Top 10 Tips for Buying a Home in Greece

Buying a house anywhere can be a daunting task but particularly so in a country like Greece where laws constantly change and the economy experiences large swings.

Sotheby’s has put together a list of Q and A’s for those interested in getting a place under the Greek sun, providing some basic information on what buyers need to be aware of. 

We have picked the top ten points from the list to help buyers make decisions with more confidence. The full list from Sotheby’s can be seen here

1. Do I need a lawyer/solicitor to buy a property in Greece?

No, not anymore as a legal requirement. However it is highly advisable as solicitors carry out legal due diligence and conduct a property title check going back over 20 years; they ensure the property is free of any mortgage notes, claims, expropriations, rights-of-way, and, in general, any legal encumbrances. In addition, solicitors ensure that all property taxes burdening the vendor have been paid.

2. Do I need a notary to buy a property in Greece?

Yes. A notary public is a government-appointed lawyer who processes and certifies all real estate transactions, including drawing up and reviewing all official documents, to ensure the legal transfer of the property.

3. Do I need an accountant when buying a property in Greece?

Yes. It is essential to hire an accountant early on to help you with tax returns and explain property taxation.

4. Do I need a land surveyor when buying a property in Greece?

Yes. Property Surveyors ensure that all acts associated with the building licensing of the property are based on lawful planning permissions. They are usually outsourced by the appointed Greek Law Firm.

5. Do I need a Tax Registry Number (AFM) in order to buy a property in Greece?

Yes. This tax number (AFM) is mandatory for all property buyers, including foreigners and permanent residents abroad. It is issued on the spot at tax offices, free of charge.

6. What is a property’s Tax Assessed Value?

The Tax Assessed Value is the estimated monetary value of a property according to the Greek tax authorities. As a general rule, a property’s Tax Assessed value is significantly lower than its purchase price. The property’s tax assessed value bears no relation to taxes paid. Transfer taxes are paid on the purchase price.

7. Do I need a Greek bank account?

It is not necessary but it is convenient. All Greek banks have very efficient web banking systems in the English language.

8. Can you walk me through the buying process?

The process is fairly quick and uncomplicated. As a general rule, you must: – Appoint a Greek Lawyer (Your Greek lawyer will outsource the Notary Public and the Surveyor) – Sign a Letter of Intent which outlines the deal in principle and allows sufficient time for the purchase due diligence to take place, usually between 2 to 4 weeks. – Sign the pre-contract detailing terms of sale and payment schedule or the Final Notarial Purchase Contract.

9. How much are closing costs?

Closing costs, including all fees and taxes, are an estimated 10% on top of the purchase price.

10. Do I have to file tax returns in Greece once I’ve become a property owner?

Yes. The Greek state has mandated that all property ownership in Greece must be declared by filling out a form called E9 and submitting it to the Greek Tax Authorities. This is mandatory for every property owner in Greece, even for those who live abroad and have never filed tax returns in Greece or do not have an income in Greece. It will be taken care of by your Greek accountant or your Greek lawyer.

This article was first published here. 

For more Real Estate News & Views on Greece and Europe’s South, head to The Greek Guru.

*Image courtesy of Sotheby’s 

Stay at a Traditional 1850s Summer Home in Leros

In the heart of Leros, you will find a mid-19th Century summer home, which has been beautifully renovated to become one of the most authentic and cozy places to stay at this under-the-radar Dodecanese island. 

If you are looking for a getaway that will enable you to feel like a local, Casa Leros 1850 is the perfect place to stay; just footsteps from the stunning Aegean Sea, this charming home allows guests to capture Greek island life in all its glory. 

IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with owner Dimitris Georgiou, who tells us about what makes the home so unique and he also shares travel tips on the best things to see and do while visiting Leros island. 

Tell us about the renovations you made and how would you describe the look/feel of Casa Leros 1850?

It’s a traditional island home nestled under a tree in the bay of Alinda on the island of Leros. While renovating, we wanted to maintain its initial structure dating back to the 19th Century, characterised by thick stone walls, and petite window sizes, used by locals in the past for best protection against any form of threat from foreign enemies trying to invade the island. The renovations we made have allowed the house to keep its old traditional charm. It’s a place that encourages guests to walk barefoot, feel the summer breeze, and ultimately feel at home. 

It features two bedrooms and two bathrooms. What other main indoor/outdoor spaces are there?

The house also features a fully equipped kitchen, a laundry with a washing machine, and ample outdoor space with a seating area, two dining areas, a hammock, and a garden. 

What makes Casa Leros 1850 such a special place to stay at? 

We think the uniqueness comes from the particular character it exudes. The property highlights traditional Greek island architecture and design. When staying at Casa Leros you instantly feel like a local who is travelling back in time. The house is also privileged to be nestled under a large tree providing great natural shade or light (depending on the time of day), it allows total privacy and is a stone’s throw from the sea (80 meters). It offers a truly relaxing setup for guests while maintaining its local charm. 

Who is your summer home most suitable for? 

Every year we have all sorts of guests stay at Casa Leros. From couples to families, that range from young ages through to older visitors. One thing is for sure – they are all looking for something authentic. An “experience” as opposed to your typical accommodation. And we think that’s what they are getting. 

Tell us about the location of the house, what is close by? 

As mentioned, it’s on the bay of Alinda in Leros, 80 meters from the sea, so it’s ideal for those looking for a spontaneous morning or afternoon swim. It’s also close to several picturesque seafront fish taverns and bars, offering amazing Greek delicacies and carefree evening strolls by the sea. While walking on the bay of Alinda, you also get to enjoy a great view of the Medieval Castle of Leros sitting opposite the bay.

Do you personally greet your guests upon arrival?

We commute back and forth between Leros and Athens. There are times when we greet our guests ourselves, and times when our wonderful partners do. There is always a local point of contact available at all times for whatever our guests might need regarding their stay, the island, or anything else they require.

Is the home available for rent all year round?

Casa Leros is available from March through to November. 

When is the perfect time to visit Leros? 

Leros is an unpretentious island, untouched by mass tourism which helps you see its true colours and character. There is not really a “best month” to visit as it typically comes down to what it is you are looking for. May and June are typically more quiet months, while July through to September tends to get busier. For those seeking a quiet stay away from crowded restaurants and beaches, any period beyond the end of July/August is great. We have guests who come as early as April and others in October, where you can also enjoy a swim in the sea.

What makes Leros unique? 

For those looking for a traditional, authentic island life, Leros should be on the top of your list. Anyone looking for an off-the-beaten-path summer destination, something unpretentious, to get a feel for Greek island life, Leros is your place. If you wish to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, travel back in time, Leros is it.

Can you please share a few of your favourite local eateries? 

Mylos Fish Tavern in Agia Marina, Prima Aneplora in Alinda, El Greco in Panteli, Skipper’s in Lakki, View Restaurant (by the windmills on the way to the castle). For coffee and sweets, I recommend Paradosiako Patisserie in Agia Marina and Lime Beach Bar in Lakki. 

Are there any local dishes/delicacies people should try when visiting Leros?

Anything fish-related as Leros is famous for its top-quality fish. Also taste ‘Patsavouropita,’ it’s a local dessert and it’s delicious. 

Best beaches in Leros?

Agia Kioura, Vromolithos, Dia Liskaria are beautiful. Boat trips to Aspronisia, Lipsi, and Tiganakia are also highly recommended.  

What historical sites are a must-see for first-time visitors to Leros? 

The Medieval Castle of Leros, the War Museum of Leros, plus the Archaeological Museum of Leros. And for those into scuba-diving, you have the opportunity to see a shipwreck from WWII. 

One thing people should not miss when visiting Leros?

Walk or drive up to the Medieval Castle of Leros to witness a 360-degree view of Leros and a breathtaking sunset.

Finally, what do you think is the most memorable experience when staying at Casa Leros?  

The opportunity to live in a house that truly embodies the island’s character. The opportunity to feel like a local. The opportunity to connect with nature while blending in seamlessly with the local environment. The opportunity to live with less; but it feels like more.

Luxurious Handcrafted Candles Made in a Small Corfu Village

Greek brand CHOE was launched a few years ago, in a small village on Corfu, by a couple of talented designers aiming to create natural candles that would delight the senses and insert some luxury into everyday life.

“We use natural materials such as wood, fabric, glass, and bronze, through a series of designs. All of our product lines are hand-poured and handcrafted, furthermore, CHOE’s candles are made only after order,” says owner and creator Helen.Insights Greece - Luxurious Handcrafted Candles Made in a Small Corfu Village

IN+SIGHTS GREECE recently spoke with Helen about their stunning range of candles that are inspired by Ancient Greece and designed to stimulate the senses, and change the mood in any room, while also adding aesthetic beauty to your home.

Tell us a bit about your experience in candle making?

Our training in the industry is mainly based on years of experience with common commercial candles. After countless trials with more exclusive materials (natural oils, essential oils, beeswax, etc) we ended up gaining more specific knowledge on natural fine waxes. On the other hand, our design and handcrafting are mainly based on academic studies and previous work experience in the arts.

What inspires your creations?

CHOE designs are mainly inspired by Ancient Greek culture, with an emphasis on those elements that are preserved in the modern world. Part of our inspiration is also found in Mediterranean nature, our childhood memories, and the scents that remind us of them.

What is the vision behind the brand?

CHOE is an environmentally friendly brand with an emphasis on design and art. We use natural materials and sustainable wax resources while trying to reduce our eco print and waste along the production process. We encourage all who love our products to repurpose and reuse our packaging and empty vessels. This can be done in many creative ways- they can be used as pencil cases, flower vases, decor, jewellery cases- so they continue being loved.

Insights Greece - Luxurious Handcrafted Candles Made in a Small Corfu Village

Tell us about your latest collection. What is your favorite scent in this range?

CHOE’s SS2020 basic collection combines simplicity and minimalistic art forms on fabric. The special Ancient Greek-themed line for this year reflects on the Geometric, Mycenaean, Archaic, Classical, and Hellenistic periods of Ancient Greek Art. Our beloved fragrance selection is inspired by Mediterranean nature, herbs, fruit, and blooms. This year’s favourite is the Bergamot & Amber combination- a rough, yet fine scent, with a citrusy essence.

Where are CHOE candles stocked?

We mostly supply boutiques and concept stores in Greece and abroad, as well as several web stores. Our products are also available online on our website. 

On another note, can you tell us your favourite holiday destination in Greece and why?

How could one possibly choose a single favourite Greek destination? However, there is a small historical village on the island of Corfu that stands out to me. It was developed between the area of the prosperous Ropa Valley and the olive-growth hills. Strolling along the picturesque alleys, you will come across many old stone houses, flowery courtyards, and some historical ruins. The village due to its strategic location and fertile land, use to be an important centre during the Venetian era in Corfu. Nowadays it’s just a charming little village of merely one hundred residents. As you might guess, this is the place where we were born and raised and furthermore, the place where CHOE brand is located.

How would you describe Greece’s design scene in 2020?

Despite the difficulties that the pandemic has brought and the general financial recession, I find the Greek 2020 design scene very creative, while still preserving its own unique mark.