The buying process in Greece
The property market
The basic principles when buying a property in Greece are the same as in the UK and most other European countries. There are however enough differences in the procedures that could create difficulties for the unfamiliar buyer. Below are the main points:
- Greece does not operate a Land Registry scheme like it is in the UK with the exception of some islands. For each transaction, solicitors have to check very carefully all the deeds and the history of the property for sale, going at least 20 years back. In recent years, the Ktimatologio (Land Registry) was introduced but it has only covered some areas so far.
- Selling and purchasing property in Greece has to be carried out by a Greek solicitor. The signing of the deeds has to be witnessed by a Notary Public Officer.
- Most properties in Greece are freehold. Apartment owners have a share of the freehold. Leasehold properties exist but are not common.
- Greece-registered estate agents receive commission from both seller and buyer. This is 2%+ from each party.
- In Greece, there is a property evaluation system called Antikimeniki Axia (Objective Value) set by the Greek Ministry of Finance based on location, size and age of the property. In general, Antikimeniki Axia is lower than the actual selling price which is guided by market forces. In places where Antikimeniki Axia has not been established (most rural areas), local tax offices produce an Assesssed Value.
- There is a government tax levied on each property purchased. This is always paid by the buyer and is independent of personal income.
- It is common practice in Greece to state in the Contracts the Objective or Assessed value rather than the actual value. This results in paying tax and professional fees on a lesser amount. The method can, however, create problems for those financing the purchase with a mortgage. Each case has to be assessed carefully to balance the buyer's needs.
- Greeks show a preference for newly built properties. As a result, older properties represent very good value although certain work may be needed to bring them up to date. It is also common in Greece, to buy a house or flat from the developer before it is built (off-plan). This has the advantage that you can have the property tailored to your needs at very little extra cost. They are also a sound investment as they immediately appreciate in value once completed.
Please note that from 1st January 2006, VAT has been imposed on new builds - if the licence was obtained after that date. The VAT replaced the transfer tax.