Useful information

Real Estate Purchase in Greece

There has never been a better time than now to acquire a cheap and beautiful property in Greece! In comparison with the rest of Europe, real estate prices in Greece are currently very favorable. Dropping real estate prices have greatly increased buying interest by foreign buyers in recent years. In order to make Greece more attractive as an investment location, the land transfer tax has been reduced from 10% to 3% in recent years, while purchase costs are at a very low level compared to other European countries (additional costs around 7%).

The financial and economic crisis in Greece was also accompanied by further legal reforms in the field of real estate law: steady expansion of the land registry, legalization of buildings without permit, etc.

Prospective buyers from abroad should not be deterred by disinformation, e.g. provided by the media, with regard to the capital controls that are still in force (and which have already been relaxed many times since first implementation). Failure to obtain necessary and helpful information on such important issues may decrease potential buying interest due to the alleged resulting difficulties. However, given the low prices for acquiring lucrative and attractive properties in Greece, this is an opportunity one shouldn’t miss! Let’s take a look at capital controls. On the one hand, capital export is limited, which, however, is neither an obstacle nor a difficulty for foreign buyers. On the other hand, one can easily and adequately proceed in opening a bank account, by initiating the necessary steps in direct contact with the bank or entrusting a lawyer with this task. Therefore, to purchase property in Greece, you need a) competent / expert advice on the technicalities by civil engineers and possibly architects who could fulfill the requirements for the granting of a building permit or the examination of an existing building permit (now legally safeguarded for the buyer’s protection); and b) legal advice by lawyers / notaries and tax consultants, who in turn will initiate the legal review of the property, draft/review the purchase contract, file applications for permits, etc.

On the following pages you will find all the necessary information and links about real estate acquisition in Greece. These will help you find out in advance everything that is important when buying property in Greece. The most important points about real estate acquisition and the real estate law in Greece are presented below in a concise and clear way.
All information is subject to change without notice and is not legally binding. Only individually tailored legal advice should be considered, along with adequate examination of all factors, to prevent any possible difficulties in your real estate acquisition.

 

General Information on Real Estate in Greece

Property in Greece can be included or excluded from the civil development plan (= officially recognized civil development plan).

Real estate / land / building plots within the development plan, including properties located in districts, can be considered building plots (= oikopeda) on which buildings have already been erected in accordance with applicable legislation or on which buildings may be erected. In Greece, this includes real estate property located in districts, which are excluded from the development plan or included in a so-called "not yet planned" development plan.

Land / land plots excluded from the development plan are referred to as agricultural land and are either "simple" plots of land or agricultural land from public distribution (the latter were distributed by the state to low-income farmers). In both cases, plots of land are used in agriculture.


However, according to the Greek law, the construction of real estate located outside the development plan is possible. Depending on the type and use of property, there are corresponding building regulations. A general guideline is that a property may only be built if its area is at least 4,000 square meters.

Despite the distinction in real estate included or excluded from the development plan, the construction of buildings is entirely possible, considering all building regulations and other legal regulations in Greece. According to the building regulations, the property is first reviewed by a topographer / surveyor and a civil engineer to determine whether it is suitable to build (= artio) and constructible (= oikodomisimo) (due to size and other criteria such as restrictions, building regulations, building conditions, caverage and structure cost etc.). If the review reveals that the property is suitable and constructible, the topographer / surveyor / construction engineer will mark the topographical plan with the corresponding stamp and all the licence needed.


Real Estate Law in Greece: A Brief Introduction

Real estate property acquisition in Greece is governed by the Greek Civil Code (= Astikos Kodikas), which is equivalent to the German Civil Code. There are also similarities between the German and Greek real estate law. The purchase is carried out by a notarized purchase contract as well as an entry in the mortgage register (= Ipothikofylakio / land registry) or land registry. The owner of a property is only certified once the entry in the Greek land register / cadaster has been completed.


The Land Registry was recently applied an is no longer object-related. With the introduction of the cadastral office (= Ktimatologio) an entry should be only object-related (according to land parcels). Since the transition to the cadaster office has not yet been completed in all Greek municipalities, land registers are still maintained in a name-related manner in some municipalities / towns. Therefore, it is advisable, or even necessary, to employ a lawyer, assigning him/her with the corresponding search in the competent land registry check before acquiring real estate property. It should be noted that such searches in the Land Registry / Cadaster are carried out by lawyers in Greece.


The Greek land register does not list all properties of a person or all the dispositions and legal transactions directly related to a particular property. According to the name-based registration in the land register, the entry (s) make it possible to understand which property (s) a person owns in the relevant municipality.


Therefore, during the search check, ownership is checked along with the existence of possible burdens (for example, compulsory insurance mortgages). Burdens of a property in the land register are also listed by name in the mortgage book. In the cadaster, possible burdens will be listed on the same sheet in the future.


In addition to the possibility of assigning a lawyer with the task of searching the land register / cadaster, one can also apply for a certificate of registration in the land registry. However, this certificate only contains excerpts of the entries; a detailed and legally validated examination has to be requested separately. As a rule, since the length of processing time and the quality of the search and costs are factors which should not be underestimated, it is advisable to delegate this task to an experienced lawyer.

In Greek law, attention must be paid to purchasing restrictions when acquiring real estate property, the most important of which include the following:

  • Restrictions for foreigners in regions / locations defined as frontier areas. These restrictions do not apply to EU citizens; Non-EU citizens must apply for a permit from the relevant prefecture. Non EU citizens can acquire a residence permit in Greece (including their family) if they purchase a property of 250.000 euros or more. Limitations of construction law: Building regulations must be observed. One of the most important regulations provides that no land with an area lower than 4,000 square meters may be used to build outside the permissible development plan.
  • Restrictions regarding the protection of nature and listed monuments: Natural law restrictions include, in particular, forest law restrictions and restrictions on the sea shore. State forest land and seafront land may not be acquired. A permit from the Ministry of Agricultural Development and Food is also required if you want to sell, buy or share forest land (for example, Art. 216 (1) a of the Forestry Act). Listed properties are subject to the requirements of the monuments protection authority.
  • Restrictions in regions / locations marked as military areas: The purchase of real estate property in such areas is not possible.

 

Required Documents (Buyer-Seller)

For the purchase of real estate property, the following are required:

  • a valid passport;
  • a Greek tax identification number (AFM);
  • a certificate from the responsible tax office about the payment of the land transfer tax.

For the sale of real estate property, the seller must submit some additional documents:

  • a valid passport;
  • a Greek tax identification number (AFM);
  • topographical plans of the property;
  • Certificate from the responsible tax office about the payment of inheritance or gift tax;
  • Certificate about the payment of property tax in the last five (5) years;
  • Certificate of possible income or lack of income from the property (in the last two years);
  • Land Registry / Land Registry extract;
  • Certification by an engineer on the non-existence of building law violations or on the legalization of possible building law violations and the payment of relevant fees;
  • Energy performance certificate;
  • Clearance certificate for the seller by the responsible tax office;
  • Attestation of an engineer according to Greek law 4495/2017 on the inspection of the property and determination of non-existence of building law violations. The application for the issuance of a tax identification number is filed to the responsible tax office (DOY), along with the following supporting documents (natural entity): Applicant\'s personal data: First and last name, father’s first and last name, mother’s maiden name, date of birth, place of birth (GR) or country of birth (abroad)
  • Information according to ID card;
  • Nationality, occupation and marital status;
  • Full address. Foreign nationals identify themselves with their passport and birth certificate.
  • Planning permit for built real estate property, constructed before 1983, certified by an civil engineer and documentation of that period about the building.
  • Certification from the relevant municipality about the payment of all municipal fees. The notary may not certify the contract of sale if this certificate is not available. In addition to the documents listed, you will also need an account managed in Greece. Since account opening is difficult due to capital controls still applied, it is advisable to contact a bank in Greece promptly to take the necessary further steps.
  • Verification by the forest authorities for the property
  • Tax and social contribution clearance by the seller

 

The Buying Process - Step by Step

When all the necessary documents have been obtained from the buyer and seller and all necessary checks have been completed, the notarized purchase contract is drafted, containing a detailed description of the object of purchase, purchase price and purchase price due, right of revocation, penalty in case of default and settlement modalities for the transfer of ownership. Without notarization, the purchase contract is void.


After signing the purchase contract, the purchase price is usually paid. Following this, the change of ownership is carried out by an entry at the Land Registry, using the notarial deed and completing the payment of the land transfer tax. The registration is usually performed by a lawyer and should be better completed timely to the signing to the purchase contract.


Although there is no longer a legal requirement for the notarial recording of purchase contracts since January 2014, the buyer (s) should consult a lawyer for both the land register search and the sales contract.

Below, we have created an overview for a step-by-step completion of your real estate purchase. It lists what you need to do as a prospective buyer, contact persons and involved parties / specialists:

 

What you must do ...

Who will help you ...

1. Search & find ideal property! 

www.ferimmo.de

2. Agree on the price

Buyer and seller, possibly real estate agents

3. Apply in the Land Register/ Cadaster Office, Examination and clarification of ownership and burdens on the property, etc.

Lawyer

4. Inspection of building law issues, Aspects, etc.  

Civil Engineer 

5. Purchase contract draft     

Notary, Lawyer

6. Apply for Greek tax identification code, and open bank account in Greece   

Buyer  (in person or by notary power of attorney), Bank

7. Pay the land transfer tax   

Buyer 

8. Sign the purchase contract and certify

Buyer, Seller, Notary, Laywer

9.  Pay the purchase price     

Buyer, Bank   

10.Possibly cancel any mortgages    

Lawyer of the seller, Notary

11. Entry in the Land Registry / Cadaster

Lawyer, Notary

12. Handover of the keys to the buyer

Seller

13. The property is yours!

 

 

  

Costs and Taxes on Property Purchase

The purchase costs and taxes for the purchase of property in Greece are the following:

  • Real estate property transfer tax, which arises with the acquisition of real estate property or the acquisition of real rights upon property and is paid in principle by the buyer, before the notarial certification of the real estate property purchase. The current rate of land transfer tax is 3.09% of the purchase price. If the purchase price is below the so-called fair unit value, the latter is taken into account for the calculation of the land purchase tax. Through a system for the objective appraisal of real estate property by criteria such as location of the object, real estate property area, etc. the so-called unit value is determined by the Greek law. Tax exemption is possible in a few exceptional cases (e.g. real estate property acquisition for the purpose of primary residence).
    For newly built real estate property with building permits issued after 01.01.2006 and purchase being made directly by the contractor, the value added tax of 24% is charged instead of the real estate transfer tax.
    For real estate property purchased by a buyer after 01.01.2013 and then transferred to another owner (transfer of any real rights in real estate property), a so-called speculative tax of 15% on the added value is charged. The added value is calculated as the difference between the purchase price and the potential selling price. The speculative tax decreases the longer the property is owned by the owner. Exceptional cases (e.g. the profit from commercial activity is exempt from this tax) are also provided for.
  • Notarization costs or notarial costs, always borne by the buyer, unless there is a different regulation. The basis of assessment used is the purchase price or the so-called unit value. Always apply the higher value. The certification costs are on average 1,5% plus VAT 24% of the underlying value.
  • Land register costs, imposed for the registration of the property at the land registry or cadaster office, amount to 1,0% of the fair value.
  • Legal fees are negotiated freely.
  • Realtors‘ fees which is usually over 2% on the agreed price plus VAT
  • Other costs such as the legal review of ownership (of at least around € 150) must also be considered.

 

Taxes and Fees following the Real Estate Property Purchase

The following taxes and fees apply after the purchase of real estate property:

Unified Real Estate Property Tax (ENFIA): The new Property Tax (EN.FIA), which came into force with effect from the beginning of 2014, is levied on any type of real estate property (building and real estate), irrespective of whether or not a property belongs to the owner (real or fictitious) or not. Used agricultural and livestock building facilities such as storage rooms, cattle sheds, etc., as well as buildings without roofing are excluded from the new real estate tax.


This tax is payable for each property. The value of the property valid on 01.01. of the year is used as an estimation basis for the tax. The tax is payable by owners. This also applies:

  • The tax is payable by owners. This also applies:
    - if the registration of the new owner in the land register has not yet taken place;
    - if a preliminary contract entitles the signing of a sales contract without the prior consent of the previous owner; this does not include preliminary contracts with construction companies and pending legal proceedings for real estate property;
  • The tax is payable by owners and beneficiaries. The following apply:
    - Natural entities: The value is calculated proportionally to the total value of the property (s). The determining factor is the age of the usufructuary, the residual value is paid proportionately by the owner.
    - Legal entities: The value of the share in the total value of the property (s) is 8/10. For the residual value, the owner comes on a pro rata basis.
  • The tax is payable by those for whom a right of residence has been registered (the same applies to the value of the right of residence as to the right of usufruct).
    However, those allowed to use parking lots, swimming pools, ancillary and basement rooms, etc. should also pay the tax.

Income tax: Natural entities with permanent residence abroad, i.e. outside Greece, who receive no income in Greece in the form of a salary, pension, etc., only need to file an income tax return in Greece when they receive income from letting and leasing; this income is taxed.
For income from leasing and renting up to € 12,000, the tax rate is 11%. For income from leasing and renting over € 12,000, the tax rate is 33%. Different tax rates apply to companies.

Real estate property, waste collection and street lighting fee: These fees are included in the electricity bill and paid to the responsible municipality. The size of the property determines the amount of these fees.