Property law is the area of law that concerns real estate. Real estate property (or imovable property in distinction with movable property) is land and anything constructed in, growing in, or affixed to it, including buildings and crops.
The practice area of real estate and property law, deals with a variety of related issues, including the following: rights and interests in real estate and real property; sales, purchases and other transfers of real estate and real property; deeds of real property; settlement of claims against property rights; property development; and land use.
Generally, there are no restrictions in purchasing property in Greece, apart from certain specified areas by law, for which a special license is required for non E.U. citizens or companies. For the legal or physical E.U entities all restrictions have been lifted long ago for the whole of Greek territory, so that the E.U. citizens and companies can purchase property in Greece under the same terms and conditions as the Greek citizens and companies.
What are the costs of acquiring property in Greece?
We should note that the Real Estate Transfer Tax is regulated by law no. 1587/1950 in connection with law 4226/2013 while V.A.T. was established mainly by law no. 3427/2005. Furthermore, law 4172/2013 introduced a capital gains tax payable by the seller.
Real Estate Transfer Tax
Real Estate Transfer Tax is imposed on any transfer of real estate against a price in money or in land this Tax is levied on the price stated in the contract. However, if this price is below the objective value of the estate, the tax is calculated on the objective value of the estate. This tax burdens, by law, the buyer of the property, who has to pay, in full, the competent Tax Office prior to concluding the transfer deed. As per the new tax regulations, the tax factor amounts to 3%.
Value Added Tax (V.A.T)
Law no. 3427/2005 modified the V.A.T. Code (law no. 2859/2000) and brought about the imposition of V.A.T. for new buildings. According to the new tax regulations, V.A.T. at 23% is levied where a newly-erected real estate is acquired against a price in money, for which building permission was issued after 01.01.2006.
Capital gains tax
Law 4172/2013 introduced the capital gains tax for the first time in Greek legislation and is imposed on property sale transactions as of 1.1.2014. Such tax is payable by the seller and is calculated at 15% on the difference between acquisition and sale price. There is a scale reducing the taxable capital gains based on the years that the seller kept the property before selling it, while an exemption is provided for capital gains up to 25.000€ as well as in case where the seller had acquired the property before 1.1.1994. The capital gains tax of 15% on property sale transactions has been suspended up to 31 December 2016.
It is important to note that transferal taxes apply only in the case of drawing up the final contract for sale. In any other case, such as the drawing up of the pre-contract, even if it is drawn up by a notary public, such taxes are not required to be paid.
What’s the cost of maintaining property in Greece?
In 2013, in an attempt by the Greek government to set the basis for a regular and long-term taxation of real estate, a new law was imposed which introduced the term “Uniform tax on real estate”, in Greek called “ENFIA”. From 1.1.2014 onwards, ENFIA will be the uniform tax on any rights held on real estate in Greece. The ENFIA is levied both on buildings and on any plots of land. For the purposes of estimating the ENFIA, the following are calculated to amount the real estate property value: the right to complete ownership or ownership deprived of the right to use, the right to enjoyment or residence, the contractual right to exclusive use of parking spaces, secondary spaces and swimming pools which are found on jointly-owned parts of a ground floor, an outdoor lower ground space (‘piloti’ in Greek) parking area, an attic or any uncovered space of the building, etc.
Every person, regardless of their origin and place of residence, is due to pay this tax on their real estate property which is located in Greece. Taxes are imposed on the 1st of January of the tax year, regardless of the changes which may arise during that year.
The ENFIA is calculated by multiplying a “basic tax” which depends on the tax value (i.e. the value as calculated by the tax office) of the area that the property is situated. Such basic tax is then multiplied by several other factors; such basic factors are:
- the construction year of the property
- the floor it is set in
- how many facades the property has
- the size of the property
- if the property contains any auxiliary spaces e.g. storage rooms, etc.
The above Real Estate Tax and Sanitation and Lighting Tax are collected in Greece and payable through the bills paid to the Public Electricity Providers (electricity bill) and they are paid in favor of the Greek State as opposed to the previous taxes which relate to personal tax statements. The amount payable is mainly determined by the size of the real estate in question. The law prohibits public notaries from allowing the completion of a contract for sale, if confirmation of payment from the municipality, which regulates the real estate in question, is not obtained.
Mandatory representation by Lawyers for property sale contracts in Greece
Representation by Lawyer is mandatory when notarizing most contracts of sale in Greece. The Lawyer carries out the Land Register searches and oversees the preparation of the contract. Most of the times the Lawyer is the representative of the client and has the authority to execute orders due to relevant power of attorneys. Statutory contributions must be paid to the local branch of the Law Society in favor of the Lawyer.
The contract of sale
Greek property transactions are put into effect by concluding a notarized, precisely worded contract of sale. The object of purchase is described accurately and also the sale price. When the sale price is due, rescission rights and contractual penalties in the event of late payment and/or rescission of the contract of sale are stated. Notaries maintain all original contracts in their archives and can provide official copies to the contracting parties.
Payment of the sale price or the residual sale price takes place at the same time as the notary’s contract is drawn up and is signed by the contracting parties. Payment of land transfer tax must be made prior to transfer of title, which is usually carried out by Lawyers.
Land Register in Greece
Each contract is registered at the land registry of the area of the property. According to the Greek Civil Code change of title is effected upon registration with the Land Registry having jurisdiction for the real estate. The Land Registry (Greek: Ipothikofilakio or Ktimatologio) has jurisdiction for specific municipalities.
Greek Land Registers have been, however, and to a certain extent still are kept by person (Ipothikofilakio) rather than plot (Ktimatologio). A decision has been taken to modernize Greek Land Register practice to alleviate the difficulties arising when verifying ownership status. Restructuring in Greece has been summed up under the term “Ktimatologio” (National Cadastre).
The Greek Land Register operates by registering the transactions (such as owner’s name, legal deed, whether encumbrances, easements, legal disputes etc.) according to plots and not owners. The Greek Cadastre/Land Register has already been completed in many Greek regions whereas many areas are under cadastral survey.
Specifically in Kefalonia have been recorded so far in “Ktimatologio”/Land Register the following areas:
- “Dilinata” region since 01.04.2004.
- “Thinea” region since 15.07.2004.
- “Farsa” region since 10.08.2004.
- “Kourouklata” region since 10.08.2004.
- “Argostoli” region since 22.12.2004.
- “Faraklata” region since 20.12.2010.
Our office performs a full legal check in order to protect the client’s interests during this process
The standard check includes:
- Deeds check in order to secure that the ownership status of the vendor is in order and free of legal defects; to ensure that the succession of the owners before the vendor has not been “broken” at any point in the past; that all contracts are up to date and signed according to law.
- Check of the property’s current legal status in order to secure that there are no incumbencies, mortgages, confiscations, claims, or any other property rights that burden the property.
- In case the vendor is a legal entity, we ensure that the status of the company is in perfect legal order and that the Manager or the Attorney or the Legal Representative of the company is authorized to sign and commit the company with his or her signature.