Buying Property in Greece – Top 10 Tips To Avoid Pitfalls


1)Take your time. Shop around, compare prices and credentials. Existing properties may be offered by more than one agent, and the price for the same property may vary considerably. Choose an experienced licensed real estate agent. If buying off plan compare companies, their finished properties and what the price includes. Don’t be rushed into a purchase. What will you really find out during a 3 day buying trip? Would you purchase a property at home on such an impulse?

2)Location. If you are thinking of living permanently in Greece visit your chosen location in the winter. You may have found the perfect property but if you have only visited in the summer months you could find that an attractive village near a small resort, but far from town, becomes much less attractive in the winter months when everything in the nearby resort is closed down. If retiring to Greece think about the suitability of the location when you may be less agile – hills, steps or being far from a bus route, shops or health services could be a problem in the future.

3) House with a View. That olive grove in front of your plot could soon become a building site. To ensure that you keep an unimpeded view buy land/property that is on its own high ground or a slope.

4) Lawyer. You must appoint a lawyer (‘dikigoros’) in accordance with Greek law to make a property purchase. Your lawyer is the most important person in your Greek house purchase so you need to be confident that he/she will be looking out for your interests; a lawyer recommended by the builder/estate agent may have a conflict of interests. The British Embassy in Athens provides a list of English speaking lawyers in Greece and the Islands.

5) Building & Renovating Rules. If you are thinking of building or renovating a property yourself be aware that it is not entirely straightforward. The law requires that you use an architect so as to conform to strict building standards, including earthquake regulations. You are required to obtain a building licence and pay taxes and IKA Insurance for the build – even if you do it yourself. Official tax invoices (timologio) must be obtained for all supplies and labour. Only Greek registered tradesmen can provide the proper certification for electricity and water connections.

6)Remote Properties – Water & Electricity. If you are buying off plan from a developer the costs for connecting to mains electricity and water supplies are usually included in the purchase price, but this is not always the case. Check your contract if buying or building a property in a remote area as you may have to pay thousands of Euros for connection to utilities and telephone. If extra pylons or a transformer need to be erected to take electricity to your property you could be burdened with the cost. The same goes for telegraph poles for your telephone line – if there are no poles nearby you will pay for the connection and erection of telegraph poles, and for a water supply you could end up paying for pipes to connect you to the nearest mains.

7) Keeping track of the construction. A number of people have their plans drawn up, sign a contract and return a year later expecting to find their house completed, only to find that it is way behind schedule or that things are not built to plan, have been omitted or the wrong fixtures and fittings have been installed. Keep in touch with your agent or project manager and request photographs at all stages of the build if you are not on site.

8) Buying to Let. Don’t rely on rental returns paying for your investment. There is much competition for holiday rentals and oversupply in some areas, so there are no guarantees of rental income. In order to legally rent your Greek property to holidaymakers you must obtain a licence from the Greek National Tourist Organisation (EOT).

9) Tax. At the outset of a property purchase in Greece the buyer must register for a Greek tax number (A.F.M.). Once the tax number has been issued you are required to submit a tax return yearly in Greece, regardless of income or residency. If you are non-resident and / or have no income in Greece this may be a nil return, but it must still be declared. Import slips (the ‘pink slip’) must be obtained for any cash transfers to prove that cash has originated elsewhere and has already been taxed. Employing a local accountant to give advice on your personal circumstances and obligations is essential.

10) Capital Gains. The market in Greece saw property costs rise steeply between 2002 and 2006, but has now started to slow down. If you are buying property as a short term investment don’t expect to make a quick profit. Remember that you will also need to recoup the high purchase costs of around 12 % (lawyers, estate agents, notary fees & taxes) and pay capital gains tax.

Carol Palioudakis is the author of “Living in Crete. A Guide to Living, Working, Retiring & Buying Property in Crete”, a resource for those moving to Crete and Greece, available from her website []

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