Buying property in Greece as an American

Gabriela Peratello
16.12.21
7 minute read

If you’re looking for a land blessed by the gods, rumor has it Greece is the place. With an incredible Mediterranean landscape aligned with rich history and culture, Greece is a dream destination for many tourists, travelers and expats.

If you’re ready to take the plunge on Hellenic property, this guide will walk you through everything you need to know about buying a home in Greece.

📑 Table of Contents

What’s the Greek property market like?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the economic scenario in Greece has been struggling — after a major crash in 2009, the nation is still working to regain footing. This, followed by the recent Covid-19 pandemic, has caused an impact on the housing market.

Though the prices stagnated at the beginning of the lockdown, they have been slowly and steadily increasing since 2020. In numbers, that means the house prices faced a 3.38% growth, which corresponds to 8.49% when adjusted to inflation¹.

This means that, if you’re looking to buy the perfect Greek home, now is the time to find cheap options. But, opportunities like this always come with some risk — which we’ll cover more in depth later.

Can Americans buy property in Greece?

Buying a property in Greece as an American is possible — but you may need to get permission in advance.

Whether or not you need to jump through any hoops before buying a property in Greece depends on the locations you’re looking at.

Some border regions, including some of the Greek islands, have restrictions in place which mean US citizens need to apply for advance permission to buy properties there. This involves submitting an application to the Ministry of National Defense showing your connection to Greece and how you intend to use the property.

If the area you’re buying a home in is classified as a border region you’ll need a local professional to steer you through this process.

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How to buy property in Greece as an American: step by step

greek-houses

Buying a house in Greece is a pretty straightforward process, even for a foreigner. These are the steps to keep in mind as you get started²:

Step 1: Find your perfect home and make an offer

Search for Greek real estate online, or through your own agent. Make sure you check if the region you’re thinking of is classed as a border region — you’ll need to take a few additional steps before you purchase if it is.

Step 2: Appoint a property lawyer to complete due diligence checks

It’s mandatory to have a lawyer or notary in almost all property deals in Greece. They will complete title searches and checks, and commission surveys as required. You may pay a down payment on the property at this stage — this is agreed with the seller through your lawyer.

Step 3: Get your Greek tax number

You won’t be able to buy a property in Greece without a local tax number — known as an AFM. This will also give you access to the Greek TAXIS system to report and pay property taxes. Apply at the local tax office near to where you’re buying your property.

Step 4: Pay property taxes and transfer tax

Once all the surveys and searches have been completed you’re ready to pay the transfer tax. Further property taxes may also apply, along with legal and agent costs — more on that a little later.

Step 5: Sign the sales contract and register with local and tax authorities

Sign the acquisitions contract in front of a notary public, which will transfer the title of the property to you. Your lawyer will help you to register the title deed with local authorities to complete the purchase, and you’ll also need to notify the tax authorities of the sale.

Buying a house in Greece: costs

One of the most important things to keep in mind when making an overseas property investment are the average costs you’ll have for buying and keeping your house.

So buckle up and read along for the most common expenses and costs you’ll have when buying a home in Greece.

How much is a house in Greece?

As in most countries, the cost of property in Greece varies by region, type of housing and location. Below you can find a comparison of some of the most popular cities to buy houses in:

LocationPrice (sqft) in city centerPrice (sqft) outside of city center
Athens³195.30 USD201.90 USD
Chania⁴174.05 USD137.50 USD
Rhodes⁵272.45 USD220.23 USD
Santorini³469.95 USD313.30 USD
Thessaloniki⁵194.45 USD145.33 USD

What kind of taxes and fees will you need to pay?

As you’re setting your total budget, it’s a good idea to recognize what kinds of fees you’ll need to pay up front.

While it’s important to do your own research for the location you’re purchasing property in, here you can find some basic information to get you started:

Fees⁶Amount (%)
Agent/Agency
    2% - 2.5%
Property Acquisition
    0.1% - 1.15%
Notary
    0.65% - 1% + VAT
Lawyer
    0.40% - 1% + VAT
Public Registration
    0.5% + VAT
Value Added Tax (VAT)
    23%
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 can fix the problem.
Wondering how much that would cost in EUR? Check the handy conversion tool below

Tips on paying your property taxes and fees in Greece

Greece and the US have a double taxation treaty which protects US citizens from paying tax twice. However, tax is complex, and you’ll still need to pay local property taxes in Greece, as well as being assessed for income tax if you’re renting the property out.

Get professional advice from an experienced tax accountant to make sure you stay on the right side of the law.


Buying and maintaining property abroad? Wise can help you save on international payments

Now that we covered all the basic costs of purchasing a house in Greece, the only question left is: how to send money to pay for your property overseas?

Wise offers you a quick, secure and transparent way of sending money to Greece. You get the mid-market exchange rate for your payments and see how much it’s charged for the transfer before sending the money from your bank.

With the Wise Multi-currency Account you can also hold, send and spend money in over 50 countries, and receive like a local in 10 different currencies.

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How to find real estate in Greece

When picking out a home in Greece, there are two main ways to go about it: researching independently and purchasing the property straight from the owner, or getting a real estate agent to help you out — either back home, or directly in Greece.

Hiring an agency, besides offering you the safety of working with someone who knows the market, is also a good option as, oftentimes, the agent might also help you find legal advice, insurance, 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.

If you choose to get started on our own, the websites below can help you get started
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Pitfalls of buying property in Greece

Buying a property in Greece as an American is basically safe as long as you use common sense and have good local professional guidance. Here are a few tips and things to look to look out for when you’re planning your purchase:

  • Research and get personal referrals when choosing an estate agent and a property lawyer — having the right people on your team is essential
  • Consider all the costs of completing the purchase and maintaining the property before you get started
  • Check if the properties you’re looking at are in restricted areas — in this case as a foreigner you’ll need to apply for permission to buy a property
  • Understand the local zoning and conservation laws when choosing a property — historic homes may have development restrictions, and some land can not be built on for conservation reasons

How to avoid scams

One of the main concerns when it comes to purchasing property abroad is falling victim to a scam. While the schemes and tactics often change, there are a few things to keep in mind to 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 — and take your inspection document with you
  • Make sure 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

Is it safe to buy property in Greece?

Buying property in Greece is safe as long as you follow all the proper legal processes. Any one property deal has at least 3 professionals overseeing it — your own lawyer or notary, a notary public, and the registrar which deals with registering the title transfer.

These provisions are in place to make sure it stays safe to buy property in Greece.

How to choose the right property

greek-houses-by-the-water

Property types

Villas are among the most desired 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, can have sweeping ocean views and beach access, but are significantly cheaper to 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.

Condition of the property

Purchasing a home in Greece should come with some caution. As the country is home to a lot of historic properties, they might need some modernizations and rigorous upkeep. It’s also good to have in mind that some of that essential work was pushed aside following the economic crash.

Due to this, it’s a good idea to bring your own inspector and walk through the house with them. This way you can get a real idea of any problems or necessary maintenance. It’s possible to find well-kept, up to date homes on the islands, but it’s always a good idea to do your research.


Now that you know how to buy a house in Greece as an American, as well as how to find real estate in Greece you’re ready to enjoy your sunny new home.

And don’t forget, when it comes around to sending money to buy your house abroad, you’re just a few clicks away with Wise. The cheap, transparent and fast way to send money overseas.

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Sources:

  1. Global Property Guide - Greece price history
  2. Greece Is - How to buy property in Greece
  3. Numbeo - Property investment: compare Santorini and Athens
  4. Numbeo - Property investment: Chania
  5. Numbeo - Property investment: compare Thessaloniki and Rhodes
  6. Get Golden Visa - Buying property in Greece

Sources checked on 12.16.2021


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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