Whatever your reasons for buying a property, this is probably the first time that you have bought a property in Greece. We have put this guide together to help you understand a little more about the process of buying in Greece.
This guide is aimed at providing some basic information about buying in Greece and tries to answer the majority of the common questions that we are asked about. Although we hope that you will find it useful it is important to remember that it doesn’t cover all legal issues involved and certainly isn’t a step by step DIY guide to buying in Greece.
We’ve also put together a Buying Property in Greece Checklist to help you make sure you haven’t missed out any important steps in the process.
While we hope this guide helps to somewhat demystify the process of purchasing Greek property, it is still recommended that you seek advice from a professional before proceeding – after all we do this every day and have been doing so for many years and therefore know all the tricks and pitfalls that you may come across.
We also know the practical solutions to the problems that exist and understand how Greek law interacts with UK law, so can help to ensure you meet all of the strict requirements of both countries’ laws.
For specific advice on buying Greek property tailored to your needs, please get in touch with our friendly, expert Greek property lawyers based in the UK.
Buying property in Greece FAQs
Is the legal system in Greece the same as the UK?
The Greek legal system is mainly influenced by German and French Law, thus significantly different from the legal system in the UK. The acquisition of real estate property in Greece is subject to specific requirements, such as execution of the purchase agreement in a notarial form, payment of relevant applicable taxes and registration of the respective notarial deed in the Land Registry and/or the Cadastre where the property is located.
Do I need a lawyer to help me buy in Greece?
In the past, it was compulsory for both parties (seller and buyer) to engage a lawyer in case of transfer of real estate and the relevant legal fees were regulated by the local Bar Associations.
Although this requirement no longer applies, it is strongly advisable for the buyer to engage a lawyer, in order to have the ownership title verified and to further ensure the property is free from encumbrances and any third parties’ rights.
Please note that in order to buy a property in Greece, you also need to have a Greek Tax Identification Number. Normally, your lawyer will take care of that as well.
For more information, please take a look at our guide to how to choose a lawyer when buying property abroad.
I have heard there are problems with buying property in Greece. Is that true?
Certainly, there are potential problems when buying in Greece, just like there can be in any country including the UK. Most of the potential problems that you read about can be avoided by using common sense and by instructing an independent lawyer to advise you on the purchase.
We often see people with problems with their property and they invariably tell us that they didn’t use a lawyer or used the lawyer given to them by the seller or estate agent.
Are the costs of buying property more in Greece than in the UK?
Yes, the total costs in addition to the purchase price are higher than you will be used to in the UK. It is therefore important to factor these into your budget from the beginning.
Generally speaking, property prices in Greece are currently reduced from levels a number of years ago which not only reduces some of these additional acquisition costs but also makes the purchase price much cheaper.
What are the additional costs involved in buying Greek property?
The main costs involved in buying a Greek property (in addition to the purchase price) are:
- Transfer tax (although you may be exempt in some cases)
- Notarial fees
- Civil engineer’s fees (although these may sometimes be paid by the seller)
To find our more, please take a look at our guide to the costs of buying property in Greece.
There are also various ongoing costs you will need to pay as a Greek property owner, including:
- Municipal duties
- Community charges
- Property insurance
- Utility bills
- Income tax
To find out more, including the rules on Greek tax residence, please take a look at our guide to the ongoing costs of owning Greek property.
Can you get a mortgage to buy property in Greece?
It is worth noting that presently obtaining a mortgage in Greece is not possible. This is because Greek banks have been under a recapitalization process following their financial difficulties. In any case, and even when the banks are successfully recapitalized, given the liquidity constraints resulting from the economic crisis and the austerity haunting the country, it will take a long time for the banks in Greece to return to normal business conditions, including offering financing facilities etc.
Do you need a survey when buying a Greek property?
If you are buying a property anywhere in the world, we would always recommend that you obtain a survey. If you obtain a mortgage the valuation carried out for the mortgage company will only look at whether the property is worth the amount you have negotiated.
Any defects in the property which do not affect the value will not normally be shown on the report. A survey will rate the condition of all permanent structures and will highlight any important problems that could affect the property value.
An independent lawyer should always complete a legal due diligence of the property, including conducting necessary searches within the competent Land Registry/ Cadastre. However, we would always recommend that you also obtain a technical due diligence report from a civil engineer.
A civil engineer will check with the competent City Plan Authorities whether the property is appropriate for the scoped use and complies with all legal requirements, including any building restrictions for reasons related to the protection of the environment etc, as well as with any building permits already issued.
Should you use a Power of Attorney to buy property in Greece?
When it comes to buying real estate property in Greece, the sale agreement needs to be signed before a Notary Public in Greece (or the Greek Consul in the buyer’s place of residence, which is normally an option when the seller is based in Greece).
Having said that, it seems preferable for the buyer to grant a Power of Attorney to a third party (usually a local lawyer) to sign the purchase documents on their behalf rather than travel to Greece to sign in person.
A power of Attorney is a document which allows a third party to do something on your behalf. The Power of Attorney is drafted by the buyer’s lawyer and needs to be notarized and Apostilled in accordance with the Hague convention of 1951.
Granting a Power of Attorney has several advantages:
- It saves you time, allowing you to avoid taking time out of your busy schedule to go out to Greece to sign the paperwork
- Signing various contracts is not particularly exciting and most people prefer to use their time enjoying the property rather than signing pieces of paper
- It is usually cheaper than the cost of travelling to Greece to deal with the purchase yourself
You should only give a Power of Attorney to somebody you trust as it allows that person to do things legally on your behalf.
For more information, please take a look at our guide to using Powers of Attorney.
How do Greek title deeds work?
The notarial purchase agreement is the equivalent in Greece of the Title Deed in the UK.
Transfer of ownership from the seller to the buyer takes place once the notarial purchase agreement is executed and registered with the competent Land Registry/ Cadastre.
Who should own the property?
This is probably the most important decision that you can make. Getting this right can save you thousands in costs and taxes. Getting it wrong can be an expensive mistake.
The way that you would buy a property in your home country is not necessarily the best way to buy in Greece so don’t assume that you can adopt what you have done here to your purchase in Greece.
There are many options – ranging from personal ownership to company ownership but there is no “one size fits all” solution that works for everybody.
Your circumstances and priorities are different from the next person. We are able to look at your circumstances and your priorities and advise you who should own the property based on that information. The solution may not necessarily be immediately obvious.
When deciding on the best form of ownership we would need to take into consideration both Greek and UK tax and also a range of other circumstances such as your plans for the property in the future.
For more information, please read our guide to company ownership of foreign properties.
Who do you need to inform when you buy a property in Greece?
There are various organisations, companies and official bodies you will need contact when you buy a Greek home, including:
- Residents Association
- Water and Electricity
- Town Hall
- Moving in
- Licensing authorities for Controlled Areas
To find out more, please take a look at our guide to who to tell when buying a Greek property.
Do I need to make a Greek Will when I own property in Greece?
Greece has different inheritance laws to the UK, so it is generally a good idea to make a Greek Will in addition to your UK Will. While you can simply leave your Greek property to your chosen beneficiaries in your UK Will, this will normally significantly increase the inheritance costs to your beneficiaries and does not generally make financial sense.
To find our more, take a look at our guide to making a Greek Will.
How does Greek inheritance tax work?
Greek inheritance tax rates for property depend on the value of the property and the relationship between the deceased and the person receiving the property (or share of the property) as an inheritance.
To find out more including information on current Greek inheritance tax rates, please see our guide to inheritance tax for Greek property.
Our legal fees for buying property in Greece
We charge 1% of the purchase price subject to a minimum of £2,000 + VAT for standard property purchases.
If the property title is defective or unexpected additional work is required, then there may be additional charges. However, we would inform you before any additional cost is incurred, so you stay in control of your spending at all times.
Our charges include:
- Legal advice on the terms of your offer to purchase
- Searches regarding any due payments for electricity, municipality charges etc
- Searches at the Land Registry/ Cadastre
- Obtaining certificate from the Community of Owners (if appropriate)
- Checking the legal status of the property and the seller’s right to sell
- If appropriate checking the guarantee provided by the vendor
- Preparing a report on our searches and advising you on the purchase
- Arranging the signature of the title deed
- Arranging payment of the relevant taxes
- Arranging registration of the property at the Land Registry General
- General hand holding and advice throughout the transaction
Why use Judicare for buying property in Greece?
We have an experienced Greek legal team comprising Greek lawyers and English lawyers who have studied Greek law.
We are UK-regulated solicitors
We are a UK based firm of Solicitors regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and who specialise in international legal issues.
We understand both UK and Greek law
Because we understand both sets of laws, we understand the difficulties that come when two sets of laws meet. This is particularly important when it comes to issues involving ownership, taxation and inheritance.
We are members of AIPP
The Association of International Property Professionals was set up to improve standards of professionalism in a largely unregulated overseas property market.
Our Greek property law team has many years of experience dealing with a whole range of legal issues with Greek property.
We speak your language
You need a lawyer who can speak your own language. More importantly you need somebody who can explain and discuss often complicated issues in terms that you understand.
We are independent. We are not allowed to act for the buyer and the seller at the same time. We are not linked with any Development Companies, Builders or Estate Agents.
Need help buying property in Greece?
Our UK-based team of property lawyers are highly experienced in helping clients to buy and sell property in Greece, as well as handling a whole range of related issues, such as advice on Wills and inheritance.
With a thorough understanding of both UK and Greek property law, we can provide clear, reliable legal guidance in plain English, giving you the confidence to deal effectively with property in Greece.