A short guide on the pros and cons of buying a property in Greece. Whether looking to relocate or buy a holiday home, this is all you’ll need to know!
Why Buy a property in Greece?
For those looking to relocate, Greece will appeal. Whether looking for a second home to relocate full time, Greece offers history, sunshine and over six thousand sun drench islands all at your fingertips. On top of this, English is widely spoken in Greece, meaning it can be straightforward to settle into a new way of life without immediately grasping the language.
Compared to many other areas in Europe, Greece is also very affordable both in terms of rental cost and sustenance. The Greek Property market is also pushing higher after many years of decline, providing both great value and the possibility of good sale returns.
The property market in Greece
Property prices continue to increase, with the Greek property market firmly rising despite the global pandemic. Price rises in 2019 were slower, but with the return of some normality, the market is forecast to pick up again.
Greece’s urban property prices increased by 3.38%during the final quarter of 2020, approximately five less than the previous year. Areas which appreciated the most in the third quarter of 2020 included:
Athens: the Greek capital saw a price rise of 5.61% in the final quarter, representing a fall compared to the previous year where prices appreciated by 11.66%.
Thessaloniki: Greece’s second-largest city’s property prices rose by 4.26% in the final quarter of 2020. A slow down from 2019 which saw the city’s property prices increase by 7.75%
This appreciation follows a considerable price correction from 2007 to 2017, where Greek property prices fell over 42%. The property market began to recover in 2018, and over the last few years, prices have clawed their way back.
Foreign investor and relocation demand have fallen significantly due to the pandemic like other European property hotspots. However, demand remains higher than in 2017.
Should you buy or rent in Greece?
The choice of buying or renting in Greece will be defined by you and your family’s scenario. Those that have dreamt of moving to Greece or purchasing a second home will feel comfortable purchasing. If, however, you are fulfilling a six-month work contract in Greece, you may wish just to rent.
Renting property in Greece
The minimum term to rent a home in Greece is three months. Rental prices tend to get reduced for more extended rental periods, and prices for popular areas of Greece are as follows.
Rental prices in Athens are roughly €10 per square meter
Rental prices in Thessaloniki are around €7.60 per square meter
The highest rental prices are found in the destinations of Cyclades and Chalkidiki, costing €28 and €32 per square meter
When renting a property in Greece, you’ll be required to pay a deposit equal to two or three months rent. An inventory should be taken before you move in and again when you move out. Always make sure you’re entirely happy with the terms of your rental agreement and source a translator if required.
Buying a property in Greece
Those located in the EU will encounter no issues buy a home or relocating to Greece. Those buying from outside the EU to stay may wish to use the Golden visa option, which allows permanent residency once the applicant has remained in Greece for over five years. An investment of €250,000 is needed to qualify for the Golden Visa to Greece. Once your qualification is confirmed, the next step will be to find an area that suits you and your family living requirements.
Best places to buy in Greece
The choice of where the best place will be to buy in Greece will be down to whether you desire island life or prefer the mainland. Here are the best places in Greece for both:
Some of the most popular mainland destination in Greece to buy a property are:
Athens and Attika: The Capital of Athens is situated in the region of Attika. Athens has a population of about three million and underwent a significant rejuvenation in 2004 when It held the Olympics. Athens lots to see and experience and has the added benefit of offering these attractions all year round. Property prices start at around €80,000 for a small two-bedroom apartment in the city centre.
Kalambaka: situated on the shore of the jaw-dropping Messinian Bay, Kalamata’s location and surroundings are idyllic. The capital enjoys a picturesque old town and cathedral. Rural properties can be sourced from around €40,000.
Ioannina: offering a lovely setting and picturesque old town. Its large student population ensure that the area remains lively and entertaining. Properties are scarcer and will start at around €102,000.
Corinth: around 1 hour from the Greek capital, this modern town possesses its fortress. Property prices start at roughly €25,000 for a small studio flat.
Some of the most famous Greek islands where foreigners buy a property are:
Corfu: one of the most well-known Ionian islands is Corfu, which enjoys welcoming holidaymakers from across Europe, notably the UK. A small percentage of them decide to buy a home on the island. Direct international flights have boosted appetite for the island. Despite the appetite of Corfu purchasing a home, there is far from unachievable. The majority of properties are newer style properties built to accommodate holidaymakers. A three-bedroom villa on Corfu is priced at around €200,000, with properties in need of renovation available from €25,000.
Kefalonia: is ideal for those who wish to remain once they fall in love with the area. Its best known for being the location of the story Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. The island situated on the western side of Greece. Its laid back style attracts expats looking to buy property. Apartments in Kefalonia start at roughly €100,000 and can be found in a host of pretty villages.
Mykonos: in the centre of the Aegean Sea is the well know the island of Mykonos. Great for nightlife and those wanting to retreat to white sandy beaches. The island is known for its whitewashed homes with contrasting blue roof tiles. The island enjoys a tremendous Mediterranean climate, with temperatures occasionally reaching 40C in high summer. Those wanting a villa should budget to spend over €1,000,000. The area is achieving some of the highest rental yields of all the Greek islands. More modest villas can be sourced from around €500,000.
Santorini: is considered amongst the most romantic places globally. Santorini is a hotspot for honeymooners and classic holidaymakers. Similar to Mykonos, Santorini features trademark whitewashed homes. Its volcanic landscape means some beaches are covered in black pebbles. Due to its desirability, those wanting to buy a property in Santorini should budget around €400,000 for a three-bedroom property. Properties rented at peak summer season command a significant premium.
Crete: One of the most popular areas with overseas buyers, Crete offers an excellent climate and heritage. The southernmost area of Greece is adored by expats and tourists alike. Temperatures rarely fall lower than 13c. Expat hubs remained largely untouched by the financial crash, and these communities offer excellent community spirit. Properties can be found for a shade above €100,00, with villas available from €300,000.
Kos: situated just a mile from the Turkish coastline and home to roughly 30,000 permanently on the island. Considered a more traditional Greek island, the beaches are sandy. The mountainous backdrop is adored by cyclists and ramblers alike. The island has several attractive villages. Cheap property can be found from around under €50,000 but will require renovation. For those looking for a home in good condition, apartments on Kos can be found for approximately €110,000.
Can a foreigner buy a property in Greece?
Foreigners can buy a property in Greece with relative ease. Greece applies no strict buying restrictions to purchasing a home or investing. Non-Eu members wishing to relocate to Greece can benefit from the Golden Visa program. This visa means they can buy a home for €250,000 or more and benefit from a five-year residence pass. The pass is renewable and includes family members, including parents and children. After seven years of residency in Greece, applications for Greek passports can also be lodged.
Non-EU property buyers and Golden Visa
Greece one of the most attractive packages for non EU citizens. A golden visa an be obtained by investing €250,000 or more. Gaining the visa in Greece allows you to live freely in Greece and travel regularly throughout Europe.
Due to its straightforward nature the Greek golden visa is considered amongst the most attractive options for those wishing to live in Europe. The visa can be gained quickly.
Qualifying conditions of the Golden Visa
- Property must be purchased individually or jointly with up to 3 non-EU citizens
- Property purchased via company or jointly or unequally with participants
- Each acquires a stake which is €250,000 or more
Associated costs of buying in Greece
The associated cost of buying a home in Greece includes legal costs, local taxes, and roughly 10% of the value of the property you are purchasing. We suggest speaking to a Greek legal expert once you have a property budget in mind for more accurate figures.
Newbuild property or resale?
Most expensive areas in Greece
The following Greek areas are considered the most expensive to buy a home. They are made up of some of the highest cost places to live and most luxurious locations on the mainland and the Greek islands.
- Athens Lake Vouliagmenis
Least expensive areas in Greece
The following Greek areas are considered some of the best value places to buy a home.
Most popular areas in Greece with expats
The topop locations for expats to live in Greece include:
Wherever you opt to relocate to ensure there is a strong expat community, mainly if you aren’t familiar culturally or don’t speak the language. Many expats moving to Greece wish they had followed more guidance from expats who had already moved to Greece. There are several excellent online resources and communities to help you to ease into life in Greece, regardless of location.
Top tips for those buying Greece
Just a few quick tips to consider before starting your relocation to Greece or buying a second home.
Make sure Greece is definitely for you: whilst Greece will show few downsides when on holiday. Sometimes the practicalities of living in rural Greece can be a challenge, exceptionally if you choose a coastal resort that will be shut down for most of the year. Also, bear in mind the frequency of flights to and from central locations in the low season, especially if you still have family overseas.
Explore Greece: don’t just start your property search in the first location you find. Mainland and island locations in Greece offer different attractions and advantages. Make sure you visit an area which you feel could be suitable for your requirements and budget.
Property requirements: once settled on a region or town, make a wish list of requirements needed from your dream home. This checklist should include the size of the pool or number of bedrooms, and proximity to major towns and airports. Be realistic and always be willing to compromise.
Get your finances in order: once you have found an area and have a grasp of values, get your finances in order. We advise speaking to an accountant, foreign exchange broker and mortgage broker if you intend to finance the home.
Find a trusted property agent: whether buying a new build property or a resale home in Greece. Sourcing a property professional must be a top priority. Ideally, seek recommendations from fellow expats and ensure the company you wish to use has been in business for a few years and have a good track record.
Get an accredited solicitor: The legal process of any property purchase can be where many face challenges. Locate an accredited solicitor locally and potentially in your country of residence if their English isn’t the best. The lawyer will typically assist with opening a bank account, Greek tax codes and comb through the purchase contract in great detail.
Bills and cost of ownership in Greece: ensure you are happy with the ongoing costs of owning a second home. If you’re likely only to use the property a few weeks of the year, is it worth such a final commitment?
Financing a home in Greece
Lending since the financial crisis has been harder to obtain. Very few Greek banks lend to foreign buyers. If you’re already renting in Greece, this can be easier if already a resident.
Those looking to finance a second home won’t have a wide choice of Greek mortgage lenders. Those wanting to purchase with a Greek mortgage should expect to place a minimum of 25%, with many banks expecting a deposit of 50%.
Many lenders will only lend over €100,000, so financing cheaper properties can be challenging for foreigners. The best bet is to approach a local bank if looking for a smaller mortgage.
Many, instead, will consider releasing equity from their primary residence overseas and sending the money to Greece once converted by an international payments specialist.
Transferring money to buy a property in Greece
Regardless of whether you plan on purchasing a new build or resale property in Greece. You will almost certainly need to send a deposit, occasionally stage payments and final money transfer to complete your new home in Greece.
Once you’ve found your dream property, you’ll need to enlist the services of a foreign exchange broker to arrange the money transfers to Greece in Euros. Subject to your property project, there will be two or more payments that need to be made. A foreign exchange broker can transfer these euro funds once your account is open. You have the bank details for your Greek solicitor or developer.
Opening a bank account in Greece to buy a home
Making the first steps towards buying a home in Greece, you will need to deposit the funds fully before starting the legal process. Occasionally your solicitor will fast track the process. Thankfully it needn’t be intimidating. Once opened, most major banks operate in English.
If you allowed your solicitor to work on your behalf by power of attorney. They might be able to open an account for you. However, if this isn’t possible, the following documentation should cover the Greek bank account opening process:
- Current mobile and landline telephone bill
- Recent utility bill (electricity, water or gas)
- Most Recent tax return (UK p60 or p45)
- Any document which states your national insurance number or social security
- Proof of job role (payslip)
- 12 months’ worth of bank account statements
- Copy of birth certificate
- Copies of passports
- Marriage certificate
- Tax residency certificate from HM revenue or IRS
Your Greek bank will generally wish to meet you at least once. Therefore it’s worth combining your property viewing trip with a meeting at a local bank.
Finding a home in Greece
Many realtors will offer a property finding service; this will typically involve a consultation to go through your requirements and preferred location. Many companies are even located locally to you and can meet in your home country. They will typically charge a percentage of the property value and deal with the process from A to Z. This service is more common in the higher end of the market on properties costing more than €500,000.
The property buying process in Greece
Find your dream property in Greece: agree on a buying price and appoint a legal representative in Greece to deal with the legal process.
Await your Greek Tax number: a tax number is required when purchasing a home in Greece.
Technical survey: whilst not compulsory, a survey is advisable when buying in Greece. It will unmask any structural or planning issues.
Pay the stamp duty: the stamp duty of 3% (property value) now needs to be paid to the solicitor.
Property completes: you are now the legal owner of the Greek property. The sale is processed in front of a notary.
Property and owner formally registered: The property and its owner and registered online with the tax authorities.
Buying land in Greece
The majority of Greek estate agents will have a large selection of building land to sell and homes in the area.
If considering buying land in Greece, ensure you engage with a solicitor at an early stage. There no full-proof land registry system in Greece. Therefore, before sending a deposit, ensure that the land parcel is accounted for.
Plots of land can be sourced from as little as €15,000 in Greece. Building costs can represent good value, but it’s hard to keep on top of costs and ensure you are getting value from your builder unless you are located in Greece.