There’s lots about investing in real estate in Athens that’s the same as investing back home, wherever that is. But there’s some things you need to know to help you on your way.
Greeks don’t use real estate agents
Well, that’s not totally true, but the number of For Sale By Owner (FSBO) properties in Greece seems to be higher than any other country we’ve worked. In fact we always have to tell sellers that we’re not agents and we don’t charge any fees, because that’s what sellers expect when someone calls them up looking to buy their property.
Of course there are agents in Greece. You can find them on the big real estate portals. But, think about this, why negotiate with the monkey when you can chat with the organ grinder? In reality they’re the only one who can say yes or no to your creative deal or crazy low cash offer.
Prices are by the square metre
In the UK bizarrely properties are always marketed and priced more on the number of bedrooms than the actual size. It makes no sense but that’s the way it is. In Greece like many other countries, properties are more about the price per square metre. Sure there are always factors like, near the beach, downtown, penthouse, ground floor, away from main streets etc, but overall it’s possible to have an idea of price per square metre.
If you’re wondering what the price per sqm is in Athens and how that compares to other capital cities in the EU take a look at this chart. London comes out top at €11,800+ and Athens is right down in fifth place at €1470 per sqm ahead of the Baltic nations. In our experience it’s possible to find bargains at less than €1000 per sqm in Athens, whilst Lisbon on that list is at €2500 the reality there is closer to €3500. But it gives you an idea of where Athens is in the EU, and then where it is in the property cycle right now.
You’ll need a tax number to do anything
Every person or company that buys a property in Greece must have a tax ID number first. That doesn’t mean you immediately have to start paying tax, it’s just that in a country famous for crossing the street when the taxman comes around, the Government has wisely introduced a rigid system for getting to grips with who owns what. The tax number called an AFM (ah-fee-mee in Greek) is free but you’ll want to save yourself many days in a queue with grumpy state employees pretending they don’t speak English and get a lawyer to do it for you. It’s not expensive and it’ll save you a lot of grief.
Your lawyer can sign contracts for you
Unlike the UK and probably the US as well, where lawyers are so obsessed with being sued that they will only ever do the minimum for you, in Greece like a lot of southern Europe it’s normal to give your lawyer a power of attorney (PoA) to carry out certain tasks for you, including signing a real estate contract. Now, I’ve had lawyers do this for me in the UK but not since the GFC, none of them want the responsibility. But that’s the good news about buying in Athens. You don’t have to be here all the time and that’s good because legal process and paperwork here take a long time. But, before you ask, yes you do need to be here in front of your lawyer and the notary (more on these guys later) in person to swear the PoA and sign in the big book. But once that’s done you can technically be an armchair investor from your comfortably home. But, then you’d be missing out on all those Greek Salads.