Why buy a property in Greece?
Greece is a country which still offers you more for your money than the UK. Many people are thrilled to find out that for the price of a 2 bed flat in a major city of UK they can buy perhaps a villa with sea views in parts of Greece. For the equivalent cost, the standard of living you will have in Greece is higher than you would have in the UK too.
Greece has retained its rural identity and people have not forgotten how to live life as a community. Although times have changed a little, the lunchtime break is still a big deal and you will often find families getting together for a sociable meal rather than "eating on the go". Most villages and small towns still make a real effort to organise get-togethers, especially over religious times like Easter.
Additional to this, Greece offers better weather, tastier food, more public holidays and spectacular views. Whether you're looking for a spacious flat, a sea-side villa or a rustic property with an olive grove, Greece will have something for everyone.
Getting started - is it possible for you to buy a property in Greece?
EU nationals can buy property freely in Greece and are treated as citizens. Other countries may find that some restrictions apply. Purchasing property near military bases or national borders requires special permission from the Local Council. These areas include the Eastern Aegean, the Dodecanese Islands, regions of northern Greece and parts of Crete and Rhodes. These restrictions go way back and are often a mere formality for EU citizens but permission may be far more difficult to obtain for non-EU nationals. A good estate agent will usually be able to advise and assist you on any restrictions.
To find out more on how to get started on your Greek property buying journey, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Greek Property Buying Guide.
Finance - how much does it cost to buy a property in Greece?
Here is a brief list of what you may expect in the way of purchase costs. Please be aware that these costs have changed dramatically over the last few years and it's always best to confirm all costs before signing on the dotted line.
Purchase or Transfer Tax: This is based on the 'assessed tax value'. The new tax provisions of 1st January 2014 stipulate transfer tax as 3%. This is not applicable when VAT comes into play - see below:
Value Added Tax: VAT charged on new properties is 23%. New constructions with building licenses issued before January 2006 are not subject to VAT, regardless of when building work was/is completed.
Lawyer's fees: Legal fees for the conveyance involved in a sale are up to 1% of the 'assessed tax value'. The actual fee depends on the value of the property itself.
Notary fees: These are usually between 1-2% of a property's 'assessed tax value'. Fees also include small set charges for each sheet and document included in the contract.
Land registry: Land registry fees are from 0.3 to 0.5% of the 'assessed tax value' plus a small sum for stamp duties and certificates.
Union fees: 1% of the taxable price of the property up to €44,000 is payable and then 0.5% on the remaining taxable property price.
Local municipal tax or community tax: 3% of the property transfer tax and is paid to the local municipality for general public services such as road maintenance.
The Estate Agent's fees: The exact amount of commission is a matter between the agent and the client. Estate agent's fees are generally between 2-5% of the purchase price and can be split between the purchaser and the vendor by agreement.
Capital Gains Tax: Bear in mind that Capital Gains tax is levied at 15% in Greece.
Finding a property in Greece - where should you start?
Search for property in Greece with Rightmoveoverseas.co.uk - the best place to search for property in Greece and part of Rightmove.co.uk, the UK's number one property website. From ancient ruins to sparkling seas, Greece is a stunning and diverse country with plenty of property for sale. Whether you're looking for a villa in Santorini or an apartment in Athens, there is a great range or property in Greece. Rightmoveoverseas.co.uk is the best place to find the very latest property in Greece.
To find out more on how to finance and find a property in Greece, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Greek Property Buying Guide.
Legalities - should you use a lawyer when buying a property in Greece?
Getting a lawyer involved in your property purchase in Greece is a must, and anyone who says differently does not have your best interests at heart.
I think it's safe to say that buyers now realise that it's not only imperative to get a lawyer, but it's essential to get a really good lawyer. News stories about property buyers having their overseas property demolished or finding out that they don't own the land or can't get a title deed to their property appear daily in newspapers around the world, and it would be a foolish buyer who didn't take note of this.
Furthermore, I would suggest that you contact a lawyer before setting off to view properties in Greece. Otherwise, if you do decide to buy, you may be rushed for time and persuaded to use a lawyer who may not act in your best interests. You can find a list of lawyers on the British Embassy in Greece website, or perhaps you could go to an ex-pat website and ask a few people. People like to help and are usually delighted to share the news of someone who has assisted them. Failing that, you could chat to people locally once you arrive and find someone that they recommend. Having your own trusted lawyer will mean that the chances of having problems later on will be vastly reduced.
The Greek government recently passed a law granting residence permits to non-EU citizens, as well as their families, if they buy residential or commercial property in Greece which is worth €250,000 or more. Once granted, this permit, called the Golden Visa, is renewable every five years but as long as the non-EU citizen retains ownership of the property, the visa will be easily renewed. This Golden Visa programme not only allows non-EU property buyers to live in Greece and come and go as they please but, as Greece is a member of the EU, will also allow the holder to travel freely within all the Schengen countries with just a passport.
Settling into Greece - how can you make friends?
Introduce yourself to your neighbours. Don't worry about your indifferent Greek - or perhaps total lack of Greek at all! The friendly gesture will be welcomed.
Have a party. You might like to host a little house warming party? Just ask a few neighbours around and perhaps ask them to ask a few of their friends too...?
Shop locally, at least to begin with. Ok, it may be a little more expensive than using a supermarket but you will get to know your local shopkeepers this way and may even bump into some of your neighbours. Chatting in local shops is common in Greece: learn how to say 'hello' and greet all and sundry... you'll soon get to know people!
Learn to speak Greek. This is VERY important if you are going to be living in Greece permanently. Speaking the local language or even trying to speak will help you gain favour in the eyes of the locals.
Find out where other expats are hanging out. There may well be a day when you feel a little homesick. Yes, you are going to fit in and be part of your new country but that doesn't mean to say that you can't have a few English friends to chat to. Ask around at the local church or perhaps an estate agent who has sold homes to Brits.
Like so many things in life, it may all seem a little intimidating at first. Greece is a country with a very different culture and different ways. The key is to embrace these differences, not fight them. Some of the bureaucracy and formality may be frustrating, but perhaps it was this slower pace that enchanted you about the country in the first place? Relax... and it will soon feel like home to you.
To find out more on legalities, moving and settling into your new Greek home, request a copy of The Overseas Guides Company's Greek Property Buying Guide.