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Buying

Compared to some EU countries, the house purchase procedure in Greece is quite straightforward, but you should be aware that the actual house buying costs are amongst the highest in Europe – approximately 13-15% on top of the purchase price. However, this can be offset somewhat by the competitively priced property in the region.

Importantly, it is not necessary to be a Greek national to be able to purchase a property in Greece as all property owners have equal rights and all properties in the region are sold as freehold. If you choose to make a purchase off plan it is vital to check with local authorities about any applicable building regulations and that there are no restrictions as this is an area where there are strict rules to prevent certain regions in Greece from being developed.

Obtaining a mortgage from a Greek lender is not as straightforward as it would be from a UK lender for instance and you should note that mortgage interest rates in Greece are amongst the highest in Europe. Mortgage lending criteria are traditionally known as rather archaic in Greece. For example, there are no “buy to let” mortgages available whatsoever. When taking these aspects into account, it is often advised to obtain finance for a property in Greece from either remortgaging your existing home or to pay cash if possible. Long term, the good news is that the system is slowly being overhauled to bring the system more into line with those of other European nations.

Once you have the finance in place and you have targeted your dream property in the sun, your next step should be to locate a solicitor. The solicitor will act on your behalf by recommending a surveyor and an accountant as well as providing the all important legal advice. Your solicitor will typically charge 1-2% of the final price of the property and you should be able to find a local, independent solicitor that can advise you in English. You should employ the services of a civil engineer to ensure that your property is structurally sound because Greece is a seismic region and also you should consult with a land surveyor who will ensure that all planning permissions and construction are within permitted regulations.

The legal fees will include the cost of a notary public. They are appointed to ensure that the sale is legal and all property sales must go on public record in the appropriate land registry. This is an important step, as the notary public will not let any sale complete without all of the legal requirements having been completed satisfactorily.

If your property is near a national border, you will need to apply for a permit called a “Blue Card” that will provide you with a permit for temporary residence. You will find that this is particularly prevalent on Greek Islands such as Rhodes, or Crete. It is usually a formality for EU citizens to receive a blue card and they can be applied for at a local police station. It will usually take 2 weeks for the Blue Card to be issued. Alternatively, you could grant your solicitor “Power of Attorney” and they could apply for you in your absence. If you are a non- EU national you will need to receive a special permit from the Ministry of Defence based in Athens. Once the permit has been authorised, you will need to obtain a “tax registry” or “tax roll number” (AFM), which can be picked up from the tax office providing that you have your passport and birth certificate. Similarly, if your solicitor has Power of Attorney, they can do this on your behalf. An AFM is mandatory for all buyers.

The next step is for a buyer to open a Greek bank account whereupon all payments will be made from. All that is needed to open an account is your AFM and ID. The account will prove that funds have been transferred from the UK and as such will be tax free. A pre-contract will then be signed by both buyer and seller detailing the sale terms and payment, and a 10% deposit will then secure that the property will be taken off the market. If the buyer is to pull out of the sale once the deposit has been paid and the pre-contract signed, the deposit will be lost. If the seller pulls out of the property once the contract has been signed, the buyer will receive their deposit back in double! The buyer’s solicitor will then carry out legal surveys, checks on property title and property tax.

Due to the relatively undeveloped property market in Greece, it is important that your solicitor thoroughly checks the title deeds otherwise if there is no proof of ownership of a property it is unlikely that it will have been registered with the town planners. This can leads to all sorts of problems and delays with the sale.

If you do not already file income tax in Greece, it will be necessary to do so the following year of your purchase. Incorporated in this will be declarations of the price of the purchase and origin of the funds. If the money cannot be accounted for satisfactorily, the buyer could be liable for income tax.

The legal work associated with a house purchase usually takes 6-8 weeks and if the searches pull up any problems, the deposit will be refunded in full. If all is in order, the buyer will need to return to Greece to sign the contract. Alternatively, under Power of Attorney, your solicitor could do this for you. Upon completion, all fees and taxes must be paid, which usually range from 13-15% of the total price of the property.

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