Topic: News

Buyng Property in Athens

Buying Property in Athens – things to know about investing in the capital

Low property prices, a metropolitan lifestyle and a launching pad to the Greek islands makes Athens an appealing option for property buyers, but careful planning and research is required.

Buying property in Athens has never been more enticing.

It’s a city blessed by the gods with its crystal blue coastline, magical sunsets and mountainous landscape. But before you sign on the dotted line in a post-holiday haze, it helps to do some homework.

Greece has traditionally been a nation of land or home owners who proudly passed on the property deeds to the next generation through death or marriage. But as the realities of the Greek economic crisis set in, high unemployment and the collapse of the real estate market quickly followed, leaving many to inherit debts and taxes they couldn’t service and properties they couldn’t maintain.

With low residential prices and high yielding short-term rental income, investment from overseas buyers has surged in recent years, allowing many to realise their dream of owning a summer holiday house in Greece and indeed, Europe.

The five year residency visa via Greece’s Golden Visa programme has also helped push things along. Enterprise Greece estimates one billion euros have been invested in the overall real estate market in Greece, since the programme began in 2013. Buyers however should proceed with caution as the Greek economy is still in recovery and investing in real estate is not without risk.

Why Athens and why now?

Athens offers an easy lifestyle against the backdrop of a buzzing and dynamic city that is steeped in history and legacy. The harsh economic climate has seen some positive change and exciting developments in food, art and culture, providing a much more rounded urban experience and making it one of the most exciting cities in Europe right now.

The sea and its southern coastline of Blue-Flag beaches are easily reached from the centre, as are the many hills you can climb to admire its beautiful landscape from above.

Central Athens is built around the Acropolis.

Peering through a wider lens, things are looking up for Athens, with increased flights, strengthening tourism numbers and new hotel and residential developments, you simply can’t help but be optimistic. The newly built Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center has been the most ambitious cultural and architectural project to date. The €617 million development by the prominent Greek shipping family was the largest donation made to the city so far.

Many central suburbs are in the midst of a reboot too, as gentrification takes hold in various pockets around town. The southern coastal districts from Piraeus to Vouliagmeni will get a boost thanks to recent plans to transform the major shipping and passenger terminal of the Port of Piraeus and its surrounding area. Plans are also in place to finally resurrect the former Athens airport near Glyfada, into a modern hub of residences, retail and leisure facilities.

The urban sprawl of Athens

Be prepared and do your homework

It goes without saying that you should find a reputable team of professionals to guide you through the purchasing process. You’ll need a lawyer to protect your rights and represent you in contract negotiations and a notary when you are in the final stages of closing and transferring the property.

When purchasing existing property, it’s also wise to have an engineer conduct an inspection to make sure your property is structurally sound and complies with relevant laws and regulations.

Non-EU residents must demonstrate their connections with Greece and their intent for property use. This application is made to the Ministry of National Defence and involves a submission of documents. EU residents will have almost no restrictions in purchasing a property in Greece.

Fees

There are a number of additional and up-front fees to consider and some of the standard ones include:

  • A property tax transfer set at 3 per cent* is paid for by the buyer. You will need to get a Greek tax file number (equivalent to a social security number), which you can obtain by filling out various tax forms (*note this transfer tax is subject to change at any time and you should consult your lawyer for the latest percentage).
  • Real estate agency or agent fees are usually between 2-2.5 per cent of the sale price and you should be aware that Greek real estate agents often represent both the buyer and seller. Many transactions in Greece happen privately to avoid these costs and property owners can advertise and represent themselves.
  • Notary and lawyer fees could either be a set cost but no more than 1 per cent each of the total transaction value (plus 24 per cent VAT on the fee).
  • Look out for exchange rates when paying for your property, which will vary from bank to bank.

Note – This is not an exhaustive list and depends on what consultants and advisors you decide to retain. Government charges may also change from time to time.

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An expert’s perspective

Property consultant, George Sagirakis from First National has assisted many overseas buyers through the myriad of paperwork and overcoming language barriers to purchasing real estate in Athens and all around Greece. We reached out to George to get her insights and experience on buying property in Athens.

George, as a property consultant, how can you assist overseas buyers in the purchasing process?

We usually come in when the client needs help to find a property or has decided on buying a property or has narrowed down options of properties they are interested in.

We all know that buying a home is going to be one of the biggest purchases we are ever going to make. However, this doesn’t mean that you should simply throw good money away on an emotional whim. We live in the Information Age and the key to buying a home is gathering as much information as possible in order to pitch your offer at the correct level and to ensure that you don’t buy somebody else’s problem

The next important step potential buyers must keep in mind, is to make sure that the property they are buying is lawful.

When selling Greek land or buildings, all owners are required to provide a Legal Technical Certificate which is proof that the property is lawful. This is where we step in on behalf of my clients. We will conduct a legal check to verify if all built structures comply with lawful building permits. An example of an illegal structure could be an enclosed veranda that was built without a permit. If illegal structures are identified, this should not be considered as a deal breaker. Before the purchase is completed, the seller can legalize their property by paying an applicable fine, after appointing an architect-engineer to handle the process.

Where do people commonly find properties advertised for sale in Athens?

The most common methods are through real estate agents and less often privately. Walk-by signage is also effective especially if you have the time to explore areas. I always suggest clients walk or drive around neighbourhoods they are interested in during the day and also in the evening.

Athens, a city of rooftop living.

What is a realistic time frame for someone from overseas coming to Athens to buy a place from scratch. Do they need to be physically present the entire time?

The time needed to negotiate the purchase deal and conclude the actual property transfer differs for every transaction. Foreigners do not have to be physically present in Greece for the final closing, appointing a Power of Attorney is equally efficient.

What are the general steps to securing a property?

To secure the purchase, a down-payment of up to 10 per cent (depending on the property value) is usually deposited by the buyer but is not mandatory. Once negotiations have been concluded, the owner gathers all tax, legal and technical documents that are required. Once the purchase-transfer tax is paid for by the buyer, the purchase is ready to go. Keep in mind, once the purchase-contract deed has been signed, it must be registered with the relevant Hellenic Cadastre and/or the Mortgage Registry depending on the location of the property. Only then, does the buyer obtain full ownership rights.

Can you explain how apartment buildings are maintained through strata schemes or owners groups?

Apartment buildings are made up of separately owned units, often referred to as condominiums by many foreigners. Within the apartment building, there are also common use areas, jointly owned by all owners. Each owner of an apartment owns a certain percentage according to the Deeds of Establishment of the building and transferred upon purchase. Maintenance, amenities and utilities of these areas are paid for collectively by owners (or renters) depending on the ownership entitlements of each unit. Common use funds are handled by one of the owners, referred to as the “Diaxiristi” or an appointed management company in many cases. Decisions on how funds are distributed and used are made in the owners general assembly meetings. A common issue in many older apartment buildings in Athens, is central heating, which is usually not connected due to the high running costs. Owners will usually need to arrange for their own independent heating system in compliance with the Deeds of Establishment.

Uncovering details inside some of Athens’ grand apartment buildings.

What things are there to be aware of if an apartment or property needs renovating?

Besides the actual hard cost of materials, there is of course worker’s wages and contractor fees. It’s a good idea to have a contingency budget in place too. When redesigning and upgrading older apartments, there are often hidden costs which only present themselves once renovation has started, especially if existing walls are being knocked down. The good news is that property owners no longer have to obtain a permit for minor repairs or upgrades. In some cases when an apartment is located in a building of historical heritage, the process can become more complicated and restrictive. This is one more reason why it’s a good idea for buyers to consider appointing an architect-engineer before purchasing property, as they can potentially help quantify in advance, the cost and time involved to renovate a place.

Monemvasia, Castle, Peloponisos, Greece, Waterfront, Heritage

How does the buying process in Greece differ from the rest of the world?

Buying property in Greece can be a different experience for foreigners compared to what they are used to back home where it is more common to work directly and solely through real estate agents. In most cases, buyers will work directly with local agents who have signed an agreement with the sellers to showcase the property and not agent to agent. Once you have found a place you love, your agent, attorney or you as the buyer can negotiate the final price. The entire procedure of the closing thereafter is usually handled by your attorney, who will often speak directly with the sellers and/or their attorney.

For people who may be wanting to purchase a property with the view of holiday renting, what are some of the things they should be aware of?

One important factor owners must have in mind is that short-term or holiday rental income must be declared as if one were renting to a long-term tenant. Many property owners have tried to avoid and hide this income, which is why the government is planning to introduce an electronic platform for short-term rentals. Owners must now declare the property, names of renters and the duration of the lease on this platform. Those that do not comply will face heavy fines.

George Sagirakis was born and raised in Greece. He moved to Australia where he lived and worked in the retail and construction industry for over 22 years. He is now based in Athens and is a licensed Realtor. His second office is in Limassol, Cyprus.

He provides consulting services for real estate and renovations matters in Greece and Cyprus. His property management services are handled by registered Attorneys and/or Accountants.

George is experienced in Real Estate marketing, buying/selling/rending properties, designing, constructing and renovating residential and commercial property, as well as assisting with all property-related matters such as obtaining certificates and permits. You can contact George directly via his website: www.firstnational.gr or www.firstnational.com.cy

DISCLAIMER: The information provided is general and should therefore NOT be considered as advice or consultation to act upon. Links to third-party websites do not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of products and services.

George Sagirakis

ENTERPRICE GREECE

https://www.enterprisegreece.gov.gr/en/greece-today/living-in-greece/residence-permits#top


Types of driveway materials

8 Dec 2017 

First and foremost, the driveway needs to withstand the load of vehicles and provide easy access between the road and where the vehicle is stored. A driveway that will give way to the pressure of traffic can damage the property and car, and lead to increased maintenance costs; a driveway that makes it difficult to enter and exit the property can prove a daily hassle.

In addition to providing practical benefits, a driveway must be attractive to preserve the look and value of the property. After all, it does occupy a large portion of the property’s frontage and plays a large role in forming people’s impression of the house.

When considering the costs of installing a new driveway always factor in the ongoing maintenance costs. Some driveway materials are expensive to install, but require little by way of maintenance; others need ongoing maintenance to keep them looking their best.

Below you’ll find articles on the materials most commonly used for driveways

 

Concrete driveways

 

A concrete driveway

What is a concrete driveway?

A concrete driveway is made of aggregate (stones and gravel) bonded together by cement. The aggregate used can vary in size and appearance.

Concrete does have a bit of reputation of being drab, but its appearance can be livened up with the addition of coloured stones, concrete paint, or the application of stencils to create the appearance of pavers.

What’s the best use?

Concrete driveways are suitable for a wide range of applications, as the surface can be adapted for practical (i.e. different finishes for grip) and aesthetic needs (concrete can be finished in a number of colours or engraved).

What maintenance is required?

With a high quality installation, concrete needs very little maintenance. Ensure spills of oil, grease or petrol are removed as soon as possible to prevent stains forming and reseal the concrete every two years and your drive should look good for at least a decade, if not longer.

 

What are the minimum and maximum grades?

To ensure water drains, concrete driveways should have a fall of at least one percent away from the house and towards the street.

The grade should not exceed 1:4 within the property boundary. Note that in some areas, there are restrictions on how steep a driveway can be; be sure to check with your local council about these limitations.

Do concrete driveways need steel reinforcing?

Concrete driveways can be constructed without steel reinforcing, as it does not increase or decrease the load capacity – it merely prevents cracks widening should they occur.

How is it installed?

For non-reinforced concrete and standard passenger cars, concrete needs to be 100mm thick. For heavier vehicles, the required thickness increases to 130mm.

Installation of a concrete driveway will usually proceed as follows:

  • Choose a cool, overcast day to pour your driveway – don’t proceed if there’s a chance of rain or frost. Very hot days should also be avoided.
  • Excavate 200-300mm
  • Create a base with hardcore of at least 150mm
  • Cover with fine gravel and level it off
  • Ensure good compaction with a vibrating plate or roller
  • Install timber forms along the sides of the drive, with stakes at regular intervals and and at every join between timber forms
  • Check the elevation to ensure uniform slab height
  • Lay the concrete
  • Insert shrinkage joints at least every 5-6m to avoiding cracks forming. You can also cut control joints. These will need to be done with 24 hours of pouring – sooner if the weather is hot.
  • Keep vehicles off your drive for at least seven days. If the weather is quite cool, extend this by another 5 days.

What will a concrete driveway cost?

Factors that will alter the cost of your concrete driveway include:

  • Size – the length and width
  • The slope – the price increases as the slope does
  • The appearance – plain concrete is cheapest. Add in colour, exposed aggregate or stencilling and the price will increase.

To ensure you get an accurate quote from your concreter or can put together an accurate budget, make sure you know all of the above items.

Many concreting companies have quote calculators on their website, making it quick and easy to get a quote.

Advantages and disadvantages of concrete driveways

Advantages
  • Durable
  • Cost-effective
  • Low maintenance
Disadvantages
  • Can be unattractive
  • Requires a large amount of prep work

 

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How to hire a bathroom designer

 

Nowhere in a home is good design more important than it is in the bathroom. Not only for the sake of wowing visitors with beautiful tile patterns and frameless glass, but also (and arguably more importantly) for safety, and to ensure that it stands up to the abuse it’s likely to endure on a daily basis.

This is a room where floors and walls are likely to get soaked with water on a very regular basis (especially if you’ve got kids). Steam’s likely to penetrate every available nook, mould’s always a potential problem and proper lighting, ventilation, plumbing and electrics are all crucial no matter where you live.

For better or worse, in most cases bathrooms also have a very significant impact on the resale value of a house too. Installing a sexy bathroom’s as much about improving the value of your house as it is about durability and safety.

 

Why should I hire a bathroom designer?

To be very clear, you don’t need to hire a professionally qualified bathroom designer to plan your bathroom. Good bathroom design’s a seriously complicated affair though. Hiring a properly trained bathroom designer’s a great way to ensure that you’re getting a stunning, expertly finished bathroom, and that every practical issue has been completely considered and accounted for.

In many circumstances, forking out more for a bathroom designer will pay for itself in terms of the value it adds to your home, and (possibly) to eliminating the need for additional alterations further down the track.

 

What do bathroom designers do?

A bathroom designer’s job is to work with you throughout the process to ensure that what you need (and want) from your bathroom is clearly established.

The designer will assess your tastes and requirements, your budget and what that will allow, what kinds of space you have available and various other practical issues. From there, the designer will put together a design that meets your needs, and reflects his or her own creative vision.

Some designers may also be able to help project manage your bathroom build for you too – and even recommend a team of trusted contractors or arrange special deals with suppliers.

Many (if not most) bathroom designers start their careers in related fields like plumbing, tiling and interior design. For that reason bathroom designers usually have a very good practical appreciation for the building process. Likewise, many have also undergone formal training and have gone on to become Certified Bathroom Designers.

What makes a ‘good’ bathroom design?

A really well put together bathroom is one that balances a long list of important practical considerations against aesthetic choices. Below are just a few of the things that need to be fully considered:

  • cohesive visual style or theme
  • layout and accessibility
  • safety and slip prevention
  • material and product choices
  • ergonomics
  • waterproofing
  • appropriate lighting
  • plumbing and electrical requirements and limitations
  • adaptability for special needs (perhaps in the future)
  • privacy
  • energy and water efficiency
  • the practicality of the design to be executed by trades people and other specialists

 

What qualifications should bathroom designers have?

There’s no legal requirement saying that people need a formal qualification to call themselves ‘bathroom designers’. Having said that, if you’re paying for someone to design your bathroom, it’s wise to make sure they have all the right skills and experience.

Certified Bathroom Designers need to keep up with changes in trends, regulations and with new developments in terms of materials and technologies in order to maintain their certifications.

Where can I find a bathroom designer?

In many cases, companies that offer bathroom renovations will have in-house bathroom designers. Likewise, many suppliers (tile and bathroom plumbing suppliers, for example) engage interior specialists to help with the selection of products, which can be very helpful if you’re researching a particular style or application.

Many bathroom designers work independently too, and can be contacted either directly, through trade or design directories.

How to choose the right bathroom designer

There’s no hard and fast rule about what makes one designer better than another – and for the most part it’ll come down to:

  • what you think of the designer’s previous work
  • how well you and the designer communicate, and
  • the extent to which you believe the designer will create something you like

Remember that the design process is as much about the designer’s creative vision as it is your own preferences and requirements. If you’ve got your heart set on a particular look, style, material or colour, it’s up to you to properly communicate this and set a realistic budget for your dream.

 

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