Residence permit for Greece: investment programme statistics for the first 8 months of 2020

September 28, 2020
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Golden visa for Greece: statistic and real estate market in 2020
Photo: Adobe Stock
The Greek Migration Service has published statistics on the residence permit programme for investments. From January to August 2020, 368 investors and 733 family members received the so-called Golden visa. This is almost 10 times less than the number of approved applications for 2019.

The statistics show the interim results of the programme for the eight months of 2020. Although the year is not yet over, it can already be concluded that the Greek residence permit investment programme will not repeat the record results of 2019.

Last year, the Programme Department approved applications from 3428 investors and 7647 family members. According to the Bank of Greece, the country’s income from real estate investments under the programme was EUR 1.45 million.

The drop in demand in 2020 is due to the closure of borders between countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many investors were unable to come to Greece to select a property and submit biometrics for residence permit cards.

Renewal of programme conditions against the backdrop of crisis and pandemic

In May 2020, the Greek government temporarily simplified the procedures for the residence permit programme for investment. Due to closed borders, the following easing was accepted:

  • An investor may not come to the country to formalise the purchase or lease of real estate – its representative (lawyer) may act on behalf of the investor by proxy.
  • The investor does not have to open an account in a Greek bank to pay for the program costs. The full amount of the investment (from 250 000 €) can be transferred from abroad.
  • The representative (lawyer) can collect the completed residence permit card from the Migration Directorate on behalf of the investor.

However, investors still need to visit the programme department for fingerprinting. Therefore, even taking into account the concessions without a personal visit to the country, investors cannot issue a residence permit card that confirms their resident status.

Greece is now gradually opening the border and resuming flights with other countries. With the abolition of quarantine measures, foreign investors will be more actively participating in the residence permit programme. Programme participants will come to the country to draw up residence permit cards and personally choose a property.

However, in 2020 the results of the programme will be significantly lower than in 2019 一 both in terms of the number of approved applications and the amount of funds raised.

The rules of entry into Greece for investors from Russia

Russian investors now have the opportunity to come to Greece to meet the conditions of the investment programme. The country welcomes 500 Russian citizens per week, entering through Athens, Thessaloniki and Heraklion International Airports.

The regime will remain in force until 5 October, after which conditions may be revised depending on the epidemiological situation.

There are a number of mandatory conditions for entry into the country. First of all, a citizen of the Russian Federation must carry a certificate with a negative coronavirus result. Upon entry, you must present a hotel reservation or other document that confirms your place of residence in Greece.

The Russians are the third largest number of approved applications in the history of the Greek residence permit programme for investment. Since 2014, 976 Russian citizens – 363 main applicants and 613 family members – have received the Golden visa.  

To participate in Greece’s residence permit programme for investment, you need to invest from 250 000 € in real estate. In this case, the investor has different investment options: buying real estate, long-term rental of hotels, purchase of land for construction or agriculture.

How the pandemic affected the real estate market in Greece

The Greek real estate market showed stable growth from 2017 to 2019. Positive dynamics were achieved due to the demand for short-term rent in the tourist regions of the country. But due to the pandemic and closed borders, demand fell, which led to lower property prices.

Demand from foreign investors is a determining factor in the formation of prices on the Greek real estate market. This follows from the DBRS Morningstar credit rating agency report, which was published in July 2020.

About 20% of direct investment in Greek real estate comes from China, Russia and Arab countries. These same countries are at the top of the number of participants in the residence permit programme for investment.

The coronavirus pandemic led to the closure of borders and a financial crisis. Construction companies were forced to suspend work and many projects were frozen. Foreign investors were unable to come to the country to select sites and enter into contracts.

With the opening of the borders, demand will recover and prices will rise. We therefore recommend that you invest in Greek real estate in the near future and at the same time obtain a residence permit from an EU member state.

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