Property Sales in Greece – Avoiding The Pitfalls
For many people, owning a Greek property is part of a dream to sample the unique lifestyle in this corner of the Mediterranean. The history, unique culture, natural wonders and the benign climate draw thousands of foreign homebuyers every year, eager to own a part of the Greek dream. For others, buying a luxury Greek property is an investment and, despite taxation, buying real estate can yield a quick profit.
Buying property in Greece is much easier since the process was clarified, a few years ago, and investing in Greek property is no more difficult than in the UK, US or Canada. Whatever your nationality, you are entitled to exactly the same protections, and are subject to the same laws as the Greeks. Whilst some parts of Greece are expensive to invest in property, others are still undervalued and offer the chance to afford investment properties overseas at much lower cost than Northern Europe and the US.
Greek Building Regulations and Land Ownership
There are many options when buying a Greek house or apartment, from modern bespoke villas overlooking the coast, to traditional stone houses in need of renovation. Add townhouses and off-plan condos to the mix and there is no shortage of options, whether you are after a sound luxury property investment or a holiday home to enjoy the laid-back lifestyle and a dose of Mediterranean sun.
The nationwide land registry is underway, clearing up any outstanding issues of who owns what, and the beauty of buying a Greek home is that all land is freehold, so there will never be any issues with renewing leases. In addition, Greek buildings are always built to a very high standard, due to the strict earthquake regulations in this part of the world.
Whether you decide to buy a luxury modern home or invest in a true labour of love, by renovating a traditional Greek stone house, ensuring that you have the best people around you is key to success, and you should begin the search for an excellent lawyer, a trustworthy contractor and an experienced architect. These professionals will ensure that you investment in luxury Greek property goes smoothly, with the whole process typically taking between six and eight weeks.
Finding a Greek Property Lawyer
Your first task when seeking to invest in Greek property is to find a reliable and trustworthy lawyer, either by asking friends, or by contacting your national embassy, who usually maintain lists of reliable, English-speaking Greek lawyers. The lawyer will be able to help you through the entire process, from applying for a Greek tax number (AFM), through to signing the final contract and receiving the keys to your luxury Greek property.
The Greek lawyer will:
- Guide you through the process of applying for an AFM number.
- Carry out a background check and ensure that the title deeds do not have any issues with shared ownership or unpaid taxes.
- Ensure that there are no issues with outstanding mortgage repayments, debts, or claims secured against the property.
- Ensure that there are no issues with rights of way or access issues.
If you trust your lawyer and do not wish to stay in Greece whilst the process is completed, you can grant the lawyer the power of attorney and they will complete the entire process for you.
A good Greek lawyer is truly worth their weight in gold and will continue to make your life much easier throughout your time in Greece.
Greek Notary Services
The public notary is an essential part of the process and must be present when any contracts are signed. They will prepare the pre-contract and make the necessary amendments before the final document is sealed. The notary represents the state and will have no input concerning the content of the actual contracts; their job is to ensure that all of the legal requirements concerning the state’s interests are met.
Your own lawyer is responsible for ensuring that the contract is fair and protects you. When buying Greek property, contracts are iron-clad so you must be 100% certain before signing or risk losing your deposit. The notary will also provide you with a full breakdown of all the taxes and payments required, so that you will know exactly how much you will be spending. Bear in mind that the Greek estate agent’s fees are not part of this and you will need to negotiate the rate before purchase.
Find a Professional Land Surveyor
The land surveyor is an essential part of the purchase process, especially as the Greek government forges ahead with tightening the land registry. The land surveyor will delineate the boundaries of the property and ensure that all of the buildings on the land conform to the legal requirements.
Once the final contract is signed, any fines resulting from illegal buildings will fall upon you and you have no claim over the previous owner. During the drafting of the pre-contract and the exchange of deposits, ensure that the lawyer inserts a clause allowing you to pull out, without losing your deposit, if there are any problems with illegal construction.
Finding Greek Architects
If the Greek luxury property is in need of repair or renovation, an experienced Greek architect will be able to tell you exactly how much you will need to spend. Whatever figure they tell you, make sure that you have half as much again available in case of problems. The architect will also be aware of any building restrictions; many parts of Greece insist that you use local materials, which increases the cost. Finally, if you need a new roof, you must employ a certified architect to ensure that the roof conforms to the Earthquake Regulations.
Finding a Greek Builder
For any building work, even if you intend to self-build your Greek luxury property, you should hire an experienced local contractor. They will be able to organise sub-contractors and source materials, with a minimum of fuss. The only way to find a good Greek contractor is by asking around and ensuring that they have an excellent reputation, as well as some examples of their work.
Using a Greek Accountant Service
It is not essential to have an accountant during the purchasing process, but you will need one eventually. As a property owner in Greece, you must fill in a tax return form at the end of the year, even if it is a nil-return. The accountant will help you with this.
With this team of professionals representing your interests, you are now ready to embark upon the road to owning your investment property overseas. The next stage is to navigate the tangled Greek bureaucracy, covered in the guide at:
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