Buying Property in Greece as a Foreigner: 2024 Guide

Greece, with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and warm Mediterranean climate, is an enticing destination for real estate investors and those looking to relocate. This guide provides a comprehensive overview of the process, benefits, and considerations of buying property in Greece as a foreigner.

What is Greece like?

Greece is a member of the European Union, being one of its 27 countries, and also part of the Eurozone nations.

It ranks as the thirteenth largest country in Europe and is renowned for its stunning islands and ancient landmarks.

The country's diverse territories include:

  • the mainland;
  • the Cyclades, Dodecanese, and Ionian Islands in the Mediterranean Sea;
  • the Aegean Islands in the Aegean Sea;
  • Crete, the largest island of Greece.

Greece is divided into 13 administrative regions, which are further subdivided into 74 regional units.

Home to more than 10 million people as of 2024, Greece's rich cultural heritage and breathtaking landscapes make it a captivating destination for investors and tourists alike.

Population distribution across Greece's regions (scale 1-100)

Why invest in Greece?

The allure of Greece lies not only in its historical significance and picturesque landscapes but also in its promising investment opportunities.

The country boasts over 16,000 kilometers of coastline (9,942 miles) and enjoys more than 3,000 hours of sunlight annually, contributing to a generally warm climate throughout the year.

Ranking as one of the top travel destinations, Greece welcomed an estimated 36 million international tourists in 2023, highlighting its global appeal. This influx of visitors also led to a substantial rise in tourism revenue, with international visitors spending approximately €20.6 billion ($22.6 billion), showcasing the robust potential of the tourism sector.

Tourism plays a crucial role in the Greek economy, contributing 25% to the GDP and significantly influencing the real estate and construction industries.

What are the current market trends in Greece for 2024?

After a period of economic challenges, the Greek property market is showing signs of recovery and growth in 2024. This resurgence is a positive signal for investors, indicating renewed confidence in the real estate sector.

The rental market is undergoing significant changes, with increased demand in both urban centers and popular island destinations. This trend is particularly advantageous for investors interested in short-term vacation rentals or long-term leases in thriving areas.

There is a rising interest in energy-efficient and sustainable properties, driven by environmental awareness and potential cost savings on utilities. Properties that adhere to these standards are becoming more appealing to both buyers and renters.

Average cost of buying property in Greece

As of 2024, the property market in Greece presents a wide range of prices across its most desirable areas and cities, reflecting the diverse appeal of each location to both local and international buyers.

City / AreaCost in EUR per m²Cost in USD per sq ftCost in NZD per m²
Athens€2,200$218$3,489.12
Thessaloniki€1,700$168$2,688.24
Mykonos (Cyclades)€4,000$396$6,339.36
Crete€1,600$158$2,528.64
Rhodes (Dodecanese)€2,000$198$3,167.52

While these figures offer an overview of the current market, property prices in Greece can vary significantly depending on the specific location, property type, and market conditions.

You can easily track the latest trends and price changes on our dedicated page:

Can New Zealanders easily purchase property in Greece?

Yes, New Zealanders can easily purchase property in Greece.

The Greek property market is open to investors from around the globe. There are no legal restrictions specific to non-EU citizens regarding property ownership in Greece.

However, the process involves several steps, including obtaining a Tax Registry Number (AFM), opening a Greek bank account, and navigating the Greek legal system.

It's advisable to work with a reputable real estate agent and a lawyer who specializes in Greek property law to ensure a smooth transaction.

What are the popular regions and areas to buy property in Greece?

Greece's rich geographical diversity and cultural heritage offer a wide array of regions and areas, each with its own unique appeal and lifestyle.

Popular regions for investment and living

  • Athens: As the capital city, Athens combines ancient history with modern urban living. It offers a vibrant lifestyle with a mix of cultural sites, restaurants, and business opportunities. Property options range from historic apartments in Plaka to contemporary homes in upscale neighborhoods like Kolonaki.
  • Thessaloniki: Known for its vibrant cultural scene and university atmosphere, Thessaloniki is Greece’s second-largest city. It provides a dynamic living environment with waterfront properties, modern apartments, and traditional homes.
  • Crete: The largest of the Greek islands, Crete is famous for its diverse landscapes, from beautiful beaches to mountainous terrains. Property types include traditional stone houses, beachfront villas, and modern apartments in cities like Chania and Heraklion.
  • The Cyclades: This group of islands, including Mykonos and Santorini, is renowned for its picturesque white-washed buildings and stunning sunsets. Popular with tourists and investors alike, property options range from luxury villas with sea views to charming island cottages.
  • The Peloponnese: Rich in history and natural beauty, the Peloponnese offers a quieter lifestyle with a variety of properties from traditional village homes to modern villas near the coast. Cities like Nafplio and Kalamata are particularly popular.
  • The Ionian Islands: Including Corfu, Zakynthos, and Kefalonia, these islands are known for their lush landscapes and Venetian architecture. Property options range from coastal villas to rural estates, appealing to those seeking tranquility and natural beauty.
  • Rhodes (Dodecanese): Combining medieval architecture with beautiful beaches, Rhodes is a favorite for both tourists and expatriates. Properties include historic homes in Rhodes Old Town and modern beachfront apartments.

Each of these regions offers unique advantages, catering to different lifestyles and preferences, making Greece an attractive destination for property investment.

What is the step-by-step process for buying property in Greece?

1. Obtain an AFM

AFM (Αριθμός Φορολογικού Μητρώου) is a tax identification number for foreigners. It is essential for any significant financial transaction in Greece, including buying property, setting up utility services, and filing taxes.

You can apply for an AFM at the local tax office (DOY). The application requires:

  • a valid passport;
  • a completed application form;
  • a reason for requesting the AFM (such as property purchase).

The process is typically quick, and you can usually obtain your AFM on the same day of application.

2. Open a Greek bank account

A local bank account is necessary for managing payments related to the property purchase, including the deposit, purchase price, taxes, and ongoing utility payments.

Most banks will require:

  • your AFM;
  • passport;
  • proof of employment or income;
  • proof of address.

3. Start searching for properties

Explore online listings on Properstar to find properties for sale in your area of interest. You can leverage our advanced filters and even draw your preferred area on the map.

Consider hiring a real estate agent to gain better insights into the market and assistance in finding properties that meet your criteria and budget.

4. Find the right real estate agent

The right real estate agent can provide insights into the local market, assist in finding properties that meet your criteria, and navigate the negotiation process.

Here's how to ensure you pick the best professional for your needs:

  • Local expertise: Look for agents with a deep understanding of the area you're interested in. They should be knowledgeable about local property trends, prices, and the unique aspects of the community.
  • Language skills: If you're not fluent in Greek, finding an agent who can communicate effectively in your language is essential. They'll act as your liaison with sellers, lawyers, and other parties involved in the process.
  • Experience and credentials: Check the agent's experience and qualifications. They should have a solid track record of assisting foreign buyers and be registered with a recognized real estate association in Greece.

You can utilize Properstar's agent search feature to find reputable local real estate agents. Our platform offers access to a wide network of professionals vetted for their expertise and reliability, making finding someone who meets your specific needs easier.

5. Conduct property viewings

Visit potential properties to assess their condition, location, and suitability.

6. Legal checks and due diligence

The Land Registry (Ktimatologio) is crucial to verify the property's legal status, ensuring it's free of debts, charges, or embargoes and that the seller holds the legal right to sell. This can be done by requesting a certificate from the Land Registry.

Ensure the property complies with local zoning and urban planning laws. This is particularly important for new builds or rural properties, where there might be restrictions.

Although not a legal requirement, it's highly recommended to conduct a property survey to check the physical condition of the property. This can uncover potential issues with the building's structure, utilities, or land.

7. Make an offer

With the help of your real estate agent, make an offer on the property. If accepted, you'll proceed to the contract stage.

8. Sign the preliminary contract (Preliminary Agreement)

This preliminary agreement between buyer and seller secures the purchase and typically involves a deposit from the buyer (usually 10% of the purchase price). It specifies the sale's terms and conditions and commits both parties to the transaction.

If the buyer pulls out, they lose the deposit. If the seller pulls out, they must pay back double the deposit amount.

9. Finalize mortgage arrangements (if applicable)

Finalize the terms with your bank if you're financing the purchase through a mortgage.

10. Sign the deed of sale (Final Contract)

The final step is signing the deed of sale (Symvoliagogiki Praxi) before a notary, transferring ownership. The buyer must pay the remaining purchase price and all associated taxes and fees at this time.

Both parties must present their identification, the AFM, proof of deposit payment, and any mortgage details, if applicable.

11. Register the property

After the deed is signed, the new owner must register the property at the local Land Registry. This step is essential for legal protection.

12. Pay associated taxes and fees

Buyers are responsible for paying property transfer tax or VAT (FPA) for new properties, plus stamp duty, notary fees, and registry fees. Depending on the region, the total cost can range from 8% to 12% of the purchase price.

Taxes for new properties

TaxPercentage
VAT (FPA)24% of the purchase price
Stamp Duty3% of the purchase price

Taxes for resale properties

TaxPercentage
Transfer Tax3% to 24% depending on the value of the property

Additional costs

TaxPercentage
Notary feesAround 0.5% to 1% of the purchase price
Land Registry feesBetween 0.5% and 1%
Legal feesTypically around 1% of the purchase price

Given the complexity of the process, it's advisable to hire a lawyer specialized in Greek property law. They can handle legal checks, negotiations, and paperwork, ensuring your rights are protected throughout the purchase.

Some valuable resources for official information include:

  • Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs: For information on AFM application procedures for foreigners.
  • Ktimatologio (Land Registry): For checks on property legal status.
  • Public Revenue Office: For details on taxes related to property transactions.
  • Notary Association of Greece: Offers insights into the property registration process.

13. Transfer utilities

Transfer utilities to your name and set up local services.

How can one get a mortgage in Greece?

Many Greek banks such as National Bank of Greece, Eurobank, and Alpha Bank offer mortgages to foreigners, though the terms and conditions may differ from those for residents.

Interest rates for mortgages in Greece can vary. Currently, Alpha Bank offers rates around 3.20%, while Eurobank has rates starting at 3.50% for non-residents. These rates are subject to change and depend on several factors, including the bank’s terms and your financial profile.

How to obtain a mortgage

To obtain a mortgage in Greece, you generally need the following documents:

  • A valid passport or Greek tax number (AFM)
  • Proof of income (e.g., recent payslips or tax returns)
  • Recent bank statements
  • A credit report from your home country
  • Proof of your main residence
  • Proof of deposit

Greek banks typically accept documents in English, though having them translated into Greek can sometimes expedite the process.

After gathering your documents, approach banks for mortgage pre-approval, which provides an estimate of the loan amount and interest rates you might expect.

Ensure all property documentation is accurate and up-to-date, including property deeds and energy performance certificates.

Once your mortgage is approved, the bank will handle most of the legal and administrative tasks.

Special considerations for non-residents

Non-residents can usually obtain mortgages covering up to 70% of the property's sale price or appraised value, requiring at least a 30% down payment plus taxes and fees.

The process for non-residents involves more documentation and a slightly different approach compared to residents. It’s also important to note that non-resident mortgages often have higher interest rates than those for residents, reflecting the increased risk associated with international loans.

Final steps

Once your mortgage is approved and you’ve secured your property, there are a few final steps to complete:

  • Hire a local notary to oversee the transaction and ensure all legal requirements are met.
  • Pay the necessary taxes and fees, including property transfer tax and notary fees.
  • Register the property with the local land registry.

By following these guidelines and working with reputable professionals, you can smoothly navigate the process of buying property in Greece.

What are the pitfalls of buying property in Greece?

One key challenge is managing the complexities of Greek bureaucracy, which can differ significantly from what you may be accustomed to in your home country.

For example, ensuring you have the necessary registrations, such as the AFM (tax identification number) and a Greek bank account, in place before beginning the property buying process is crucial to avoid delays.

Real costs of buying property

To avoid financial surprises, make sure you understand the real costs of buying property, including taxes, fees, and potential renovation expenses.

Comprehensive property research

Don't underestimate the importance of comprehensive property research, including legal checks and understanding local market conditions.

Engaging with reputable local real estate agents who can provide guidance tailored to the unique aspects of the Greek market is highly recommended.

Frequently asked questions about property purchases in Greece

Hire a local lawyer to perform due diligence, including a title search, to ensure the property is free of any liens, debts, or legal issues.

Ongoing costs include property taxes (ENFIA), utility bills, maintenance costs, and community fees if the property is part of a complex.

Yes, you can rent out your property, either long-term or as a holiday rental. However, you must comply with local regulations and may need a rental license.

No, you can appoint a legal representative through a power of attorney to handle the process on your behalf.

The Golden Visa program grants residency to non-EU citizens who invest a minimum of €250,000 in Greek real estate. It allows the investor and their family to live in Greece and travel freely within the Schengen Zone. To learn more about the Golden Visa's newest requirements, visit this page.

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