Before acquiring property in Greece, it is crucial to check the permitted uses; that is to say, the limited purposes for which the property may legally be used.
It is not uncommon for buyers to be interested in properties advertised as residences only to later find out that those properties could be only used as business premises/retail units and vice versa. Rarely is the permitted use discussed in the initial conversations with the estate agents or sellers, and the buyers invest significant time and funds in the preliminary checks which could have be avoided. Even worse, some end-up buying a property that cannot be used for the purpose they originally had in mind. The buyers could potentially modify the use of the property after the completion of the purchase, but this is not always the case.
Greek Property Law will protect many aspects of property and its uses in Green-belt landmarks, as seen across many countries. Failing to correctly match the boundaries between your project and the land it is to be developed is a door to disaster.
This is even more important when the buyer wishes to purchase property that it is located outside the urban plan with the intention to build a house. It is very important that the permitted use of the land is checked thoroughly before proceeding any further. An application should be submitted to the local authority with the relevant documents in order for a certificate to be issued stipulating how the new owner may use the land and if a construction of a residence is permitted, the number of sq. meters that may be built etc. This step makes even more sense when there is no existing construction license (which is most often the case).
Finally, it is always a good idea - at an early stage in the process - to request details from the current owner relating to any alterations made to the property (applicable where there is a building) that have altered the initial floor plans as originally submitted to the urban authority for the approval of the construction license.
In this way it can be determined whether there have been any “arbitrary constructions”. If the previous owner has made any arbitrary constructions, an engineer can check whether such alterations may be construed as conforming to the applicable law; an important issue since if the arbitrary constructions cannot be legalised, this could require the alteration of the property to return it to the legal state and, consequently, make the purchase uneconomical or at least, undesirable.
An independent legal expert in Greek Property Law will be able to guide you with appropriate advice on whether you should proceed with the purchase or not.