Kelemenis & Co
Can anyone (including foreigners) own and occupy real estate in your jurisdiction (including shares in property owning companies)? Are there any restrictions?
Yes, but ownership may be subject to special permits. For instance, the Greek Constitution sets some restrictions so as to protect the natural and cultural environment. Moreover, individuals and legal entities that, respectively, are citizens or have their place of business in a country other than an EU (or EFTA) member state cannot acquire real estate in certain regions of Greece that are close to the Greek border without the State’s consent.
Are there restrictions on lending for the purchase of real estate by foreign companies? If so briefly give an outline?
No. Whether related to Greek or foreign persons, lending on real estate is normally secured by securities in rem, i.e. mortgages or prenotation on mortgages. It should be noted that Greek law has a special law that is intended to deter Greek taxpayers from avoiding disclosure of ownership through the use of offshore vehicles. In particular, legal entities owning property are charged with a special annual tax at the rate of 15% on the value of the property, unless they have registered shares all the way to their beneficial owner and provided they are resident in Greece or in another EU member state, and their beneficial owner(s) maintain(s) a Greek tax registration number.
Please provide a short summary of the fees and costs (including tax) relating to buying real estate in your jurisdiction.
Greek VAT is imposed on the first sale of a newly built building at the rate of 24%, (only for constructions licenses that were issued or revised after 1 January 2006) instead of Real Estate Transfer Tax. Every subsequent transfer following the first transfer is not subject to Greek VAT but to Real Estate Transfer Tax, which must be paid at a rate of 3% by the buyer on the deemed tax value of the property. Other costs include notary fees, which amount to approximately 1.2% of the consideration or the deemed tax value of the property (whichever is higher); land registry fees amounting to 0,475% on the consideration or the deemed tax value of the property (whichever is higher) and cadastre fees amounting to 0,475 % too. In the case a mortgage has to be registered on the property 8% on the consideration or the deemed tax value of the property (whichever is higher) needs to be paid too.
Are there taxes applicable to owning real estate and can the burden of the taxes be passed to someone else (e.g. a tenant or an occupier - not being the owner)?
All properties in Greece owned by individuals or legal entities on the 1st of January of every calendar year, are burdened with the so-called Single Real Estate Property Tax (“ENFIA”) under the provisions of Law 4223/2013. This is an annual tax calculated on the so-called “objective value system” calculated by the tax authorities on the deemed value of each property. Additionally, each local authority may impose various municipal fees and taxes on real estate, which differ from municipality to municipality. The most common fees and taxes imposed are the (i) municipal fees of lighting and cleaning costs, (ii) municipal tax on electrified areas and (iii) the so-called Telos Akinitis Periousias (TAP), a municipal property fee.
Are there tax breaks or other incentives for foreigners to buy real estate in your jurisdiction? If so what are they?
No, there are not any tax breaks but there are some incentives that are given to foreigners. The Greek Government has issued a “Golden Visa” scheme, which gives its holder the right to reside legally in Greece (and Europe) for five years which can then be extended. The golden visa can be granted to those who own real estate property in Greece either personally or through a legal entity of which they hold equity corresponding to at least €250,000 of the acquired property.
How is the ownership of Real Estate evidenced in your jurisdiction?
Land ownership titles as well as transfer of a title and the formation or change to rights in rem have to take the form of a notarial deed and must be registered with the competent Land Registry/Cadastral Office which in some areas operate in parallel. Electronic access to ownership titles and electronic conveyancing are not available yet.
Is it possible to keep the identity of owners of real estate confidential in your jurisdiction?
All public books in the Land Registries and the Cadastral Offices are accessible. Land Registries and the Cadastral Offices are obliged to provide certified copies of the registered title deeds and certificates of registration to all applicants.