Do you have questions about buying property in Greece after Brexit? In this simple guide, we outline the entire property buying process, including mortgages, getting your visa and how to avoid the common pitfalls.
How to buy a property in Greece
1. Get your AFM number
Before buying property in Greece, you will need to get an AFM number. This is your tax number, and you will need it to not only buy property, but to legally work in Greece, open a bank account and much more.
You can get an AFM number at your local Greek Tax Office (Eforia). You will normally need to show your passport and a photocopy of passport, full birth certificate and a photocopy of birth certificate, and a marriage certificate if married.
2. Hire a property lawyer
Before you get any further in your Greek property buying journey, we would highly recommend hiring an independent, English-speaking lawyer who specialises in Greek real estate. They will be able to conduct due diligence on the property you are interested in and ensure the contract is exactly how you want it.
A lawyer will also ensure you are not liable for any leftover charges from the previous owner – such as mortgage costs and taxes – and that your property complies with planning and building regulations.
3. Decide how you will pay for your property in Greece
While it is possible for non-residents to get a Greek mortgage, some Greek banks can be reluctant to lend to foreigners. Having a Greek bank account can help your case as banks may be more likely to lend to existing customers.
Therefore, it may be worth considering other ways of paying for your Greek property. Some common methods include equity release, renting out a property in the UK and downsizing in the UK and using the extra cash to buy property in Greece.
4. Make an offer on a property
It is now time to make an offer on a property in Greece.
If your offer is accepted by the seller, your lawyer will help to draw up an initial purchase agreement. Both you and the seller will sign it and you will likely pay a 10% deposit to reserve the property.
Your lawyer will then perform a title search on the property to ensure there are no existing charges or taxes on the property. Once this is all completed, you can proceed to settling the remaining balance and necessary government duties. You will need to hire a notary public (separate from a lawyer) to prepare the contract deed. Both parties must sign the contract deed in the presence on the notary public. Closing usually takes four to six weeks.
5. Protect your budget from currency exchange rates
As mentioned above, there will be a period of time between making an offer on your Greek property and actually making the final payment. If you are transferring your funds between currencies, such as from pounds to euros, it is important to consider the exchange rate and its inevitable fluctuations.
You will have agreed a price in euros, but if the exchange rate changes, this could cost you more in pounds than you had initially budgeted for. For example, in the last 12 months, a €200,000 property has varied in price by over £14,000 due to fluctuating exchange rates.
This risk can easily be mediated by using the services of a currency exchange provider, such as Smart Currency Exchange. They can discuss the best options for you, such as locking in an attractive exchange rate for up to 12 months, meaning you won’t have to worry about the pound potentially weakening against the euro and your property costing more than you expect.
6. Decide if you need a visa
While you don’t need a visa when buying property in Greece, you may need one if you wish to spend long periods of time in your Greek home. So, the next question to ask yourself is how long you plan on spending in your Greek property.
If you only plan on spending short periods of time there, such as for holidays, then you may not need a visa. Non-EU citizens can spend 90 days within a rolling 180-day period without a visa.
If you want to spend longer periods than this in Greece, such as for retirement or a permanent move, then you will need a visa. There are several options but the most common option is the Independent Financial Means (National D visa). As the name suggests, you must be able to prove you can financially support yourself without relying on the state. For more details on this visa and other visa options, read our article ‘Applying for a visa in Greece’.