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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


The Zagori Experience in Northern Greece

The Rugged Rush of the Zagori

by Maria Paravantes.

Nestled in the northern Pindus mountain range amid rugged cliffs, rushing waters, lush forests and breath-taking alpine lakes are the tiny stone villages of the Zagori, known as the Zagorochoria. These remote little gems dot the slopes of the Pindus and in their embrace the visitor discovers the secrets of centuries literally carved in stone and carried on through local traditions and hospitality.

Dilofo Village square

The ‘mesohori’ or central village square in Dilofo with the ubiquitous plane tree at its heart.

Located in the Epirus region, northwestern Greece, a long winding road connects the 46 Zagorochoria, which offer their guests an unforgettable travel experience: everything from extreme sports like rafting, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking and trekking to horseback riding, mountain climbing and sampling culinary delights of the region.

The snaking ride up to the villages begins from the capital of the region, Ioannina, with Mount Mitsikeli (1,810m) to its southwest, the Aoos River and Mount Tymfi (with Gamila as its highest peak) to the north and the Varda River and Mount Mavrovouni (2,100m) near Metsovo to the southeast.

The 46 villages serve as mini-museums of the region’s traditional architecture mostly dating back to the 18th century. High-ceilinged stone and wood mansions stand on cobbled roads leading to the “mesohori” or “plateia” (central square), which also hosts the village church, the central springs and the ubiquitous “platanos” (or plane tree) under which all of life’s great events take place.

Besides its local cuisine and natural beauty, the Zagorochoria, and the Epirus region in general is also known for its music. Much like its people, who are rugged and reserved, so is the music with a slow slithering rhythm led by a mournful clarinet solo. To enjoy all three aspects of the Zagori experience – nature, food and culture – visit the villages in the summer during the annual “panegyria” – open-air festivals where locals indulge in good food and wine while singing and dancing under the plane tree in the central squares.

Take a walk on the wild side

One of the most rewarding experiences when visiting the Zagori is the trek through the Vikos Gorge via marked footpaths. With an altitude of 1,778 meters, the gorge is located southwest of Gamila and is known for its unique ecosystem which is home to a number of endangered species. Considered to be one of the deepest ravines in world, reaching some 1,000m in depth, it takes approximately six hours to complete the 20km trek that begins from the stone bridge Paliogefyra between the villages of Monodendri and Koukouli, and ends near Vikos. A number of streams and rivers flow along the gorge down into the Voidomatis River.

For those not so keen on a six-hour walk, the best views of the gorge are from the road to Megalo Papigo, from the Monastery of Agia Paraskevi in Monodendri and from Beloi.

Dragon’s den

Near Mount Smolikas and Mount Tymfi lie the Zagori’s best kept secret: the “drakolimni” (or Dragon Lake): two alpine lakes, the highest at an altitude of 2,050m mirroring the sky and the clouds in which dragons sleep. The dragon, in local lore, is said to represent freedom and emerges when enemies approach its territory. The drakolimni is a five-hour hike uphill from Papigo. Photo by: www.konitsa.gr, The Zagori’s best kept secret: the “drakolimni”

Like a bridge over troubled waters

The narrow single- or three-arched bridges of the Zagori primarily made of limestone, are mostly in and around the village of Kipi. Today abandoned, they stand as reminders of their central role in the days of old when they served as trade routes for mule caravans in difficult weather conditions. Each bridge retains the name of its donor.

The stone bridges of Kokkoris between Dilofo, Kipi and Koukouli, Kontodimos (in the Mikros Vikos ravine), the 1814 Plakidas or Kalogeriko between Kipi and Koukouli, Klidonia (aka Voidomatis) in Klidonia at the end of the Vikos trek and Milos (near Kipi) are only a few of the bridges adorning the Epirot landscape.

From village to village with a herb in hand

From the 17th to the 19th century, “kombogiannites” also known as “vikogiatroi” would ride from one village to the next to heal the sick with their wondrous herbs. Self-taught shamen mostly from Kapesovo, Monodendri and Papigo, they belonged to a brotherhood of sorts and would pass on the tricks of the trade to their children. Their arrival to the villages was marked by ringing bells and joyful music.

The Food

 knife__fork_and_spoonIf there’s one thing you’ll want to do after a long trek, rafting or sightseeing, it will be sitting in one of the many local taverns/coffee shops, which serve up the finest comfort foods. From the simple but hearty omelets to the meats and sausages, settle down by the fireplace and watch the meats grill as you sip local red wine. Cheeks are bound to rosy up. The region is mainly known for its famous “pittes” (leek, greens, cheese, pumpkin pies made particularly thin) and its tsipouro, a distilled pomace-based spirit containing 40-45% alcohol.

“I Pitta tis Kikitsas” in Monodendri“I Pitta tis Kikitsas” in Monodendri has since 1958 served up Kiki’s crispiest traditional flour pie (alevropitta). Kiki passed the secret on to her daughter who runs the restaurant today and also offers delicious greens pies, grilled pork chops, tender liver and red wine.
Ano Pedina Monopatia Resort Restaurant (Photo by www.monopatiaresort.gr)In Ano Pedina, Vassilis Paparounas, known for his kitchen magic in several top-notch Athens venues, operates “Monopatia”, where local products – Paparounas’ personal favorites are the unique-to-the region mushrooms – playfully fuse with tradition to create a delight for the palate.
Margarites Restaurant in Kipoi, ZagoriFurther on, housed in a traditional stone dwelling, “Margarites” in Kipi serves up some of the Zagori’s favorite traditional dishes, including delightful sweets. Don’t forget to try “batsaria” – a fragrant pie made of corn meal, local greens and herbs, and milk or yogurt.
kanela and Garyfallo Restaurant in Vitsa, ZagoriAnother foodie stop about 1.5km before Mondendri in the village of Vitsa is “Kanela kai Garyfallo”, which also specializes in creative mushroom-based dishes and offers an excellent wine list.

 Epilogue

There’s no doubt about it: You can’t get enough of the Zagori in just one go. The tourist experience in Greece is layered. Like most of Greece’s destinations, it has something new to offer every time you visit, with a new layer emerging to reveal something different. So too is the Zagori.

So for the Zagorochoria experience Part 1, take a tour of the villages of Monodendri, the most touristy of the lot at 1,060 meters overlooking the Vikos Gorge with a view to Astraka and Gamila. The 14th-century villages of Megalo and Mikro Papingo (4km from each other) nestled at 980m below the compelling Astraka towers. One of Mt. Tymfi’s highest peaks is Gamila at 2,436 meters, to its north stand the famous twin tower-like cliffs of Astraka which overlook the tiny village of Mikro Papigo.

Between the two settlements of Papigo flows the Rogovo stream. Erosion has created remarkable water-filled hollows known as the “ovires”. In the summer, visitors take a refreshing swim in their waters. And, finally, don’t forget to visit Tsepelovo at 1050m, and take the uphill path towards the Zagori’s highest village, Vradeto at 1,450m.

✓ On the road again… Set off from Athens to Ioannina, approximately a six-hour drive.
✓ Settle down… in one of the luxury resorts or boutique hotels in Aristi, Megalo Papigo, Mikro Papingo.
✓ Indulge in… locally made “pittes” (or pies) and tsipouro.
✓ Don’t forget to buy… spoon sweets, tsipouro, red wine and herbs.
✓ Truth or dare… The Vikos Gorge experience is like no other. Start at daybreak; bring water, chocolate and nuts.

Featured Hotels in Zagorohoria

 

Apeiros Chora Hotel

Apeiros Chora Hotel

“Apeiros Chora” hotel is located in Kato Pedina, a Zagori village, within half an hour drive from Ioannina, Epirus capital, in Northern Greece. The property is a fully renovated 200 years old family stone mansion with authentic interior finishes and details combined in a rich and colorful rendition of the past, all mixed with a modern elegance. From property’s rooms and surrounding courtyards and terraces, you can enjoy a cool view of the nearby mountains and the village’s protected valley.

Posted On 06 Apr 2015
Archontiko Tis Aristis Hotel

Archontiko Tis Aristis Hotel

In the most central of these residential enclaves, in Aristi, gifted with a privileged view to the canyon of Vikos and the mountains of Astraka, Archontiko Tis Aristis Hotel is one of the most representative traditional hotels of the Zagori area, the mansion of Aristi. The hotel is located in a distinctive way to the aesthetic impositions of the past, opening passages for a more refined and hospitable habitation to the present, adapted to a more timely and timeless version.

Posted On 24 Mar 2015
Machalas Hotel, Kipi, Tselepovo, Zagori, Greece

Machalas Hotel

Machalas (“Small Neigh-borhood”), unique in Central Zagori, is a complex built in 2005, predominantly with wood and hand-hewn stone, in the difficult craft of dry stonework and in keeping with the architectural tradition of Zagori. It comprises eleven independent apartments (eight single-spaced of 40m2, two 40m2 suites and one double spaced suite of 60m2), which can accommodate up to four people.

Posted On 24 Mar 2015
Monopatia Mountain Resort

Monopatia Mountain Resort

Tranquillity reigns at MONOPATIA creating a delightful and relaxed atmosphere. The landscape changes constantly according to the time of day, the season, the weather. The beauty of the natural environment outside is reflected in the earthy hues of the interior architecture. Each space has its own individual character while attention to detail accompanies understated luxury throughout.

Posted On 02 Dec 2014
Aristi Mountain Resort

Aristi Mountain Resort, Aristi

Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas, a proud member of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World” is built at the upper part of Aristi, one of the most beautiful traditional villages of Aristi and in Greece, ‘Aristi Mountain Resort & Villas’ is not just a hotel, but a refuge for those seeking beauty in nature. A starting point for hikers and anyone who wants to visit the enchanting Zagorochoria villages and a place for those wishing to experience nature at its best while having top quality facilities available to them.

Posted On 02 Dec 2014
Greek Travel Pages list of all hotels in Zagoria

Zagori Outdoor Activity Organizers

 

Compass Adventures Zagori

A company created from local mountain and trekking guides who live and work in the area of Zagori. We are based in Zagori region, at the North Pindos Mountains. This is the area where Pindos mountain range stretches from the north to the south covering a distance of 230km! This…

Posted On 02 Apr 2015
Trekking Hellas Epirus, Greece

Trekking Hellas in Epirus

The most scenic green mountainous region of the country. Magnificent 20Km long Vikos gorge and the spectacular Pindos mountains, in addition to traditional and authentic stone villages are an ideal location for nature enthusiasts. Ideal for: Trekking, multisport and cultural…

Posted On 24 Mar 2015
Alpine Zone outdoor activities

Alpine Zone in Epirus

All the activities of the Alpine Zone take place at the tablelandof Ioannina, the National Park of Vikos – Aoos, the massif of Tymfi, Zagori villages, the National Park of Valia Kalda, Vasilitsa, the massif of Smolikas, the Athamanika Mt. Come to meet the enchanting region of…

Posted On 24 Mar 2015

The Vikos Gorge: A Trekking Paradise