Greece is an attractive choice for British buyers, especially when it comes to purchasing holiday homes. If you’re the lucky owner of a Greek property and you’re thinking of selling, read on.
We’ve put together a handy guide covering everything you need to know about selling property in Greece. This includes sellers fees and property taxes, legal requirements, documentation and much more.
We’ll even show you how you could save money with Wise when it comes to transferring the proceeds of the sale back to the UK.
So, whether you’re moving to another Greek property, selling an investment or heading back home, you’ll be all set to put your home on the market.
Let’s start with a quick look at the Greek property market.
Is now a good time to sell in Greece?¹
The Greek economy has suffered more than its fair share of setbacks over the years, including a major crash in 2009. This has inevitably affected the housing market, although prices have been rising in recent years.
House price growth rocketed in 2019, but then the Covid-19 crisis happened. The good news for sellers of Greek properties is that prices are still continuing to rise, albeit very slowly. If you’re selling in urban areas, it’s useful to know that prices have risen by 3.3% by late in 2020, with major cities like Athens leading the way.
If you’re thinking of selling, it’s always a good idea to do some research into the local property market. You need to choose the right time to sell, when prices are healthy and demand for your type of property is high.
The process of selling a property in Greece - a step-by-step guide
1. Establish the legal status of the property²
In Greece, there are strict laws for selling property, relating to whether a building structure is ‘legal’ or not. This is due to decades of planning laws being ignored or flouted in the country.
This means that as the seller, you’ll need to prove your property’s legal status before you can put it on the market.
As of 2011, laws came into effect requiring property owners to provide a ‘legality certificate’ in order to transfer ownership. To get this certificate, you’ll need to carry out a number of detailed checks to verify the legality of the property. This involves bringing in a civil engineer to survey the building, produce a floor plan and issue a Certificate of Energy Efficiency.
At this stage, you may also need to appoint your own lawyer to help with the research and paperwork required. It’s critical to iron out any legal or planning issues before putting your property on the market. An accountant could also be handy to handle tax clearance, documentation and other tax-related issues.
2. Get your documentation in order
A significant amount of paperwork is needed at the initial stages of establishing the legal status of your property. So, it’s a good idea to have the following ready (or get your lawyer on the case):³
- Deeds and Property Ownership Title documents
- Property layout plan (completed by an engineer)
- Certificate of planning and zoning legality (from an engineer)
- Certificate of Energy Efficiency
- Affirmation stamped by the Tax Authority
- Building permits
- Certificate of Local Real Estate Duty by the local municipality
- Copies of your ID
- Lease contract (if applicable).
3. Find an estate agent
You don’t have to use an estate agent to sell property in Greece, but it can be useful. Local agents will have the market knowledge needed to sell your home quickly, and can handle time-consuming tasks like buyer enquiries and viewings. If you’re not currently living in Greece, this can be very handy.
To find an estate agent in Greece, a personal recommendation from a friend or family member is a great place to start. Otherwise, look for an agent who is a member of a professional association such as the Federation of Greek Real Estate Agents or European Confederation of Estate Agents (CEI)⁴. It’s reassuring to know that by law, all estate agents in Greece must be professionally qualified and licensed.
4. Market the property
Now it’s time to start showcasing your property to buyers. Your estate agent (if you have one) should handle the bulk of the marketing activity, including taking great photos and listing it online. Here are some of the most popular Greek property sites to focus on:
5. The initial purchase agreement is drawn up and signed⁵
Once you’ve accepted an offer from a buyer, the next step is for both parties to sign a preliminary agreement. This can be prepared by a lawyer or the notary, a neutral party whose fees are paid by the buyer. The notary is a vital part of property sales in Greece, there to make sure all legal procedures are completed according to the letter of the law. The agreement includes the terms and conditions of the sale, and is binding.
6. The buyer pays the deposit
At the same time that the preliminary agreement is signed, the buyer will pay a deposit to reserve the property. This is usually 10% of the total purchase price⁶.
If the buyer changes their mind, they will lose their deposit. But if you as the seller back out of the deal, you may have to pay the buyer twice the deposit amount they paid by way of compensation⁵.
7. Both parties sign the final sale contract⁵
Once all the legal requirements for the transfer have been met, it’s time to sign a final sale contract. The notary will usually prepare a property transfer declaration for the buyer to submit to the tax office, then a meeting will be held for the final contract to be signed. You’ll need to be there in person, or appoint a legal representative to act for you.
Congratulations, you’ve sold your Greek property. All that’s left to do is for the buyer or their notary to transfer the balance of funds to you, and for you to hand over the keys.
The buyer will register the sale contract at the local land registry, and receive a registration certificate confirming that they are now the legal owner of the property.
How long does it take to sell property in Greece?
The time it takes to sell a home in Greece can vary, depending on various factors such as how active the local market is. And of course, the desirability of your type of property and the area it is located in.
You can expect the initial inspections, research and paperwork involved at the start to take some time, so it’s always a good idea to get a headstart on this if you can.
To give you an idea of how long the actual sales process takes, you can expect completion to happen around 4-6 weeks⁷ after you’ve accepted an offer.
Can I speed up the process?
The very best thing you can do to improve your chances of a quick sale is to get your documentation in order. Read up on what you need to do to prove the legality of your property, and dig out all of the required documents and certificates.
Appointing reputable legal and accountancy professionals to help you is also a good idea, as they can get started on the necessary preparatory work right away.
Fees and taxes for selling a property in Greece
One of the most important things to clue up on before selling a home in Greece are the costs you’ll have to pay as the seller. Here, we’ll run through the main seller fees and property taxes you’re likely to encounter.
What fees will I pay as the seller?
In Greek property sales, the buyer pays many of the fees. This includes the notary’s fees, some legal fees and registration fees. But there are still some seller costs to factor into your budget, including:
Estate agency fees. If you decide to use an estate agent, you can expect to pay around 7% to 30% in commission⁶.
Legal and accountancy fees. There’s often a lot of preparatory work required to establish the legal status of a property and produce the correct documentation ready for sale. If you need the services of a solicitor and/or accountant, there will be additional fees to pay.
You may also have to pay VAT on some fees (such as the estate agent’s commission), which in Greece is set at 24%⁶.
Property taxes for sellers
The main tax associated with property sales in Greece is transfer tax. This is anywhere between 3.09% and 24%⁶, but the good news for sellers is that it is paid by the buyer.
One tax that does concern sellers though is capital gains tax. This is a 15% tax on the profit made on the sale, so the difference between the price you paid for the property and the amount you sell it for. But in another stroke of luck for sellers in Greece, capital gains tax has been suspended until December 2022⁸.
Use Wise to transfer the proceeds from your Greek property sale - and save money
Last but not least, you’ll need to find the most cost-effective way to transfer the proceeds of your property sale. If you’re not living in Greece, this means making an international payment from Greece to the UK - or wherever you hold your main bank account.
If you make this payment using your bank, you could be stung by high transfer fees and other costs. Plus, banks tend to add a mark-up to the exchange rate. This is how they make their profit, but it makes international transfers more expensive for you.
The good news is that there’s a far cheaper alternative available. Send money from Greece to the UK with Wise and you’ll only pay one small transfer fee, clearly stated upfront. Better still, there’s no costly mark-up on the exchange rate. This means you’ll get the real, mid-market rate, the one you’ll find on Google or currency sites like XE.com.
For such a large sum, this could make a big difference to how much the transfer costs you overall.
Have concerns about sending large amounts of money overseas? You don’t have to worry with Wise, as we’re FCA regulated and use sophisticated security and anti-fraud measures to protect your money. You can even track your transfer every step of the way.
After reading this guide, you should have a better understanding of what’s involved, how much it costs and how long it takes to sell property in Greece. We’ve covered all the essentials, including fees, taxes, legal requirements and much more.
There’s an unexpectedly large amount of preparation, documentation and legal checks involved in selling property in Greece. As the seller, much of this burden will fall on you. But if you get on top of it early and use the right professionals to help you, you should find it relatively straightforward to sell your Greek home. Good luck!
Sources used for this article:
Sources checked on 4-Nov-2021.
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