Getting a Greek Golden Visa can be concluded at a
record time but it may also be time-consuming and
tricky, especially when it comes to choosing the right
investment or even the right property. Here are some
things you need to know before you go ahead.
A few valuable tips from our legal team to help you get your golden visa ASAP
What is Faster, Real Estate or Time Deposit
When time is crucial and the investor needs the Golden Visa fast, it is important to make the right decision, as far as the choice of the investment is concerned.
Time Deposits can be a fast option, but it still depends on the implementation of the investment, for example involving more than one different banks can be time-consuming and it may also require a visit to Greece. However, if you proceed with one term deposit bank account, it can be really fast and without the need of your physical presence. Still you should consider that all financial investments have to be approved by the Ministry For Development which require some time.
Real Estate Acquisitions can last from 15 days to many months depending on many factors like the seller, the location of the property, the existence of mortgages, the number of the sellers, the existence of a tenancy, as well whether the seller is individual or legal entity etc. Still, it is possible to conclude a Golden Visa case through real estate acquisition sooner than through financial investments, but only when proceeding with properties that met specific requirements.
Five factors that delay or set at risk your real estate transaction
Non-European citizens are not allowed to buy property in the border areas of Greece for national security reasons.
These border areas include many popular islands, such as Santorini, Rhodes, Kos, Samos, Lesvos, Chios, and Skyros, and some areas along the northern border (Evros, Thesprotia, Kastoria, Kilkis, Xanthi, Preveza, Rodopi, Fiorina, Drama, loannina, Pella and Serres).
In certain cases, it is possible for non-European citizens to buy property in these areas, provided they apply for a special license from the Greek Ministry of National Defence, which is usually issued in 2-6 months.
Unreliable Property Sellers
If you want a smooth property transaction, choose the seller, not the property.
Some property sellers in Greece may be eager, but not always ready to sell, especially on resales, where you have to deal with an individual seller. Most of the time, their property files are not in order, and they need months to collect all the necessary documents. On the other hand, they will push you to pay a deposit “today” because there are always “competitors” to bid on their property.
If you are going to buy from the second-hand market, be prepared to deal with individual sellers: Bad-faith behaviors, unprofessionalism, and collapsed deals are around the corner.
According to the Greek Golden Visa Law, the investment property must be free of encumbrances, meaning it must not be mortgaged. Mortgages or other encumbrances are identified during legal due diligence.
A mortgage does not mean that you cannot buy the property. However, it means that additional steps are needed, usually taking 1 or 2 months, to ensure that the property is free from all mortgages, seizures and claims. Most of the times, the seller require to finance the mortgage from the property price.
So essentially, in a regular sale you would pay the entire amount, get ownership of the property immediately and apply for a Golden Visa straight away. With mortgaged properties, you will need to wait a few weeks for the seller to conclude the court proceedings and eliminate the mortgage, before you will be able to pay off the property and apply for a Golden Visa.
In addition, if the seller does not have the funds to pay the mortgage and a payment in advance is requested, then you should consider that this transaction may potentially carry a moderate to high risk.
Properties Under Construction
Usually, construction companies have their property files ready for sale, which is good so as to avoid delays. In addition, new developments come with a warranty and a release from 24% VAT (up to 31/12/2024), creating a very good opportunity for Golden Visa investors.
However, according to the Greek Golden Visa Law, the property price must be paid in full before you can apply for a residence permit. With under construction properties, payments are usually made in instalments, based on the progress of construction. This means that if you want to buy off-plan or unfinished properties, you have two choices:
• Wait for completion of the property, make the last payment and then apply.
• Pay the full property price in advance, before completion of the property, and apply right away.
It is important to buy from reliable and well-established construction companies and developers, to minimize any potential risks related to the on-time delivery of the property. Whatever your decision is, we can secure your rights by drafting strong and air-tight contracts, prepared by our real estate lawyers.
Properties that are already rented can provide immediate return on investment, but can also hide certain pitfalls:
• By buying a property that is already rented, you also inherit all the rights and obligations that the previous owner had towards the tenant.
• If the rental agreement expires, you may not be able to easily evict the tenant if they are uncooperative and refuse to leave. The procedure may even lead to litigation, with additional delays and costs.
If you do choose to buy a rented property, it is advisable to appoint a lawyer to perform legal due diligence not only on the property titles, but also on the existing rental agreement, in order to check the terms, duration, rent amount and any other special conditions. If you then wish to make changes to the existing rental agreement, or even to the tenant, this should be done before signing the final contract, as additional time may be needed.