Buying a Property in Greece
WHY YOU NEED A LAWYER
The presence of a lawyer is considered determinative for the purchase of real estate in Greece. The lawyer can make the following necessary acts for the client:
- Issues a Tax Registration Number for the client from the competent Tax office. The Tax Registration Number is unique for each person and is a necessary condition for the purchase of real estate as it is the tax identification of the buyer.
- Makes a control of the deeds of the seller in the competent Land Registry/ Cadastral Office. The legal order and correctness of the deeds of ownership and also the presence of mortgages, claims, sequestrations and rentals are being controlled. This legal control concerns not only the seller but also all the previous owners of the real estate and covers the time until the first registration of the deeds of ownership of the previous owners in the Land Registry office.
- Beside the legal control based to the new laws in Greece, a civil engineer has to perform a technical control of the property and issue a certificate that the construction is realized according to the official plans of the building permission. In case the property is a plot, the civil engineer issues a certificate that there are no buildings constructed in the plot yet. This technical control is very important for the security of the buyer and the relevant certificates are attached to the purchase contract.
- In collaboration with the notary the lawyer composes the official purchase / sale contract and is present with the client during its signature. Afterwards, the lawyer deposits the copy of the purchase contract in the Land Registry/Cadastral Office for its registration.
APPOINTING A LAWYER
The appointment of a lawyer is done through a notarial document, that is called power of attorney. With this document the lawyer can represent the buyer in the whole purchase procedure and make any necessary act on his/her behalf (for example open a Greek bank account, issue a Tax Registration Number, pay the price and sign the purchase contract).
This power of attorney, if the buyer is in Greece, is composed in Greek language before a Greek notary, with the presence of a translator. In the case the buyer is not in Greece, there are the following options:
- Composition of the power of attorney in Greek language in a Greek Consulate of the country of the buyer, with the assistance of a translator. This document has immediate legal power in Greece
- Composition of the power of attorney before a notary of his country in his language. This document has not yet legal power in Greece. There should be first put on the last page by the competent authorities of his country the APOSTILLE STAMP (according to the contract of Hague of 1961), that will give to the document the legal power to be used in Greece. After getting this stamp, this power of attorney is being translated in Greek language either from the Translation sector of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs or from a Greek lawyer, who knows efficiently the language
OPENING A GREEK BANK ACCOUNT
Each foreign person who wants to purchase real estate in Greece and has no income in Greece, has to transfer the purchase price and the legal expenses for the purchase (taxes, notary’s fees etc) from his/her bank account outside of Greece to a Greek bank account which is opened in his/her name. The year following the purchase, the purchaser with the assistance of an accountant, needs to submit to the Greek Tax Authorities a tax declaration and declare the ownership of the real estate and prove where he/she earned the money for the purchase. For this reason, along with the tax declaration there is submitted a certificate issued from the Greek Bank of the purchaser that proves that the purchase price and the legal expenses were transferred legally from the foreign country into Greece.
For the opening of a Greek bank account it is necessary to provide the bank with a copy of the passport, some personal information (address, place and date of birth, profession etc), a document which proves the permanent residence of the buyer such as an electricity bill, water bill or gas bill. If the buyer already has a Greek Tax Number the relevant certificate from the Greek Tax Authorities. A copy of a recent Tax declaration issued by the Tax Authorities of the home country.
PAYMENT OF A DEPOSIT
After the buyer finds the Real Estate he likes, a deposit is paid to the seller to remove the property from the market. This ensures that the seller is formally bound to complete the deal and the buyer is assured of being able to buy the property at the agreed price. This procedure his handled through the lawyer and with a legally binding document. As the formalities relating to the properties sometimes take time, it makes both parties secure.
REGISTRATION OF THE PURCHASE CONTRACT
A few days after the signing of the purchase contract, the notary prepares an official copy and a summary of it, gives them to the lawyer and the lawyer submits them to the competent Land Registry / Cadastral Office in order to be registered. After the purchase contract is registered, the buyer is considered as the official owner of the property.
SUBMISSION OF TAX DECLARATION
Every buyer, in the year following the purchase of a property, is obliged to submit a tax declaration to the relevant Greek Tax Office and declare the purchase. Annually the owner has to submit a tax declaration even if no money is earned in Greece. Unless this is one’s primary residence and one pays tax in Greece, the buyer has to prove that the money for the purchase was brought into Greece in order to avoid paying taxes and penalties. A certificate from the Greek bank of the buyer, which proves the funds were imported into Greece, must be also submitted along with the Tax Return.
MAKING A WILL ACCORDING TO GREEK LAW
We recommend to our foreign clients who own property in Greece to make a testament (will) according to the procedure of the Greek For foreign persons, the inheritance law of their country applies, but the procedure of accepting the property located in Greece (real estate, balance of bank account, car etc) should be made according to the Greek Inheritance Law Procedure.
If the deceased has made a will in his own country or has no will at all, then the procedure of acceptance of the inheritance of the Greek property is quite complicated for the heirs. The simplest way, to avoid bureaucracy, is to make a will before a Greek notary. There are two types of wills and we would be happy to discuss and advise you which is best suited for your particular needs.
Official translations in Greece, that are accepted by the Public Authorities, can be made
- by the Department of Translations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- by translators who have graduated from the Greek Ionian University for Translators
- by lawyers, who speak the foreign language
Our office realizes official translations from Greek to English, German and Italian and vice versa.