If you’re looking for a land blessed by the gods, rumor has it Greece is the place. A sun-kissed Mediterranean country rich with historic and cultural treasures, Greece is an irresistible destination for many tourists, travelers and expats.
If you’re dreaming of life in bustling Athens or Thessaloniki, or an escape to one of the beautiful Greek islands, you’ll need to start looking into buying property in Greece.
Property ownership in Greece is incredibly common, with over 75% of residents owning their homes¹ thanks to a strong culture of family and inherited property. But don’t worry - there are still plenty of properties left on the market, so you can snap up a little piece of Greek paradise as your own.
If you’re ready to take the plunge on Hellenic property, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know to buy property in Greece.
It’s no secret that the Greek economy has struggled in recent years. After a major crash in 2009, the nation struggled to regain footing. This, along with the unprecedented global coronavirus crisis, has also affected the housing market. For potential buyers, this could mean the chance to snap up a cheap property - but it also comes with a degree of risk.
After impressive growth in 2019, house prices in Greece are once again on the rise - albeit very slowly. Urban areas of the country saw a modest 3.38% rise in prices in 2020 (5.38% when adjusted for inflation)².
With any luck, the property market will pick up as the country’s economy recovers from the pandemic.
Yes, but it’s easier for some than others. While EU residents will run into almost no restrictions on purchasing property in Greece, non-EU residents may need to prove both their connections to the country and their intent for property use.³ This application is made to the Ministry of National Defense, and mostly involves submission of documents and proof of use intent.
Now that the UK has officially left the EU, buying property in Greece is a little more difficult for UK citizens.
You will still have the right to buy and own property, and rent it out if you want to. But you may also face restrictions and a few more administrative processes, as mentioned above. But the good news is that as a non-EU citizen, British buyers are now eligible for the Golden Visa scheme, which we’ll look at next.⁴
One of the main attractions of buying property in Greece is its Golden Visa scheme⁵. This grants a five-year residency permit to foreigners investing in property in the country. You’ll need to spend at least €250,000 on your home, and meet other criteria such as having health insurance and no criminal record.
Once granted, the holder of a Golden Visa and their immediate family members can legally live and work in Greece. However, you aren’t actually required to live there and you can choose to rent out your purchased property if you like.
If you do settle in Greece, you can apply for citizenship once you’ve lived there for seven years. Or, you can simply renew your residency permit.
The cost of property in Greece is largely dependent on the type of property and where you’re looking to buy.
Let’s take a look at average prices for apartments and homes in a few of the most popular parts of the country⁶:
|Area||Cost of apartment||Cost of detached house|
In Greece, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to location. There’s something for everyone, from vibrant cities and countryside boltholes to sleepy fishing villages and picturesque seaside resorts. Here are just a few of the best places to start your property search:
Corfu. A mega popular destination for UK expats, the island of Corfu has a UNESCO heritage old town, beautiful sandy bays and lively tourist areas.
Kefalonia. A little quieter than Corfu, this pretty island boasts charming fishing villages, fantastic walking trails and sparkling turquoise waters. It’s a great destination for retirees, or anyone in search of the quiet life.
Zakynthos/Zante. One of the Ionian islands, Zakynthos has it all - stunning beaches, historic castles, hilltop villages, family-friendly resorts and party hotspots. It’s all about finding the right place for you.
Crete. Chania on the island of Crete is a popular spot for UK buyers, thanks to its reputation for safety, a sun-soaked climate and a choice of bustling cities, coastal communities and pretty mountain villages.
Rhodes. This holiday hotspot has a wonderfully preserved medieval old town, along with lively seaside villages and great connections to the UK and Europe. Rhodes is also a good place to buy property, particularly a holiday home - although it can be more expensive than other islands.
Peloponnese. This large central region is bursting with history, and is a great spot for food lovers too thanks to exceptional local produce - including the famous Kalamata olives.
Athens. With year-round entertainment and facilities, the historic capital of Greece is ideal for those who love bustling city life. It’s well connected too, with frequent direct flights to the UK. But it doesn’t come cheap, and you may find that an apartment is the most readily available and affordable option.
If it’s nearly time to start your property search, here’s how to get started.
Because of the nature of finding homes across islands, most property-seekers choose to use a real estate agent in their search. You can go for a Greek agent, or choose one in your home country - although they’ll usually work in cooperation with an agent in Greece.
An estate agent should be able to help you with everything from getting legal advice to taking out insurance, along with finding decorators, contractors and other “next-steps” after the sale. It’s also possible to find an agent who will deal with construction services on your behalf, including supervising the work.
All in all, if you’re looking for support as you make your purchase and get ready to move, contracting an agent is a good idea.
If you’re hoping to skip the real estate agent fees, your first stop will probably be online listings. Some good places to find houses and apartments for sale in Greece are:
Buying a home in another country - especially when you live in another country - will always come with its risks and challenges. Let’s take a look at some of the potential pitfalls of buying property in Greece.
As is the case anywhere, you may run into real estate scammers in your Greek property search. While the exact scams change every day, there are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure you’re not taken for a ride:
- Never send money or a deposit before you have met the seller, seen the property or have a working set of keys.
- Ask for an up to date property inspection. The seller should provide this.
- Do a thorough walk through with your real estate agent with your inspection document in hand.
- Ensure that the seller has the legal right to sell the property, i.e. they’re the real property owner.
- Double check on your rights to the property - if it’s designated Alpha by the Greek Government (a historic home) you may have little to no ability to make updates or changes.
The turbulent economy in Greece, and particularly the crash in 2009, has made some people nervous about investing in property in the country.
But provided you follow the advice above to avoid scams, and seek expert advice to buy your home - it should be as safe to buy property in Greece as it is anywhere else. Sensible buyers will do their homework, avoid overstretching themselves financially and take steps to keep their money safe.
Villas are among the most sought-after types of property in Greece. However, it’s a good idea to remember there are other options that may serve you better or cost less in the long run.
Apartments, for instance, may come with sweeping ocean views and beach access, while being significantly cheaper to buy and maintain.
That being said, there’s no type of property you can’t find in Greece. Modern homes, historic villas, townhouses, apartments and plots of land are all available, depending on where you look.
Realistically, buying a home in Greece should be approached with some caution. Because many properties are historic, they may require modernisation or rigorous upkeep - essential work which may not have been done following the economic crash.
Because of this, it’s a smart idea to bring your own inspector and walk through the house with them, so you can get a real idea of any problems or necessary maintenance. It’s possible to find well-kept, up to date homes in Greece, but it’s always a good idea to do your research.
Buying property in Greece is a pretty straightforward process, even for a foreigner. These are the steps to keep in mind as you get started:⁷
Choose where to buy. While shopping online can give you a good idea of the property itself, it can be difficult to get a real feel for the area without being there. As such, it’s a good idea to take a trip to Greece to scout where you’d like to buy beforehand, if possible.
Retain an agent. If you’d rather search yourself, begin looking online.
Visit the property for a viewing. It can also be a good idea to take a builder or other professional with you to check for any structural or other issues.
Get your paperwork in order. You’re likely to need proof of ID and residence/visa (if applicable), along with copies of tax returns, bank statements and other documentation³.
Pick your property and make an offer. After choosing a property and doing your due diligence, make an offer to the seller.
Get a lawyer. Your lawyer will do the required legal searches and manage all the necessary paperwork for the purchase, including checking whether there are any restrictions or prohibitions on the property.
Get a technical survey of the property carried out. This isn’t mandatory, but it could help to flag up any serious issues early on.
Apply for a tax number. To buy property in Greece, you’ll need to apply for a unique tax registry number known as an AFM.
Get a notary. The notary makes or breaks the property sale in Greece, handling the completion of the acquisition contract. So, make sure all your documents are in order so you can breeze through this process.
Pay your taxes. The buyer pays for the property tax transfer in Greece, which has been set at 3% since 2014⁷.
Enjoy your new property!
If you’re looking for a mortgage or home loan, you may struggle to do so. This is because many banks in the country have halted real estate lending due to the numerous “bad” mortgages they were saddled with since the market crash⁸.
While it’s technically possible for a foreigner to get a mortgage in Greece and the situation is improving, you may be better off working with your local bank for a loan instead. If you’d prefer to try your luck with a Greek bank, you’ll be better off at an institution you’re already banking with.
Typically you’ll be asked to pay 10% of the property’s total value to “reserve” it³. You can do so with your Wise multi-currency account, or move money via Wise to get the real exchange rate and cut down on international transfer fees.
As you’re setting your total budget, it’s a good idea to recognise what kinds of fees you’ll need to pay up front. While it’s important to do your own research, these fees are some standard ones to look out for³:
- Agency/Agent fees: 2% to 2.5% + VAT
- Notary fees: 0.65-1% + VAT)
- Lawyer fees: 0.40-1% + VAT
- Public Registration fees: 0.5% + VAT
- Exchange rate: While this varies from bank to bank, it should be based on the mid-market rate. If you’re not getting the best rate from your bank, paying via Wise could be a money-saving solution.
Paying for your property from abroad? Save money with a secure transfer with Wise
If you’re buying your Greek property while still in the UK, you’ll need a reliable, secure and cost-effective way to send money over to Greece. Pay deposits and lawyer fees using your bank, and you could be stung by high fees and terrible exchange rates.
Use the Wise multi-currency account instead and you can send money to Greece for up to 7x cheaper compared to using a bank. Better still, you’ll always get the real, mid-market exchange rate. This could help save you a bundle on your property purchase.
Sending large sums of money across the world can be a little nerve-wracking, but Wise is FCA regulated and uses sophisticated security and anti-fraud measures to keep your money safe. You can even track your payments as they wing their way to Greece.
And there you have it - your essential guide to buying a property in Greece from the UK or wherever you are in the world. The best of luck with your property purchase!
Sources used for this article:
- Statista - home ownership rate in Europe
- Global Property Guide - house price growth in Greece
- Get Golden Visa - buying property in Greece
- Corfu plots for sale - what you need to know about buying in 2021
- Schengen Visa Info - Greece Golden Visa
- Tranio - real estate prices in 2021
- Greece Is - how to buy property in Greece
- Proper Star - mortgage in Greece
Sources checked on 13-July-2021.
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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