Buying Property in Greece
If you have enjoyed your stay on Kefalonia and fallen in love with the Fiscardo area, you may well be considering the idea of investing in property on the island.
A common question visitors ask is “Is it easy is to buy property in Greece?” The answer is yes. If you are an EEC citizen, the process is straightforward enough, not entirely dissimilar to the system you are used to at home and as easy as purchasing any other overseas property. British citizens may find some changes in the process after 29th March 2019, if the UK continues with it’s self policy of self harm and finally leaves the EU. Exactly how things will change will not be clear until the dust has settled! However, it was possible for British Citizens to purchase property in Greece before the UK became a full member of the EU so we hope this will still be the case after a Brexit.
Driving around, you will see so many beautiful old houses, often in sad states of disrepair. Although it would seem logical to assume that these properties are just waiting to be purchased and renovated, this is rarely the case. Greek inheritance laws are complex and as a result, it is not unusual to find properties jointly owned by several different people. Unless they all wish to sell, purchasing under these circumstances would be very difficult indeed.
In the Fiscardo area, there are numerous properties currently on the market and still plenty of building plots to be found. The simplest option is to buy a completed house. The alternative to this is to buy a plot of land and have a house built. However, this process has an additional set of obstacles in that planning permission and a building licence will need to be obtained and unless you are going to be here whilst the house is built, supervising such a large undertaking from a distance.
Property prices in the Fiscardo area are higher than some other areas of Kefalonia. This is a known fact and the local tax department will even place a higher value on property in this area. This is not entirely negative, as re-sale value would be governed by the same rule. If you are looking for a bargain though, prices are definitely lower in the south of the island.
In some countries the value of a property is easy to find as it is calculated on size, area and neighbourhood . On Kefalonia, it is not so simple as house sizes, plot size and views vary greatly, so there is no reliable benchmark. The price therefore, is generally a combination of what the seller would like and what the buyer is prepared to pay.
Building land has a more fixed price and a 1 strema (1,000 sq meter) plot, within a village boundary would start at around (Euro) €35,000 but rising to a maximum of around €70,000 if the plot is in a particularly good location with excellent views.
Once you have found your dream villa, plot or ruin the procedure is fairly simple. However, before proceeding you should make sure of a few points. Firstly, is the seller, the clear and rightful owner? Remember the inheritance laws. You certainly don’t want anyone popping up later, with a claim on the luxury villa you have just purchased. In the case of land, you need to be sure that you will be able to obtain planning permission. There needs to be road access to the land.
If there is only a footpath, you may need to get permission to widen it from neighbours, who may or may not be happy to oblige. Within the village boundaries you can obtain permission to build on a plot 1 strema in size. However, outside the village boundaries you must own a much larger, at least 4 strema plot; there are plans to increase this to 8 strema soon. If there are lots of trees on the land, make sure that this is not designated as forest, as building permission would not then be granted.
In recent years, planning regulations have become more strictly enforced and it is now important that the property you purchase is in compliance with all relevant legislation. If you are seriously considering a purchase, it would be sensible to enquire quite early on, as to whether the property has been checked for compliance. It is quite common for someone to offer a property for sale in good faith, only to find that they have unwittingly breached a planning law some time in the past. These problems can usually be fixed but the bureaucracy involved can take time, so you will be well advised to check on this at an early stage of any negotiation.
The purchase procedure will vary slightly depending on whether you will be in Greece during the process or controlling things by telephone and email from abroad. If you are outside the country you will need to give the lawyer or agent acting on your behalf, “power of attorney” which will empower them to act on your behalf.
It is advisable to use a lawyer. The lawyer would make the necessary enquiries regarding clear ownership etc and then see the process through for you. However, you do not have to use a lawyer.Normally, on agreement between buyer and seller, you would mutually appoint a “Symvoliographos”, literally an agreement writer. This is a respected and official position. If you use a lawyer, a Symvoliographos will still handle the conveyancing part of the purchase.
Next, once the draft documents have been drawn up, you will pay a deposit to the seller and then you will need to visit the tax office to pay the purchase tax on the property. Before this you will need to have obtained a Greek tax number (AFM). You will collect a receipt for the payment, which needs to go back to the Symvoliographos for inclusion in the paperwork.
Finally, some official stamps are put on the new title deeds which are read and signed by you or your empowered representative, the balance of the purchase money is handed over and you are now the owner of your new property.
A power of attorney can be arranged by visiting the Greek Consulate in your country of residence. You need to have a copy of the document ready drawn up in Greek.
This is then signed, witnessed and authenticated at the consulate.
A Greek tax number. This is generally known as an A.F.M. (a-fee-me). This can be obtained from your local tax office. However, it is simpler to get an accountant to obtain this on your behalf. Unless you are fluent in Greek, you will need the accountants’ services on an annual basis, to fill in your yearly tax return. You will not incur any tax liability on income unless this is generated in Greece. However, you will need to pay the annual E.N.F.I.A. (property tax).