What should I pay attention to when buying real estate in Greece?

What is a realistic timeframe for someone from overseas coming to Athens to buy a place from scratch. Do they need to be physically present the entire time?

The time needed to negotiate the purchase deal and conclude the actual property transfer differs for every transaction. I have worked on cases that took one month and others that went on for six months to one year. Delays can be expected when dealing with property where extra enclosed areas have been added illegally and the process to rectify this can take some time. Foreigners do not have to be physically present in Greece for the final closing, appointing a trustful representative or lawyer is equally efficient.


How apartment buildings are maintained through strata schemes or owners groups?

Apartment buildings are made up of separately owned units, often referred to as condominiums by many foreigners. Within the apartment building, there are also common use areas, jointly owned by all owners. Each owner of an apartment owns a certain percentage according to the Deeds of Establishment of the building and transferred upon purchase. Maintenance, amenities and utilities of these areas are paid for collectively by owners (or renters) depending on the ownership entitlements of each unit. Common use funds are handled by one of the owners, referred to an appointed management company in many cases. Decisions on how funds are distributed and used are made in the owners general assembly meetings. A common issue in many older apartment buildings in Athens, is central heating, which is usually not connected due to the high running costs. Owners will usually need to arrange for their own independent heating system in compliance with the Deeds of Establishment.


What things are there to be aware of if an apartment or property needs renovating?

Besides the actual hard cost of materials, there is of course worker’s wages and contractor fees. It’s a good idea to have a contingency budget in place too. When redesigning and upgrading older apartments, there are often hidden costs which only present themselves once renovation has started, especially if existing walls are being knocked down. The good news is that property owners no longer have to obtain a permit for minor repairs or upgrades. In some cases when an apartment is located in a building of historical heritage, the process can become more complicated and restrictive. This is one more reason why it’s a good idea for buyers to consider appointing an architect-engineer before purchasing property, as they can potentially help quantify in advance, the cost and time involved to renovate a place.

How does the buying process in Greece differ from the rest of the world?

Buying property in Greece can be a different experience for foreigners compared to what they are used to back home where it is more common to work directly and solely through real estate agents. In most cases, buyers will work directly with local agents who have signed an agreement with the sellers to showcase the property and not agent to agent. Once you have found a place you love, your representative or attorney can negotiate the final price. The entire procedure of the closing thereafter is usually handled by your representative or lawyer, who will often speak directly with the sellers and/or their attorney.

What are the things should be aware of for people who may be wanting to purchase a property with the view of holiday renting,?

One important factor owners must have in mind is that short-term or holiday rental income must be declared as if one were renting to a long-term tenant. Many property owners have tried to avoid and hide this income, which is why the government is planning to introduce an electronic platform for short-term rentals. Owners must now declare the property, names of renters and the duration of the lease on this platform. Those that do not comply, will face heavy fines.

What are the standard fees for purchasing a property?
There are a number of additional and up-front fees to consider and some of the standard ones include:
•A property tax transfer set at 3.09 per cent* is paid for by the buyer.   (*note this transfer tax is subject to change at anytime and you should consult accountant for the latest percentage).
•Real estate agency or agent fees are usually 2 per cent of the sale price and you should be aware that Greek real estate agents often represent both the buyer and seller.  
•Notary and lawyer fees could either be a set cost or be anywhere up to 1 per cent each of the total transaction value (plus 24 per cent VAT).
•Look out for exchange rates when paying for your property, which will vary from bank to bank.