Buying Land in Greece can hide many pitfalls which may turn the purchase into a nightmare, learn how to avoid problems.
Greece is an attractive choice for foreigners who are interested in buying land abroad. However in Greece there are some restrictions for foreigners who intend to buy property – such as in areas classified as “border areas”, for reasons of national security. Only Greek nationals or people descended from Greek nationals or – in some cases EU citizens – can acquire land located at “border areas”.
With the exception of “border areas” nationals of non-EU countries can benefit from the Golden Visa as long as the minimum amount of their real estate investment is €250,000 which allows them to acquire a renewable five-year residence permit, which extends to their family (parents and children). Moreover after 7 years of residence, these buyers can also acquire a Greek passport.
Potential issues when buying Land in Greece
Obtaining independent legal advice will help a buyer of land in Greece to avoid the following potential problems:
- Does the seller possess a valid ownership title? According to Greek law land may legally pass from one individual to another only by way of a notarial deed and not with private agreements or even a verbal agreement. It is still common to find land-owners in Greece who acquired land by virtue of adverse possession.
- Has the ownership title been properly registered? The notarial deed of the owner should be registered at the Greek Land Registry (Ypothikofilakio) and at the Cadastre Registry for the region, if there is one. Please note that in Greece there is not a National Cadastre for all regions, but most of them are under local cadastre registries. So, in these cases, the buyer will need to take more actions after the completion of the conveyance, specifically before the Cadastre Registry.
- Verification that there are no legal flaws in the property title It could be that the existence of such legal flaws will not reduce the buyer’s interest in buying the land (e.g. the right of the neighbour to pass to and from the land without needing the consent of the owner), but it may affect its price.
- Verification that there are no burdens/ lawsuits and seizures registered (e.g. burdens from a bank to which the seller owes money or a caveat lodged over the property by a third party who claims to have ownership over the land for sale -i.e. ex-spouse).
- Consideration of issues with tenants Often land for sale can be subject to existing tenancies. If this is the case with the land that you are thinking of buying, you should ensure that a thorough review of the terms and conditions of the lease agreement is carried-out since its conditions may affect the price of the land and the expenses of the potential buyer. For example legal costs will arise in case there is a need for termination of the lease agreement and the services of a bailiff is required. Greater risks may be envisaged in case of mistrustful tenants.
- Review of the topographic plan of the land The topographic plan of the land should be up-to-date and appropriately signed and stamped by a topographic-construction engineer. The stamp of the engineer shall also contain a declaration verifying that the land is within town planning zone and containing the plot’s building terms.
- Review documentation for restrictions on right to build on the land The buyer’s lawyer should determine if there are any objections from relevant Archeology Authorities about the (i.e. Ancient Authority and/or Modern Monuments Authority), by local Forest Authority, by Local municipality, by Agricultural Authorities and by Military Authorities. In case there are any objections (i.e. that the land is a forest or it is a high productivity land etc) the land won’t be buildable and in some cases not useable at all (i.e. for agricultural reasons).
Buying Land in Greece key checkpoint: the buyer’s lawyer should also check the notarial agreement, as under Greek Law, public notaries have no fiduciary responsibility regarding the context surrounding the notarial deed that the parties sign. Also, the parties are fully responsible about the facts included in the notarial deeds.
Therefore, a buyer’s lawyer should check that the notarial deed describes fully and precisely the property that the buyer buys. At the end, the buyer’s lawyer will be responsible for registering the property at the Greek Land Registry (Ypothikofilakio) and/or at the Land Registry Cadastre.
See also our guide for buying property in Greece.