What is the process of buying property in Greece?
Our company will assist in the whole process of buying property in Greece. The steps and procedure are described below.
Steps for acquiring a Title to a new property.
To acquire a title to a property the following steps ought to be taken:
a. The purchaser must approach a lawyer of good repute and ask him/her to search the titles at the Registry of Mortgages and represent him/her to the Public Notary where the contract deed will be signed. The purchaserís lawyer must carry out his/her search at the Registry of Mortgages and ensure that the vendor holds an absolute title (deed) to the property, that the property is unencumbered, that all acts associated with the construction of the property are based on a lawful planning permission and that all obligatory property taxes burdening the vendor have been paid.
b. The purchaser must secure copies of the title (contract deed) held by the vendor. This is usually carried out through his/her lawyer.
c. The purchaser or the vendor must appoint a Public Notary in the presence of whom the contract deed is to be signed thereby becoming an official transaction whereby the purchaser acquires the title to the property purchased.
d. The purchaser must apply for and secure a Tax Registry Number (AFM or Ń÷Ő) from the Inland Revenue Service.
e. The purchaser must make sure that the transfer tax is paid prior to signing the contract with the aid of his/her lawyer. The tax is paid by the purchaser.
f. The contract deed must be transferred at the Registry of Mortgages and the relevant official certificates secured. This is usually carried out by the purchaserís lawyer.
g. If the property has already been registered under the National Land Registry the purchaser must submit a copy of the contract deed together with the transfer certificate from the Registry of Mortgages so that the said property be properly registered in his/her name.
It is customary, when buying built property, which is at its early stages of construction, to sign a Private Agreement laying out the terms of the sale and for the official contract to be signed later on. This Private Agreement is binding only as a usual contract and does not provide any party with specific performance rights. Hence, in the event that the contract is breached by either party, the injured party is only entitled to damages. A reputable developer will always treat such Private Agreements as if they were the proper contract deeds and will never entertain thoughts of breaching them whatever the extra profit.
Is there a Land Registry system in Greece?
Greece is in the process of establishing a National Land Registry whereby official certificates and titles shall be issued for property thereby securing the ownership of property by the State. Some areas already have a Land Registry (such as Rhodes and the Cyclades islands in general) while ownership of property in the remaining areas is based on a different system, that of the Registry of Mortgages on a Municipal basis.
What is the Registry of Mortgages?
The Registry of Mortgages is a State Authority where titles to property are kept and where all encumbrances on properties are registered. Property is filed under the names of the owners as opposed to the Land Registry system whereby property is filed under the National Grid irrespective of who the owner is. Lawyers are entitled to check property belonging to any individual or company to establish whether it has been properly transferred, whether it is encumbered, whether there are any claims, etc. This is always carried out in the conveyancing process with the aim of securing the future purchaserís rights.
What is the difference between registering a property under the Land Registry or the Registry of Mortgages?
The difference between the two cases lies in the basis of the security of the titles: once an owner holds an uncontested title from a Land Registry it means that his/her title is secured by the State, while in the Registry of Mortgages the title is secured through the contract held by the owner, and hence, the owner must secure his interests through his lawyer. Therefore, in the first case there is an independent Authority, which regulates the various ownerships while in the second the process is left to individuals on a contractual basis. Diligent legal work will mean that ownership is as secure with the Registry of Mortgages system as with the Land Registry one.
How will you be able to help me buy a home in Greece?
We will be able to show you all our properties, recommend a reputable lawyer and guide you through the whole process.
What are the "Objective Values"?
In many cases purchasers opt to declare as the contract amount, the Government- issued values, for tax purposes, the so-called "ObjectiveValues". These are calculated on the basis of Governmental Data by the Public Notary and the Inland Revenue Service. The "objective value" of each property is calculated according to a specified formula and a price per sq.m for the location and particular characteristics of a property. The advice of your lawyer is highly recommended on this issue.
Who is the Notary?
The Notary is a state official in the presence of whom the contract deed is read and signed by both vendor and purchaser. He/she is there to draft the contract deed, make sure that both vendor and purchaser understand it and verify and register in the public records the transaction, which takes place in his/her presence.
What does the Notary do?
The Notary is not there to advise or to protect either the vendorís or the purchaserís interests. He/she is there to record the transaction based on a contract prepared by him/herself. When this record is made then the contract becomes a valid title to the property purchased. The process is completed by registering the contract at the Registry of Mortgages, which results in the transfer being effected. The parties concerned meet at the Public Notaryís office where the contract is read out and they place their signatures on the contract and the Public Notaryís Registry Book. Payments by the Purchaser to the Vendor are made on the basis of their contract at the Public Notaryís office. The Public Notary issues official receipts upon request.
How is the property transferred in my name?
Following the signing of the contract the purchaserís lawyer takes it to the Registry of Mortgages and effects the transfer of the property in the purchaserís name by issuing the appropriate certificates.
Do I have to be in Greece to complete the transaction?
No, you do not have to be present; you can give authority to another person to represent you by signing a Power of Attorney document.
What is the "Power of Attorney"?
It is a legal document signed by you in the presence of a Public Notary. It contains concrete and specific guidelines and it can be addressed to any person you choose.
Where does the jurisdiction of your company end in the acquisition process?
Our duty is to ensure that the procedure for signing the contract deed is properly followed and that you acquire a sound title to property.
In whose name could you purchase the property?
a. In your own name
b. In the joint names of you and your wife/husband or co-purchaser(s)
c. In your childrenís names or in the name of somebody who will eventually inherit the property from you
d. In the name of a company either local or overseas or even an offshore one.
Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Everything depends on your own personal requirements. It is worth paying careful attention to this point because of the potential tax and other savings that can be made at a later stage.
What about raising the money?
It is possible to raise finance for buying property in Greece as some Greek banks can offer different modules of finance. Our company can help with this through the Bank of our Group or other banks with which we do business.
What are the associated costs for acquiring a property in Greece?
The purchaser will have to pay the following obligatory costs as defined by Greek Law:
a. Lawyer 1% of contract amount up to Euro 45.000,00 approx. plus 0.5% for amounts exceeding Euro 45.000, 00. *
b. Public Notary 1.5% of contract amount.
c. Transfer Fees 11% of contract amount.
d. Registration Fee 0.5% of contract amount.
(*Note: Legal costs for checking the title are not included)
Payments of Transfer Tax must take place prior to the signing of the contract deed. Should the signing of the contract deed be cancelled for whatever reason while Transfer Tax has already been paid, the Tax is refunded after making the appropriate application to the Tax Authorities.
How is the property tax calculated in Greece?
The total value of all property holdings of a person or legal entity are summed up and tax is determined on that. Tax is calculated on "Objective Values".
How about insurance?
Although no market standards exist as to the forms of insurance that have to be taken out, it is reasonable to suggest that the owner of the property should insure his/her property against risks given below. Usually insurance risks include fire, earthquake, water damage, breaking glass, storm, theft, and third party although insuring against such risks it is rather unusual by local standards.
How do I get the money to Greece?
By a simple transfer from your account to an account in Greece.
Is there anything else I should do at the same time as buying a property?
No, there is no need to do anything else as the basic issues are discussed above.
What happens if I decide to live and /or work in Greece?
There is no restriction to live or work in Greece for EU nationals. Others must apply for permission.
What about Resident and Work permits?
Resident permits are a formality for EU citizens, although non-working residents must have sufficient income to maintain themselves in Greece. Visitors can stay for 3 months without any formalities but if someone wants to stay longer a resident permit is required. Work permits are not necessary for EU nationals.
Are there any problems for a foreigner in buying a property in Greece?
In areas near the national borders and in some islands, non-EU nationals require a special permission by Local Council in order to purchase property. There is no restriction for all other mainland or island areas. This permission tends to be a formality for non-controversial nations. Thus, if you are a EU national you do not have any problem purchasing property anywhere in Greece.
What is the nature of ownership of buildings in Greece?
Most properties built in Greece are owned in absolute ownership (Fee Simple Absolute). In some cases, for tax or other purposes, ownership may be split into two parts: the life interest income portion of ownership, called "epicarpia", and the residual value and ownership right called "ypsili kyriotita". After the death of the person who has the "epicarpia", so called "epicarpotis", this right is automatically transferred to the person who has "ypsili kyriotita" who has absolute ownership. Unlike London, New York and other major cities where ground leases and long term building leases (over 12 years) have been in existence for years, these have only recently been adopted in Greece. An official list of all ownerships is currently being drawn. Usually, deeds and court decisions to this effect are sufficient proof of title to a property.
After I have settled in, what are my continuing obligations?
Since you have acquired property in Greece you have the obligation to submit a statement to the tax authorities each year, declaring your property, in order to pay any taxes due for the said property.
What happens if either my co-owner or I should pass away?
It depends on who the co-owner is (i.e. Husband, wife, third person etc). Our company can assist you through any legal matter.
Why invest or live in Greece?
Investing in an expanding economy with a major and increasing economic role in the Balkans which is part of the EU and the Euro area is always a paying proposition. Greece has the highest growth rate in Europe and, given its prospects, is anticipated to keep this position in the foreseeable future. It is also a natural destination for holiday homes. With a very low crime rate, low cost of living in most areas, a friendly and hospitable people ready to teach others how to enjoy the simple things in life and a natural environment and weather hard to beat, it is one of the best countries in which to live. In Greece your stress level will drop and your enjoyment of life will rise.