Greece, with its place in antiquity as the beacon of enlightenment, culture and civilization, holds a lot of appeal for expats and tourists from around the world. Whether you are drawn to Greece because of its rich history, art and culture or the beautiful beaches and pleasant weather, you will need to do some serious thinking before you actually make that move. On the surface, Greece may seem like the perfect place to relocate to, because it would appear that you can get a lot more property for your money, but appearances can be deceptive. While you might be able to get property in prime locations, possibly with a sea view, for the same price you’d pay for a 2-bedroom apartment in most big cities in the US or UK, there are other factors to consider.Greece’s economic climate has been turbulent, to say the least, and expat communities who were once insulated against such problems have begun to feel the pressure too. If you are financially secure and are sure that a move to Greece can work for you, here are some tips for you.
Find a Greek Estate Agent
A real estate agent will be able to help locate suitable properties for you, based on your requirements, and will also be able to give you useful advice with regard to the suitability of a location and the procedures to be followed. Real estate agents can be particularly useful if you’re looking to buy property in a region that is normally off limits to non-EU citizens.
Hire an Attorney
Property ownership is a serious matter in Greece, and you will require the services of a lawyer if you wish to buy property in the country. Your lawyer will help to interpret and explain local rules and regulations to you, and will also act on your behalf representing your interests when paying any local taxes. A lawyer will also see to the registration of your property with the Greek Land Registry.
Get a Surveyor
Whether you’re buying a ready-to-occupy property or are planning to construct on a purchased plot of land, you will need the services of a civil engineer. The engineer will survey the property and let you know if it is structurally sound, and if there are any issues that need to be addressed. This is an extremely important aspect of property ownership in Greece – while the advice of a civil engineer is always valuable, this is especially true in Greece as the region is prone to earthquakes.
There are very few property purchase restrictions for foreigners, and the only restricted areas are near the borders. The border restrictions apply to Greek residents too, and there is a special committee appointed to review the applications of prospective buyers. Non-EU residents will find it very tough to buy land in these areas, as extensive documentation is required. Expats who wish to purchase real estate in Crete, Rhodes and parts of Northern Greece would also need to get the approval from their local prefecture.
Rules and Regulations
The first step in the process of purchasing property in Greece is to acquire a Greek tax identification number called the Arithmo Forologiko Mitro or AFM (pronounced as ‘Aa’ as in Art – ‘Fee’ as in feet – ‘Mee’ as in Meet). The AFM is a nine-digit personal tax identification number, and is required to complete almost any type of paperwork in Greece. Expats are required to prove that the source of their financial backing is legal and that the money is obtained through legitimate sources. This step is also necessary in order to set up an account in a Greek bank. The next steps towards purchasing the property would be to pay the transfer tax and to make a tax declaration for the property tax.
The mortgage interest rates are higher at Greek banks than in most other EU nations. It is also not easy for an expat to get a mortgage through a Greek bank, and so it is best to simply use a bank outside of Greece to set up the mortgage. Those who are depending on funds from outside the country in order to finance their home will need to make sure that they follow the required documentation process.