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Foreign property buyers return
by Nikos Roussanoglou, ekathimerini.com, 4 April 2017

Home purchases by foreigners in Greece moved back up to 2014 levels last year, mainly thanks to the considerable recovery seen in transactions over the last few months of 2016.

According to Bank of Greece data, the value of residential properties sold to foreign investors grew 34.5 percent year-on-year to reach 250 million euros, from 186 million in 2015. In 2014 the inflow of capital for the acquisition of homes in Greece had also come to 250 million euros, against 168 million in 2013 and 113 million in 2012.

Property market sources say that the actual amount invested last year was far above that recorded by the central bank because the bulk of residential property acquisitions by foreigners are conducted outside the Greek banking system. Estate agents who typically work with foreign buyers testify that the majority of Greek sellers ask that the payment be made into an overseas account. They are even prepared to travel to another country with the contract in hand to open a new account. These are entirely legal transactions taxed in Greece, but with the revenue staying abroad.

There are a series of factors behind the rebound in sales to foreigners, starting with the fact that 2015 saw buying interest evaporate due to the three-week bank closure in July and the introduction of capital controls.

Last year the improvement of terms in the Golden Visa program, which grants residence permits to foreign investors who spend at least 250,000 euros on property in this country, served as a carrot for buyers from abroad. Figures show 1,573 such permits were delivered to property buyers in the period from when the program was introduced up to end-January 2017, with a great increase in Turkish recipients, whose property purchases both in Athens and at summer resorts have risen substantially since the July 15 coup attempt in the neighboring country last year.

Another reason is the fact country homes in Greece are much cheaper than at rival destinations for Northern European buyers. Global Property Guide data put the average rate for a high-standard asset in Greece at 2,700 euros per square meter.

However, uncertainty over the bailout review has led to stagnation in the market since the start of 2017.

Monday October 23, 2017
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