Buying an apartment, house or plot in Greece?   By Christos ILIOPOULOS*

You have recently noticed that prices of the beautiful homes and other properties in Greece, you have been eyeing for the last few years, have dramatically dropped. Therefore, you may sense that the time to buy a nice property in one of the most magnificent countries in the world perhaps has come. What do you do next?
First, you try to pick the property you wish to buy, through the numerous sites on the internet, or by instructing a local real estate agent to show you what is offered according to your preferences, or by visiting in person prospective properties, which you have known through agents, relatives, or friends in Greece. Your obligation towards the agent will be to pay no more than 2% of the actual purchase price, if you buy something they have shown you. You can engage more than one agent and you do not have to pay anyone, but the agency who showed you the property you are actually buying.
Once you have made up your mind on which property to buy and you have reached an agreement with the seller on the price, you must retain an attorney in Greece, who will review the various deeds and other legal documents related to the titles of the property, and then will make the title search at the local land registry to make sure that there are no legal burdens on the property and in general, that there are no legal obstacles to the acquisition. In Greece the title search is very significant, since the legal description, the boundaries and the other characteristics of the property are not always clear, nor properly outlined in the past deeds, and clarifications may be needed to make sure that what you believe you are buying will be the actual property you will buy.
If you purchase a plot or a lot (piece of land within the city,town or village limits) or a land (piece of property outside these limits), you may also need the advice of a local civil engineer, to make sure the plot or land are allowed to be built according to the local building regulations and what is the actual size, height and length of the structure you intend to build.
Once the legal due diligence has been concluded, you pick the notary where the purchase deed is to be drafted, with the advice of the lawyer(s). The buyer is the one who will pay the notary at the end of the transaction and the purchase deed can only be signed at the notary’s office by both parties (seller and buyer) at the same time. Any of the two parties can sign in person or by proxy, with a power of attorney. Right before the deed is executed, the seller must pay the acquisition tax which in most cases is 3% of the purchase price. The money is paid to the seller either by certified bank check(s) of a Greek bank, or by transferring money to the seller’s bank account, anywhere in the world, in which case more details and terms must be added to the sale / purchase deed, to safeguard the rights of seller and buyer.
Finally, the deed once signed/executed at the notary’s office by both parties, must be properly registered at the local land registry, without which the legal transfer of the property to the ownership of the buyer will not take place.
It must be noted that the above is just a general outline of the basic steps in the process of the purchase of a real estate property in Greece. However, in each specific case more actions may need to be taken and more checks may have to be done in relation to forest regulations, environmental limitations (Natura 2000 laws etc.) and other particularities of the Greek administrative and legal practice.
 *Christos ILIOPOULOS, attorney at
the Supreme Court of Greece , LL.M.