Buy Greek Property – Questions and Answers
In this final part, I will attempt to answer any questions you may have concerning the purchase of your Greek property. As always, I will point out that I am not a lawyer or architect, so you should seek professional advice before signing anything or handing over any money.Many of these questions may have been answered in earlier Hubs, so please feel free to visit for a stage-by-stage breakdown of the process for purchasing Greek real estate.
My Estate Agent recommended a Greek Lawyer. Should I use them?
As a simple answer, no. Whilst most Greek real estate agents are honest, there are some unscrupulous individuals who will attempt to stitch you up dump illegal property on you, ensuring that their tame lawyer manipulates the contract to their advantage. Always find you own lawyer, make sure that they speak English, and have every document you receive translated into English. As an example, I know of many people who have had trouble with the very dishonest Re/Max real estate agents in Greece, concerning dodgy lawyers, so they are a company that I advise anybody to avoid.
Put it this way: There are horror stories about Greek property purchases but most of these were avoidable. Most people would not trust estate agents in their own country, and buying a house in Greece is no different. Always find your own lawyer and be prepared to walk away if you feel uneasy.
Do I have to use a Greek Real Estate Agent?
Private property sales are very common in Greece, especially because they save the vendor and the buyer up to 3% of the market value of the property. In addition, property is always overpriced in estate agents, so spending a little time searching an area and asking the locals can be very profitable.
My lawyer discovered that there were some legal issues with the Greek property. What can I do?
Your pre-contract should include a clause that allows you to back out of the agreement and recover your deposit. Many such problems are due to shared ownership issues or illegal construction: You can choose to sit it out, if you have your heart set on a a Greek property, or you can walk away without financial punishment. Ask your lawyer to suggest the best course of action
I have had some problems and can no longer complete the purchase of my Greek house. What are my options?
If you signed the pre-contract, that is a sign of a clear intent to purchase and you will lose your deposit. For this reason, it is essential that you are 100% certain that this is the best move and that you have all of the finances in place. The only exception is if you only have a mortgage ‘in principle,’ for which you can have an escape clause inserted into the pre-contract.
The vendor has had a better offer and has changed their mind. What happens next?
In the same way that you signed the pre-contract as a clear intent to buy, they have signed the contract stating that they have a clear intent to sell. If they decide to back out, they must return your deposit and also pay you the same again, as compensation. This prevents gazumping and ensures that you have cast-iron legal protection if the vendor has problems.
What do the Greeks think about foreigners buying property?
In the vast majority of cases, the warmth of the Greek people makes them very welcoming to foreigners and they will open their doors to you. However, as with any country, there will always be resentful people. If you intend to buy a Greek luxury property to live in for long periods, it is advisable to rent for a few months first and get a feel for the area.
In rural areas, where people have moved away and populations are declining, most Greeks are delighted to see old Greek stone houses renovated and life return. Don’t be surprised if your neighbours regale you with stories about the history of your house and the family who used to live there.
I am interested in buying a plot of land and building a Greek property. What are the restrictions?
The laws concerning plot sizes and building permission vary from place to place, so you should seek the advice of your lawyer or architect before proceeding. Across most of Greece, outside of towns, you must buy a minimum of 4000m2, upon which you can usually build up to 250m2. If the plot is within a designated planning zone or is next to the road, this plot size may be reduced to a minimum of 2000m2. In towns and villages, it is possible to build upon much smaller plots and with a greater density. Before buying a plot, check the local laws and makes sure that you pay for a proper topographical survey: it is better to spend a little on a land surveyor than find out that the plot you purchased is too small for development.
The other factor to consider in Greece is the land type; if the land is designated as protected forest, then you will not be allowed to build and will be left with an expensive and unsellable plot. The other thing to consider is the archaeology – if the plot is in an area of archaeological interest and a survey finds even a small pottery shard, your development could be held up for years as the archaeologists excavate.
The easiest way around the laws, as a rule of thumb only, is to buy a plot that already has residential property marked on the official plans. Even if it is a pile of rubble, you will be allowed to develop property with the same footprint. Ask your lawyer to check the official land registry to determine if there was a house there. In one case, a gentleman produced aerial photographs from 1947, which clearly showed a house, so he was allowed to build!
What is the Housing Market like in Greece, especially considering the Recession?
Apart from some of the prime property hotspots in Greece, the market for property has remained buoyant throughout the crisis, mainly because Greece did not have much of a property bubble. Property investments in Greece are not going to generate quick profits, but as a steady addition to a property portfolio, they are a safe investment.
Can I get a Greek Mortgage?
Greek banks are happy to give out mortgages to foreigners, although they are a little stricter than Northern Europeans and are reluctant to offer you over 3x your income, unless you have a sound business plan. This, more than anything else, is one of the reasons why Greek banks were relatively unscathed by the toxic loans crisis.
Further Questions about Greek Luxury Property
If you have any further questions, please leave a comment and I will try my best to answer or I will find someone who does know.
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