— What are the features of the Greek real estate market?
The Greek real estate market mainly depends on the influx of foreign investment, tourism and domestic demand. They determine the rise in prices and housing availability for purchase and rent.
Favourable conditions for investment. Real estate prices in Greece remain 20—25% lower than before the 2008 economic crisis. At the same time, several large construction and renovation projects are being implemented in the country with the involvement of foreign capital. Moreover, the Greek government provides investors with benefits like VAT exemptions.
In 2021, the international Ernst & Young consulting agency ranked Greece among the ten most attractive European investment destinations.
In terms of foreign direct investment, the country ranks 23rd in Europe. Real estate investments in Greece account for 25 to 35% annually. Investors from China, the UAE, the USA, Turkey and Russia often buy properties in the country.
One of the reasons why foreigners choose property investment in Greece is the opportunity to get a residence permit under the Golden Visa Program.
The Golden Visa Program has been operating in Greece since 2014. 28,767 people received residence permits during these seven years, including 9,610 investors.
The minimum real estate investment to obtain a residence permit is €250,000. When the Golden Visa Program was first launched, unscrupulous brokers and developers inflated prices to meet the program conditions. However, the situation has levelled off recently, and the market is becoming more professional.
Dependence on tourism and focus on short-term rentals. Tourism is one of the leading industries in Greece, involving 10% of the population. Tourism revenues account for 20% of the country's GDP.
The tourist season in most of Greece lasts seven months: from April to October. Some regions receive tourists all year round, such as Athens. Before the pandemic, the flow of tourists exceeded 30 million people.
To meet the demand, most of the real estate in Greece is rented out to tourists. For example, the Airbnb platform has over 90,000 listings on short-term rentals alone.
The peculiarity of the Greek real estate market is the shortage of proposals for medium and long-term rentals. These deals close very quickly. Tenants are most often students and foreign specialists. The contract, as a rule, is concluded immediately for three to four years.
High domestic demand for housing purchases. The Greeks prefer to own their own houses rather than rent. According to Trading Economics, the share of residential property owners in Greece was 74.6% in 2020. At the same time, a typical Greek family, as a rule, possesses several properties.
In 2020, the Greek economy shrank by 9% due to the pandemic, but experience from previous crises’ in 2008 and 2017 has made Greece more resilient.
At the end of 2021, Greece's GDP grew by 8.5%. In 2022, the economy will grow by another 4.9%, and in 2023 by 3.5%. The European Commission gives this forecast.
18,767 building permits were issued in Greece in 2020. It is 8.9% more than before the pandemic in 2019. In 2021, another 11.2% increase in permissions was registered.
Housing prices in Greece are rising twice as fast as before the pandemic. According to the results of the third quarter of 2021, apartments in new buildings have risen in price by 11.15% compared to prices in 2019. Resale housing increased in price by 10.65%.
— What are the best real estate investment areas in Greece, and why?
First of all, we recommend paying attention to Athens and the coastal areas of the capital, such as the Athenian Riviera. Also, the areas around the Ellinikon and popular resorts like the islands of Paros, Santorini, and Crete are interesting for real estate investment in Greece.
Athens is Greece's capital and business centre, where one-third of the country's population lives. The city is surrounded by mountains and descends to the Mediterranean Sea. Due to the location peculiarities, the air temperature in Athens is, on average, five degrees higher than in other regions.
The city was severely damaged as a result of wars and revolutions. Thus, the majority of buildings date back to 1950—1970. There are no buildings higher than seven stories in Athens so as not to block the view of the Acropolis.
There are many narrow streets in the capital, and historical monuments are mainly concentrated in the city centre.
Athens is divided into 81 districts, and neighbouring districts can differ dramatically in terms of amenities. One of the reasons for this contrast is that residents pay taxes and utility bills to the budget of their particular district.
Wealthy Greeks and expats choose to live in quiet green areas in the northern suburbs of Athens. The southern suburbs, the so-called Athenian Riviera, are also considered favourable for life: the more south the area, the more prestigious it is.
In the central district of Athens, prestigious areas include Koukaki and Psychiko. Wealthy expats mainly populate Kifissia. Kolonaki and Plaka are tourist areas with many private offices, cafes, restaurants and shops.
There are unfavourable areas in the city, even in the centre, but they are gradually changing and modernising.
Athens is attractive for property investment because the city is not subject to seasonality: tourists visit the capital all year round. People also go to Athens to study or work. Therefore, residential and commercial investment properties are characterised by high profitability.
Examples of investment property in Greece, Athens
The Athenian Riviera includes coastal areas south of the city: from Palaio Faliro to Vouliagmeni. Here, residents of the capital and tourists go for a beach holiday. The journey from the centre of Athens to the Riviera region takes about 15 minutes by car.
The peculiarity of the Athenian Riviera is that buildings not everywhere start from the first coastline. A road runs along the coast from the centre of Athens, separating residential areas from the beach. Near Voula and Vouliagmeni, it turns east: you can already find houses on the seashore.
Demand for residential property investment in Alimos, Glyfada, Voula and Palaio Faliro is growing steadily. It has only intensified due to the pandemic: people began to move to the suburbs with more pleasant and comfortable living conditions.
Piraeus is a western suburb of Athens. Here is the largest passenger port in Europe, berths for yachts, shipping and logistics companies offices, and the University of Piraeus.
The area is lively; many bars and restaurants are on the waterfront.
Piraeus is being actively reconstructed: modern buildings for offices and residential complexes appear on the site of old buildings. Investors from China and the Middle East have already invested more than a billion euros in the renovation of Piraeus.
The Ellinikon is a new area that will appear south of Athens. The territory of the old airport near Glyfada has been allocated for construction. Eight billion euros have been invested in the renovation.
About 800 houses and villas, hotel complexes and office centres, a 200-meter high skyscraper, casinos and restaurants will be built on the territory of the Ellinikon.
After the construction, the Ellinikon will become a centre of attraction for tourists and businesses. Therefore, real estate across the region will drastically rise in price.
Paros is one of the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea. Tourists come to Paros for natural attractions. For example, Kolymbithres is surrounded by white boulders honed by the sea, which creates the effect of alien landscapes.
In the summer, many young people visit the island: Greek students have a tradition of vacationing in Paros after finishing their first year.
Most of the restaurants, shops and nightlife are located in the main port city of Parikia. The resorts of Logaras, Naoussa and Parasporos are also popular among vacationers.
Santorini is famous for its snow-white buildings descending to the shores of the blue Mediterranean Sea. The island's beaches are marked with a "blue flag" and surprise with various colours: on the coast, you can find white, red and black sand.
In 2021, Travel + Leisure named Santorini one of the 25 best islands in the world.
Renting tourist accommodation on the island costs from €40 to €4,000 daily. Luxury offers are also common: they include private pools and sea views.
Crete is one of the most famous Greek resorts. The island has a hot climate; the sun shines 320 days a year. You can come to rest on the island at any time. The swimming season lasts from April to October.
The cost of rent in Crete is comparable to Athens and sometimes exceeds the capital. A residential property investment might be profitable if you plan to rent the housing out to tourists.
— How much does property cost in Greece?
The purchase price depends on the property type and location.
buildings in Athens
Housing in new buildings, as a rule, is valued as more expensive than resale properties. For example, the price per square metre of an apartment in a new house from a reliable developer is from €3,000 in Athens.
You can find very cheap properties on the capital's secondary housing market, but these properties are likely to be in poor condition or a disadvantaged area. The average cost of a square metre of housing for noteworthy proposals is about €1,900.
In Athens, prices vary depending on the area, and the further south the property is from the centre, the more expensive it is.
Prices per square metre of residential investment property for sale in new buildings in Greece in 2022
|City, region||Price per square meter|
|Kavala, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace||€1,300+|
|Thessaloniki, Central Macedonia||€1,513+|
|Halkidiki, Central Macedonia||€2,030+|
|Athenian Riviera, Attica||€3,300+|
|Palairos, Western Greece||€4,700+|
|Lefkada, Ionian Islands||€4,920+|
— What additional costs do property buyers bear?
The buyer of real estate pays a transfer tax of 3%. The tax is levied either on the property value under a sale and purchase agreement or the cadastral price at an “objective value” per square metre, whichever is higher.
VAT for real estate transactions has been abolished until December 31st, 2022.
Registration with the Land Registry and services of a notary and lawyer accompanying the transaction are paid separately.
If the property buyer participates in the Greece Golden Visa Program, they pay a state fee of:
- €2,000 for the main applicant;
- €150 per adult family member.
— What is the profitability of Greek real estate?
The guaranteed yield from renting out real estate in Greece is 2 to 10%.
The highest yield is for properties in Athens. The average cost of renting apartments in the capital region is:
- €400 to €600 per month for renting a one-bedroom apartment;
- €800 to €1,000 per month for renting a two-bedroom apartment;
- €1,200 to €1,300 per month for renting a three-bedroom apartment.
If an investor buys a property specifically for renting out, I recommend focusing on long-term options in Athens and Crete.
Properties on resort islands such as Paros and Santorini are better suited for mixed-use: holiday rentals during the summer months and short-term rentals the rest of the year.
— How much does it cost to maintain real estate in Greece?
Maintenance costs consist of two main items: utility bills and taxes.
The cost of utilities in Greece for an apartment of 85 m² is from €100 per month. The amount includes the cost of electricity, water, heating, and garbage disposal.
Taxes. The annual property tax ENFIA is charged at €0.001 to €13 per square metre. The calculation considers the property age, location and the region's objective value per square metre.
A cadastral value of €250,000 is subject to an additional tax. The rate is progressive: from 0.1 to 1.5%. Properties worth €2,000,000 or more are taxed at 1.5%.
Depending on the property location, the owner pays the annual municipal property tax at 0.025 to 0.035%.
Having your own pool is also subject to an additional tax, equivalent to a wealth tax in Greece. The amount is calculated depending on the pool area:
- €160 per square metre of a pool up to 60 m²;
- €320 per square metre of a pool over 60 m².
Rental income is taxed on a progressive scale. The property owner pays the tax.
Tax rates on rental income in Greece
|Annual rental income||Tax rate|
|Up to €12,000||15%|
|€12,001 to €35,000||35%|
If the annual rental income exceeds €12,000, the landlord will also pay a solidarity contribution of 2.2 to 10%.
— What features should be paid attention to when choosing an investment property in Greece?
I can note several points common to Greek housing. All of them are due to the peculiarities of the climate and development in Greece but may seem unusual.
First, heating. The Greek climate is warm, and the air temperature seldom drops below +10 °C in winter. However, it’s only warm during the day. The winter night might be cold with an air temperature of around 0 °C.
In old houses, there might not be heating at all. But most often, a house heating system is installed, which runs on gas or diesel fuel. The system is turned on for several hours at night, for example, from 10 pm to 6 am.
Residents of such houses buy fuel for heating in clubbing. If someone refuses to pay for heating, the rest have to share the price among themselves: for non-payment, the heating will be turned off throughout the house.
In new buildings, apartments have individual heating systems. In this case, the homeowner pays the bills based on an actual reading, only for the heating for their apartment and does not depend on the neighbours.
Secondly, a parking space in Greece is not always guaranteed when buying a property and may not be included in the housing cost. It is a characteristic feature of cities with dense old buildings, where parking spaces are always in short supply. The cost of a separate parking space is about €20,000.
The third point concerns properties for rent: they are always rented out without free-standing furniture. For example, an apartment may have built-in wardrobes and a kitchen set, but there will be no sofa, bed, or table.
The explanation is simple: when renting an apartment, the Greeks prefer to decorate it themselves. The furniture and decor items move with the owners from apartment to apartment. So if you want to purchase a property for renting it out, you can save on furniture. Fully furnished apartments or villas are not in demand, especially when a management company rents them out.
The fourth point is stairs and elevators. To save space and provide earthquake resistance, stairs are often made spiral. In Athenian houses, elevators are often installed with a door you need to open and close yourself. This feature is common in old buildings but also occurs in new buildings.
— What is the procedure for buying real estate in Greece?
The process of buying real estate takes two months. When a property for purchase is selected, there are five stages:
1. A taxpayer number is required for large transactions, such as a purchase of the real estate. To get it, you need to contact the Greek tax office. The applicant receives a unique nine-digit number used when making payments and paying taxes.
2. A local bank account is needed to buy real estate and pay taxes. If the buyer participates in the Greece Golden Visa Program, they open an account with the National Bank of Greece — Ethniki Trapeza tis Ellados. To open an account, a personal presence is required.
3. Verifying the clean title to the real estate is carried out in the Land Registry or the Greek Cadastre at the place of property registration.
4. The property's reservation is possible while the buyer passes the Customer Due Diligence at a bank and opens an account. After that, you need a purchase and sale agreement, which is signed in the presence of a notary.
The signed sale and purchase agreement is registered in a bar association and the Land Registry.
5. The Land Registry issues a certificate of ownership in the new owner's name.
Suppose the buyer of real estate participates in the Greece Golden Visa Program. In that case, they submit a certificate of ownership to the migration service with an application for a resident permit.
How does a property owner get a Greece Golden Visa?
A property owner passes another five stages to get a Golden Visa
The step is mandatory for Immigrant Invest clients. A certified Compliance Anti Money Laundering Officer checks if any “red flags” in the investor’s biography could affect the result.
However, even if there are any issues, the check helps reveal them in advance. Thus, our lawyers will be able to propose a solution, for example, attaching additional documents to the Golden Visa application
The investor provides lawyers with:
- personal documents like an international passport and a birth certificate;
- property ownership documents and the purchase and sale agreement;
- financial records to prove that the investor’s income sources are legal;
- a police clearance certificate confirming the applicant doesn’t have any criminal records or prosecutions;
- medical insurance;
- recent colour photos.
Immigrant Invest lawyers fill out government forms, notarize copies and translate documents.
The Ministry of Migration and Asylum of Greece accepts documents and applications for the Golden Visa. Investors apply by themselves or delegate it to a lawyer who will act by a power of attorney.
At this point, applicants get certificates allowing them to stay in Greece and live in the country for a year or until they get Golden Visas.
The applicant usually submits fingerprints on the same day as the application. If that’s impossible, a lawyer books a convenient day and time for a visit.
To enter Greece, a property owner needs a valid tourist Schengen visa.
Investors collect the documents by themselves or ask a lawyer to do it.
The Greece Golden Visa is valid for five years and can be extended for another five years. However, the investor must stay the owner of the investment property to maintain the residency.
— What difficulties can investors face when buying investment real estate in Greece?
I often come across the belief that buying an investment property in Greece is cheap and easy. Indeed, you can find many offers at very low prices on the Internet, usually on the secondary housing market. Employees of Greek realty agencies promise buyers the moon. However, not everything is so simple.
Considering the secondary housing market, there might be a high risk of getting a property with an encumbrance such as an inheritance or mortgage debts.
It may turn out in the process that not all owners agree to sell the property. For example, I was told about a case where 28 owners were found, and half of them opposed the sale of the apartment. The deal fell through, and the buyer lost time and money.
If the previous owner did not agree on the redevelopment or glazing of the balcony, the new owner would have to deal with the situation. They will learn about it, most likely, after the completion of the transaction.
Collusion between owners and real estate agents is also common in the secondary housing market. It may turn out that the property cost was overestimated, or the area does not correspond to the declared one.
I recommend buying new housing in Greece directly from a developer. But the developer must be proven and reliable.
For example, it is worth checking if the developer has permission from the archaeological service. The state will indefinitely freeze the construction site if historical artefacts are discovered during construction.
When choosing an object, it is necessary to consider the purchase purpose and the property location. If you want to rent an apartment out, it might be better to do it through a management company. Otherwise, there is a high risk of encountering unreliable tenants. A landlord can evict a non-payer only by a court decision.
When registering a tax number and processing a real estate transaction, you will also have to face the fact that many government agencies in Greece work until 2 pm. Getting an appointment in the morning is a rare success.
— What are the benefits of real estate investment in Greece?
Let’s summarise why buying property in Greece is a good investment.
Entering the market at an affordable price. As I previously said, real estate prices a still 25% lower than before the financial crisis of 2008. In the meantime, they are about 35% lower than in Spain.
High rental yield. Greek developers guarantee a rental income of up to 10% per annum. In addition, if you buy a property for renting out through a managing company, you will get a passive income without troubling to find tenants and maintain the property.
Opportunity to return investments with a profit. Despite being comparatively low at the moment, prices for investment real estate in Greece are growing.
The Bank of Greece reports that property price has been steadily growing since 2018, alongside the country's economy. Thus, if the investor decides to sell the investment property in several years, they might gain capital on the value difference.
Tax incentives. Investors can benefit from several features of the Greek taxation system:
- Property investments are free of VAT until December 31st, while the standard VAT rate is 24%.
- The Greece Government plans to reduce the annual property tax payments by 13%.
- Gifted properties worth less than €800,000 are tax-free.
- New tax residents of Greece can get a special tax status to pay the tax on global income in the form of a flat payment of €100,000 per year.
Getting residence permits for the whole family. A spouse or a registered partner, unmarried children under 21 and parents can get Golden Visas with the investor.
Prospects of EU citizenship. If the investor relocates to Greece and lives in the country permanently, they might become a permanent resident in five years. After two more years, a citizenship application is possible.
However, the investor's family must live in Greece for 12 years to qualify for citizenship.
The Greek passport provides all the rights of an EU citizen. For example, a Greek passport holder is free to live, work, do business or study in any country in the region. Besides, Greek citizens travel to 186 countries visa-free, including other Schengen states, the UK, the UAE, Australia, the USA, Canada, and Japan.
— How does Immigrant Invest help those who want to buy a property in Greece?
Immigrant Invest accompanies clients at all stages: from selecting a property to obtaining Greece residence permit cards.
I am the head of the Real Estate Department. We directly cooperate with reliable developers in Greece and check the documentation for all properties. For the client, we select the property that will meet the investor’s goals and budget.
Immigrant Invest lawyers help you register a tax number and open a bank account in Greece. They also check whether the sales contract is drawn up correctly.
If the investor issues a power of attorney in the name of an Immigrant Invest lawyer, most procedures will take place remotely. Investors will not have to prepare and submit documents to the Greek government services themselves.
Lawyers will also prepare documents and accompany obtaining a residence permit under the investment program.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, it might be. Property prices in Greece are comparatively low: about 35% lower than in Spain. But they have been steadily growing since 2018. Besides, foreigners can get special residence permits for purchasing real estate for at least €250,000.
Athens is great for real estate investments as tourists, students, and international specialists come to the capital all year round. The Athenian Riviera, Paros, Santorini and Crete are popular resort areas with high demand for rental properties. The area around the new Ellinikon project is attractive for investments too.
Prices per square metre vary from the average of €1,400 in Crete to almost €5,000 in Lefkada. The average price per square metre in Athens is €3,000.
The island of Samothrace has the lowest property prices: the average price per square metre is €900. The cost of a square metre in Samos and Salamina is about €950.
€250,000 is the minimum investment in real estate under the terms of the Greece Golden Visa Program. The cost of properties is summed up, so you can buy one or several properties for the desired amount.
If you have selected a region and a property, you will be able to continue with the registration procedure. It takes four major steps:
- First, you get a Greek taxpayer number.
- You open an account at any local bank.
- You conclude a purchase and sale agreement with the seller and pay for the property.
- You get an ownership certificate at the Land Registry.
Formally, yes, you can. But to qualify for a residence permit by investment, the property must be in full applicant’s ownership. That is, it is possible to obtain a residence permit only after the mortgage loan is closed.
The owner of real estate pays the annual property tax — ENFIA. It is charged from €0.001 to €13 per square metre. An additional tax is charged if there is a swimming pool and the property value exceeds €250,000.
Five years is the minimum period of property ownership for participants of the Greece Golden Visa Program. The property can be sold after this period, and the invested money is returned.
The Golden Visa holder can live, do business and study in Greece. As Greek residents, they can also travel visa-free in the 26 Schengen states.
If an investor lives in Greece for seven years, applying for citizenship becomes an option. To do this, you must pass the Greek language, history and culture exam.
Yes, it might be if you like a warm Mediterranean climate, mountains, proximity to the sea, and unique historical and natural attractions. However, you must be ready that, for example, there is no central heating in Greek houses, and parking might be difficult in the old parts of cities as they have narrow streets.
You must live in the country permanently for five years to be able to apply for permanent residence. To relocate to Greece, you must get a residence permit first. One of the easiest and fastest ways to residency is under the Greece Golden Visa Program — by buying real estate for at least €250,000.
No, it doesn’t. However, you can obtain a special residence permit if you buy a Greek property worth at least €250,000. The residence permit, or the Golden Visa, allows the holder to relocate to Greece. Seven years later, the investor will be able to apply for citizenship provided they have lived in the country permanently and passed the Greek language, history and culture exam.