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GreeceOPINION; Is This Parcel Of Land Buildable Or Not?

OPINION; Is This Parcel Of Land Buildable Or Not?

Hellenic News of America
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By Christos ILIOPOULOS*

In the last six years, as the economic crisis was heading to an end, Greece has been experiencing a real estate boom. Values of immovable property have gone up, in most areas prices have reached the pre-crisis levels of 2009 (during the period of hardship there was a 40% average drop), and in some parts of the country prices have gone even higher. Within this climate, many Greeks and foreigners focus on out-of-city-limits parcels of land as suitable opportunities for investment.

Zoning regulations in Greece divide land into two main categories. Land inside the city, town or village limits, where smaller in size plots can be developed into houses or buildings, and out-of-city-limits tracts of land, where in general you are not allowed to build unless you own a parcel of minimum of 4,000 square meters provided additional building requirements are met. The general rule for decades has been that if you own a parcel of minimum 4,000 s.m. you are allowed to build a home of about 150 – 200 s.m. possibly with some additional underground space. That is why from 1928, when building on parcels outside the town or village limits was allowed for the first time, until the beginning of 2023, the general public knew that such a parcel had value if it had a minimum size of 4,000 s.m. while exceptions permitted building on even smaller parcels, if they faced one or more roads etc. However, there were cases where even parcels which did not have direct access to any type of road (“blind” parcels, as they are called), could also be built upon, provided they had a minimum size of 4,000 s.m.

In the beginning of 2023, however, the Supreme Administrative Court of Greece (equivalent to the Conseil d’ État in France), issued one and then more rulings which created a small revolution, by adding for the first time more requirements for the buildability of out-of-city-limits parcels. In plain words, according to these court rulings, the minimum size of 4,000 s.m. for such a parcel of land does not ensure that the parcel is buildable. This means that hundreds of thousands of parcels all over Greece (some talk about two million parcels), which had a certain market value for decades, because their owners and potential buyers knew they could build a house of about 180 s.m. give or take, may not be buildable anymore and their development fate and value are uncertain, to say the least.

By losing their “buildability” such parcels of land may result in losing roughly 80% of their value. If we take into consideration that the vast majority of the lower and middle class families in Greece own one or more of these out-of-city-limits parcels, we can grasp the economic damage inflicted upon a vast section of the Greek society. In addition, anyone thinking of investing in the purchase of such parcels must know that, at this specific time, their legal and zoning regime may be like shifting sands. After the Supreme Court rulings of 2023, prospective buyers of these parcels of land cannot be certain whether they will be able to legally build a house or any construction on them. If they can’t build, the value of the parcel will sharply decline and much fewer people will think it is worth buying.

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The Court’s recent decisions and certain government laws during the years have added more building requirements, which include the precondition that the parcels of minimum 4,000 s.m. must have also been formed before a certain time (year 2003 or 1985 etc.), that the parcels must have a face of minimum 25 meters on a road, that this road must have been officially recognized by the Greek state and some more, which add to the confusion and make the decision whether a specific parcel is buildable or not, presently, a difficult and uncertain exercise. Even some building authorities around Greece have temporarily stopped issuing permits to build on such parcels until the rules are properly defined. The present Greek government is about to pass a highly anticipated law, which the real estate market, lawyers, notaries and above all civil engineers, hope that will clarify the legal regime of the parcels of land lying outside the city limits in order to allow owners and buyers to know the rules by which they will make their investment decisions.

*Christos ILIOPOULOS, attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece , LL.M. www.greekadvocate.eu, e-mail: [email protected]

The copyrights for these articles are owned by the Hellenic News of America. They may not be redistributed without the permission of the owner. The opinions expressed by our authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Hellenic News of America and its representatives.

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