures, once you know which property you are interested in.

Return to top of page?

If I want to build, how do I get planning permission?

According to Greek law, if a plot of land is not within the town plan and if there are no forest or archaeology restrictions, permission to build can be granted for any plot of minimum of 4,000m2. Permission can be granted for plots of land of 2,000m2 or less, if they are located within the planning zone or with frontage to the principal municipal road. Inside villages, towns and cities planning permission can be generally granted for much smaller plots. We can recommend English-speaking architects, and engineers who will give advice, work on plans and obtain building permission. Building permits can be only be obtained through registered architects or engineers in Greece . Rates vary according to size of the property planned, therefore it is best to ask us as the need arises.

What about local council taxes ?

There is a very small local council tax which is included in your electricity bill and it gets calculated on the size of the property / buildings. The electricity bill arrives every two months and the tax is so small as to be almost unnoticeable. This bill also includes your TV licence fee (actually radio licence !!! ) - whether you have one or not!

How do I pay water and electricity bills if I am not resident in Greece ?

You can pay your electricity bill by arranging a standing order at your bank. The water bills are paid at the Town Hall of the Municipality where you bought your property. Some Town Halls are more efficient than others in issuing the bills on time, therefore our advice will be more specific for each case as it arises.

Return to top of page?