1st June 2015
People from other countries, either foreigners or Greek expatriates, have in the past been buying plots and lands in Greece and will keep purchasing in the future, especially now that prices have dropped so much.
Before you proceed to pay for and buy the plot in Greece which you have chosen, you must know all its characteristics, which determine its value. Such characteristics include the plot’s legal status, (if it is free of any type of legal burden or legal dispute), its dimensions and actual boundaries, as well as the zoning and building regulations, which apply in this particular area and in this particular plot, of this specific size and shape.
To learn and understand the above, a plot buyer in Greece must first retain a lawyer for a thorough title search. The lawyer will get in touch with the seller of the plot, or with his lawyer and with the real estate broker, if one is involved, he will review the deeds, titles and plot plans or survey maps of the plot, he will make a title search on the spot at the local land registry / cadastre, and will advise you on the legal conditions which apply on the particular plot you want to purchase.
In essence, your lawyer should be able to advise you whether to buy that plot or not, although in some cases the lawyer will outline some of the risk factors, which exist regarding the specific plot and will leave the final decision to you. Such factors might refer to a possible uncertainty on the title history of the plot, which may or may not cause property disputes in the future, to the existence of present or past adverse possession claims by the owner of the plot or a neighbour, to a dispute on the boundaries of the plot with a neighbour, to the proper registration of the plot with the local land registry or cadastre, to an update on the property taxes of the plot, to forestry or archaeological restrictions etc.
Apart from a legal advisor, you may also need to retain a civil engineer, who will review the zoning and building regulations of the plot, in order to advise you whether it is allowed to build on the plot or not, how big a structure you can erect and how many stories, if any building or architectural restrictions apply due to local traditional style etc.
The attorney and the civil engineer who will advise you must be of your absolute own choice. It is advisable to avoid working with a lawyer and civil engineer chosen by the developer or seller of the site. It must be very clear that your attorney and your civil engineer work only for you and will outline to you all the existing legal and technical factors of the plot.
In some cases, apart from retaining experts to advise you on the possible purchase of the plot, it may be a good idea to meet with the neighbours, to make sure that there are no misunderstandings on where the boundaries are, especially when no fences or other landmarks exist.
Before signing the purchase deed at the notary’s office, you must have read and understood a good translation in your language of such deed and you must be aware of the basic payment structure. A property buyer in Greece has not become owner of the property before the purchase deed is registered with the local land registry, even if the buyer has paid the agreed amount for the purchase of the property. The notary who drafts along with the lawyers the deed of sale/purchase is usually chosen and paid by the buyer.
Although different rules may apply in specific cases, the usual purchase tax in Greece today, June 2015, is an average of three (3%) percent of the property’s tax value. Such low purchase tax is considered an incentive for property buyers, in order the government to boost sales on a stagnant property market. The yearly property tax that a plot owner may have to pay has recently increased by Greek standards, but remains low compared with what applies in other countries.
*Christos ILIOPOULOS, attorney at the Supreme Court of Greece , LL.M.
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