The procedure to buy a property in Greece can be both time and money consuming, if you’re not aware of the necessary documentation, your rights and your obligations. For that reason, it’s strongly recommended that any potential buyer/investor hires a specialized real estate professional, who will guide you through the whole process, especially if he’s from a foreign country.
From the moment that you conclude your search and decide to move forward with acquiring a property, having settled on the final price, you should hire a lawyer. He will check the seller’s title of ownership, in order to ensure that he’s the rightful owner of the property and has the legal right to sell it. In many cases, there are more than one owners, who have a legal claim on a single property and some of them could object to the sale, or the agreed price. So, it’s imperative to ensure that there’s no unforeseen obstacle, throughout the course of completing a property transaction. The lawyer is also liable to check for any potential zoning illegalities of the property.
At this stage, a down payment is usually customary, together with setting a final date to sign the sale contract. You should also bear in mind, that any down payment isn’t legally binding, i.e. it’s not a guarantee of sale.
If the buyer is a foreigner (non-resident), it’s obligatory to obtain a tax registration number (AFM) and the access codes to the “TAXIS” system. This system makes it possible for the owner to fulfil his reporting obligations (including the payment of the housing tax). This is a primary condition that the Greek State sets for every foreign entity, whether it’s an individual, or a company. Apart from the AFM, it’s also necessary to open a bank account in a local bank. These steps can also be done through proxy, using the lawyer’s services. During the legal checks, it’s also advisable to conduct a technical check of the property, with the help of a civil engineer, in order to ensure that there are no structural concerns regarding the building, which could lead to a future devaluation of the property’s price and investment as a whole.
Meanwhile, the seller is tasked with accumulating a series of paperwork, among which a certificate of energy performance, a certificate with validates that there aren’t any zoning issues and another one which states that all taxes relative to this particular property have been paid. If there’s no legal issue with the property, then the notary, together with the lawyers will draft the final contract, in order to complete the process. The contract details all information, relative to the property, including the price paid. Prior to signing the contract, a declaration is also signed, with the definitive amount of tax to be paid. This is the Transfer Tax which is payable to the state by the buyer.