This is a simple guide based on our experience: it does not have any legal status.
Asking prices and real prices can vary wildly, so take guidance. For example a property advertised at 120,000 euro may really be able to be bought for 90,000. On the other hand, it may have been keenly priced to sell and the lowest acceptable offer is 115,000.
Generally, Greek owners do not favour protracted negotiations. Offer, counter offer, final settlement is usually it. Small step counter offers, or a very low initial offer will often result in the owner walking away from discussions.
Once your offer is accepted it is normal to put a deposit of around 10% with your lawyer. If you have a good lawyer they will not release the deposit to the owner until all the paperwork is in order. If you walk away from the deal before the deposit has been released, you should get it all returned, less reasonable expenses.
You will usually give your Greek lawyer a Power of Attorney to do everything on your behalf: getting your Greek tax number, setting up a bank account and dealing with all the issues that come up. You can easily set this up when you are on the island or through a Greek consulate. In the UK this usually means going to London.
Surveys are pretty well unheard of here. Greek houses are either stone (old ones) or built with a reinforced concrete skeleton. If it is standing and there are no major cracks in the walls, it is OK. No one can give you a guarantee that a major earthquake would not damage it, but we have minor quakes all the time and anything other than superficial cracks to rendering is rare.
Greek banks will not now lend money to foreigners to buy holiday homes.
On top of your purchase price, you should allow approx 11 – 13% for your other costs: lawyer, Notary, commission and purchase tax. Note that the purchase tax is calculated on the “Objective Value” which is a tax office valuation, not on the actual purchase price. If you get a particularly good deal this might mean that your purchase price is lower than the Objective Value. In that case, you may find your extras increase.
Commission is 2% of the actual purchase price with a minimum of 2,000 euro.
If you have a good lawyer who you trust, getting the purchase deed translated is a waste of money. It will be full of standard clauses including such bizarre statements that it is not with 500 metres of a lighthouse. Essentially what it does is to go through the history of the title to the property and its construction – tracing it back to a legal building permit or a certificate that it was built before permits were necessary.
Often, the property is not 100% legal and the owner will have to get the legalisation completed before the sale can go ahead.
The buying process can take from two weeks to six months depending on whether all the certificates are in place, or have to be obtained. For example, the owner has to have a certificate from the tax office that they do not owe any taxes, there is a new eco certificate to be obtained, plus in some cases a certificate from the Archaeological department relating to the distance from antiquities.
When the contract is ready to sign, your lawyer will tell you the final settlement figure (price less deposit plus extras) and you will transfer the money. At this point it is important to be ready as any delay can cause certificates to expire.
When transferring money – either direct to your lawyer or to your Greek bank account, it is vital that you transfer from an account in your name. The bank will issue a certificate (called a Pink Slip for historical reasons) for the transfer and it must be in your name. You, or your lawyer or your accountant will need this to prove that you imported the money and did not earn it in Greece.
You or your representative will need to file annual tax returns.
Property tax, known as ENFIA is paid annually and based on the Objective Value of the property.
Local community tax is added to your electricity bill and is modest compared to the community charge in most european countries.