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Buying Property in Greece as an American: Tips for Overseas Buyers

buying property in greece as an american

Considering buying property in Greece as an American? You’ve come to the right place! Greece’s stunning landscapes, rich history, and relaxed lifestyle make it a dream destination for many.

Whether you’re considering a holiday home or a permanent move, this guide will walk you through the ins and outs of purchasing real estate in this beautiful Mediterranean country. From legal requirements to the best places to buy, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s embark on this exciting journey of owning a piece of Greece!

Buying a House in Greece

Buying a house in Greece can be an exciting venture, but it’s essential to understand the steps involved. Here’s a simplified overview of the typical process:

Find Your Dream Property

  • Explore listings online or through local agencies.
  • Visit properties to get a feel for the area and the house itself.

Negotiate the Price

  • Prices in Greece can often be negotiated, so don’t hesitate to make an offer.
  • Consider hiring a local real estate agent for assistance.

Hire a Lawyer

Sign a Preliminary Agreement

  • This agreement is usually signed with a deposit (around 10% of the purchase price).
  • It outlines the terms of the sale and is binding for both parties.

Obtain a Tax Number

  • Before the final purchase, you’ll need a Greek tax number (AFM).
  • Your lawyer can assist with this process.

Finalize the Sale

  • The final contract (sales agreement) is signed before a notary public.
  • The remaining balance is paid, and ownership is transferred to you.

Documentation Needed

  • When buying a house in Greece, prepare the following documents:
  • Passport or ID
  • Greek tax number (AFM)
  • Proof of funds for the purchase
  • Power of Attorney (if using a representative)
  • Legalized translations of documents (if not in Greek)

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Best Places to Buy Property in Greece

buying property in greece as an american

Greece offers a diverse range of regions, each with its own charm and appeal. When considering where to buy property, it’s essential to align your preferences with the characteristics of each area. Here are some of the best places to buy property in Greece:

Athens

  • Greece’s capital offers a mix of ancient history and modern amenities.
  • Ideal for those seeking a vibrant urban lifestyle with cultural attractions.
  • Property types range from historic apartments to modern condos.

Crete

  • Greece’s largest island with a rich history and stunning landscapes.
  • Popular for its beautiful beaches, charming villages, and archaeological sites.
  • Offers a mix of traditional stone houses, villas, and beachfront properties.

Santorini

  • Known for its iconic white-washed buildings and stunning sunsets.
  • Highly sought-after for its unique architecture and views of the Aegean Sea.
  • Property options include cave houses, luxury villas, and boutique hotels.

Peloponnese

  • A peninsula with diverse landscapes, from mountains to beaches.
  • Ideal for nature lovers and history enthusiasts with ancient ruins and medieval castles.
  • Offers a mix of traditional stone houses, estates, and seaside villas.

Mykonos

  • Famous for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, vibrant nightlife, and luxury lifestyle.
  • Highly desirable for investment properties due to its popularity with tourists.
  • Property options range from chic apartments to exclusive villas with private pools.

Living in Greece as an American

Moving to Greece as an American can be a rewarding experience, offering a blend of ancient history, stunning landscapes, and a relaxed Mediterranean way of life. Here’s what you need to know about living in Greece:

Cultural Immersion

  • Embrace Greek culture by learning the language and customs.
  • Participate in local festivals, such as Easter celebrations and village feasts.

Healthcare

  • Greece has a public healthcare system, and expats can also opt for private healthcare. Keep in mind that access to the NHS is given if you are employed in Greece or a self employed person. If not you only have access to emergency services.
  • Americans may want to consider private health insurance for more extensive coverage.

Cost of Living

  • Greece offers a relatively affordable cost of living compared to many Western countries.
  • Rent, groceries, and dining out can be budget-friendly, especially in smaller towns.

Residency and Visas

  • Americans can stay in Greece for up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa.
  • For longer stays or residency, explore options such as the Greek Golden Visa program.

Climate

  • Enjoy Greece’s Mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers and mild winters.
  • Coastal regions offer beautiful beaches and opportunities for water activities.

Food and Cuisine

  • Indulge in Greek cuisine with fresh seafood, olives, feta cheese, and olive oil.
  • Explore local markets for fresh produce and traditional Greek dishes.

Community and Expat Life

  • Connect with other expats through social groups and online communities.
  • Expats often find a welcoming community in Greece, especially in popular expat areas.

Driving and Transportation

  • Consider getting a Greek driver’s license if staying long-term and once you have obtained your residence permit.
  • Public transportation is available in major cities, but a car may be necessary in rural areas.

Work and Business

  • Americans can work remotely or start a business in Greece.
  • Understand tax implications and regulations for working as a freelancer or entrepreneur.

Education

  • International schools are available for expat children, offering English-language education.
  • Greek public schools may require language proficiency for enrollment.

Buying Property on Greek Islands

Owning property on a Greek island is a dream for many, offering a tranquil escape amidst stunning landscapes and rich history. Here’s what you need to know about buying property on the Greek islands:

Island Diversity

  • Greek islands offer diverse landscapes, from rugged cliffs to sandy beaches.
  • Each island has its own character, from the cosmopolitan to the secluded.
  • Santorini: Famous for its iconic architecture and breathtaking sunsets.
  • Mykonos: Known for its vibrant nightlife, luxury villas, and cosmopolitan atmosphere.
  • Crete: Greece’s largest island, offering a mix of history, beaches, and traditional villages.
  • Corfu: With its Venetian architecture, lush landscapes, and historic charm.
  • Rhodes: Known for its medieval Old Town, beaches, and ancient ruins.

Property Types

  • Villas: Luxury villas with stunning sea views and private pools.
  • Traditional Houses: Charming stone houses in village settings.
  • Apartments: Modern apartments in town centers or beachfront locations.
  • Land: Opportunity to build your dream home on a Greek island plot.
  • Work with a local lawyer to ensure a smooth transaction and understand local regulations.
  • Non-EU citizens may need to obtain permission from the Greek authorities to buy property for border areas like the islands of Easter Aegean, the north of Macedonia and east of Thrace.

Costs and Fees

  • Property prices vary widely based on location, size, and condition.
  • Budget for additional costs such as property taxes, notary fees, and lawyer fees.

Rental Income

  • Many island properties offer excellent rental income potential, especially during peak tourist seasons.
  • Consider property management services to handle rentals when you’re not there.

Accessibility

  • Some islands have direct flights from major European cities during the tourist season.
  • Ferries connect most islands to the mainland, providing easy access year-round.

Infrastructure and Amenities

  • Larger islands like Crete and Rhodes offer a range of amenities, including hospitals, schools, and shopping.
  • Smaller islands may have more limited infrastructure but offer a quieter lifestyle.

Local Community

  • Island communities are often close-knit and welcoming to newcomers.
  • Engage with local culture and events to immerse yourself in island life.

Environmental Considerations

  • Some islands are protected nature reserves, so development may be restricted.
  • Respect local conservation efforts and regulations when buying land or property.

Pitfalls to Avoid When Buying Property in Greece

Navigating the real estate market in Greece, especially as an American buyer, comes with its challenges. Here are some common pitfalls to avoid:

Lack of Due Diligence

  • Risk: Failing to conduct thorough checks on the property’s legal status.
  • Avoid: Hire a reputable local lawyer to perform due diligence, checking for liens, debts, and ownership disputes.

Verbal Agreements

  • Risk: Relying on verbal agreements without proper documentation.
  • Avoid: Ensure all agreements are in writing and signed by both parties to avoid misunderstandings later.

Overlooking Hidden Costs

  • Risk: Underestimating additional costs beyond the property price.
  • Avoid: Factor in property taxes, notary fees, legal fees, and potential renovation costs when budgeting.

Ignoring Zoning Laws

  • Risk: Purchasing a property that violates zoning regulations.
  • Avoid: Confirm with your lawyer that the property complies with zoning laws and can be used as intended. At Lexidy, we work with a civil engineer to provide this check.

Incomplete Title Deeds

  • Risk: Buying a property without clear title deeds.
  • Avoid: Ensure the property has complete and up-to-date title deeds, especially for older properties.

Unverified Property Boundaries

  • Risk: Disputes over property boundaries with neighbors.
  • Avoid: Conduct a survey to verify property boundaries and avoid potential conflicts.

Not Understanding Taxes

  • Risk: Unexpected tax liabilities or penalties.
  • Avoid: Understand Greece’s property tax laws and obligations, including annual property taxes.

Rushing the Process

  • Risk: Making hasty decisions without thorough research.
  • Avoid: Take your time to research the market, visit properties, and consult with professionals before making an offer.

Not Using a Real Estate Agent

  • Risk: Missing out on local market insights and negotiation skills.
  • Avoid: Work with a reputable real estate agent with local knowledge to guide you through the process.

Neglecting Residency and Visa Requirements

  • Risk: Overlooking visa requirements for long-term stays.
  • Avoid: Understand Greece’s residency and visa rules, especially if planning to stay for an extended period.

Property Prices in Greece

buying property in greece as an american

Understanding the property market in Greece is essential for making informed decisions as a buyer. Here’s an overview of property prices and factors influencing them:

Post-Crisis Recovery
Greece’s property market has been recovering since the economic crisis, with prices stabilizing and even increasing in some areas.

Tourism Influence
Popular tourist destinations often have higher property prices due to demand from both tourists and investors.

Regional Variations

Athens
Greece’s capital city typically has higher property prices, especially in central neighborhoods and affluent suburbs.

Islands
Property prices on popular islands like Santorini and Mykonos tend to be higher due to their appeal to tourists and second-home buyers.

Mainland vs. Islands
Generally, property prices on the mainland are lower compared to the islands, offering more affordability.

Property Types

Apartments
Prices vary based on location, size, and condition, with central Athens commanding higher prices than suburban areas.

Villas
Luxury villas with sea views and amenities often have premium prices, especially on islands.

Land
Prices for land can vary widely depending on location, proximity to amenities, and development potential.

Economic Factors

Market Stability
Greece’s economic stability and growth prospects influence property prices.

Foreign Investment
Increased interest from foreign investors can drive up prices in certain areas, especially tourist hotspots.

Local Demand

Domestic Buyers
Local demand for property is influenced by factors such as employment opportunities, infrastructure development, and lifestyle preferences.

Foreign Buyers
Interest from foreign buyers, including expatriates and investors, also impacts property prices, particularly in popular expat communities.

Affordability

Relative Affordability
Compared to some other European countries, Greece offers relatively affordable property prices, especially in rural areas and smaller towns.

Bargain Opportunities
There may be opportunities to find bargains, especially in areas with less demand or properties in need of renovation.

Market Outlook

Steady Growth
Overall, Greece’s property market is expected to continue its recovery with steady growth in property prices, especially in key urban and tourist areas.

Investment Potential
Investing in Greek property can offer long-term appreciation potential, along with rental income opportunities, particularly during the tourist season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Americans Buy Property in Greece?

Yes, Americans and citizens of many other countries can buy property in Greece. There are some restrictions when buying in border areas. Non-EU nationals must apply for a permit to be able to make a purchase. They will have to provide documents like a criminal record certificate

Do I Need a Greek Bank Account to Buy Property?

While having a Greek bank account is not mandatory, it can be helpful for transferring funds and paying bills related to the property purchase.

What Are the Taxes Involved in Buying Property?

Property transfer tax (usually its flat 3% of the property value) and annual property tax (ENFIA) are common taxes to consider.

Are There Residency Requirements for Buying Property?

No, there are no residency requirements for buying property in Greece. Americans can buy property without needing to live in Greece.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Buy Property in Greece?

It is highly recommended to hire a Greek lawyer specializing in real estate transactions to help with buying property in Greece. They will handle legal matters, due diligence, and ensure a smooth process.

What Are the Best Areas to Buy Property in Greece?

This varies based on personal preferences. Popular areas include Athens for urban living, islands like Santorini for stunning views, and Crete for a mix of history and beaches.

Can I Get a Mortgage as an American to Buy Property in Greece?

Yes, some Greek banks offer mortgages to foreigners, including Americans. Requirements may include proof of income and a down payment. Keep in mind that for foreign nationals this is a very time consuming process that can take up to 8 months.

How Long Does the Property Buying Process Take?

The process can take several weeks to a few months, depending on various factors such as property type, legal checks, and negotiations.

What Are the Costs Involved Besides the Property Price?

Additional costs include notary fees (1%-2% of property value), lawyer fees (1%-2% or more), and real estate agent commission (2%-3% typically paid by the seller).

Is It Safe to Buy Property in Greece Considering the Economic Situation?

Greece’s economy has been stabilizing, and property prices are generally attractive. Like any investment, thorough research and due diligence are key to making a safe purchase.

Conclusion

Buying property in Greece as an American offers a unique opportunity to own a piece of paradise in one of the world’s most enchanting destinations. Greece’s diverse landscapes, rich history, and relaxed Mediterranean lifestyle make it a popular choice for those seeking a holiday home, retirement destination, or investment property.

While the process of buying property in Greece may seem daunting at first, with careful planning, research, and professional guidance, it can be a smooth and rewarding experience.

So, whether you’re dreaming of sipping wine while watching the sunset over the Aegean Sea or exploring historic villages nestled in the hillsides, let Lexidy be your guide to making your Greek real estate dreams a reality. Ready to get started? Simply fill out the form below kickstart your journey!

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