Unlicensed agents - don't use them!
Crete Journal, June 2006
property market in Crete has mushroomed in the last few years, and
unfortunately so has the number of unlicensed agents. Buyers should
steer well clear of anyone dealing in property without an office or
licence - in other words, illegally.
To obtain a licence, the agency owner must have clean European financial
and criminal records, and be educated to a certain level. They must
also have a registered real estate office, be registered as an employer
and pay full Greek National Insurance to themselves and their workers.
Unlicensed agents - some of whom advertise in glossy Greek and English
magazines - cannot meet these strict requirements, or wish to operate
illegally in order to avoid responsibility and tax. They often visit
hotel bars and tavernas, posing as the friendly local who just happens
to have a “cousin” who has a piece of land or old house for sale at
a “bargain” price. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, just waiting for a juicy
foreigner who is asking about property.
We regularly hear stories from clients, about making an initial appointment
through a front-man in their own country or the friendly local in the
hotel bar or taverna, then being told to meet “Yiorgo”, “Manoli” or “Yianni” in
a café or on the street to view unsuitable, overpriced or downright
illegal properties chosen by the agent. To avoid responsibility and
tax, unlicensed agents often operate with unregistered pay-as-you-go
mobile phones and without an office, landline or postal address.
foreign buyers have (without a lawyer or contract) paid in cash for
an old house or plot of land, then paid in cash again for repairs or
a new building, only to find that the house has serious problems or
the plot cannot legally be built on. We are aware of a local instance
where foreign clients lost their life savings this way.
You wouldn’t do this in your own country, so why do it here? Don’t
leave your brain on the plane! And remember that in Greece, as
in many European countries, transactions carried out using the services
of an unlicensed agent may later be deemed illegal and reversed, often
at the buyer’s expense.
If you find a property and decide to go ahead, make sure you have a
lawyer; a contract you can understand; and make all payments by bank
transfer or cheque so that you have written proof of what you paid,
to whom, and for what. If you do not understand what is going on, or
are unhappy about anything, ask for an explanation.
If you are not satisfied with the answer, walk away from that dream
property - it sounds like it may turn out to be a nightmare, but there
will be other properties that fulfil your dream ... and they will be