Unlicensed agents - don't use them!
West Crete Journal, June 2006

Beware of pirates!The 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.

Danger: Unlicensed agents!Naïve 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 legal.


• Take time to explore the areas you think you prefer

• If possible, talk to previous buyers in those areas

• Ask to meet agents in their office

• Ensure agents have a landline and postal address, not just a mobile number

• Ask to see the agent's licence

• Discuss suitable properties/prices with the agent, to save a wasted viewing trip

You should choose the properties to view, not the agent!