BUSINESS

Illegal real estate agents have outnumbered legitimate ones

By Nikos Roussanoglou

The sector of real estate agents is particularly prone to social security contribution evasion and to undeclared labor, as according to data from the Hellenic Federation of Realtors (OMASE), the number of illegal agents is actually higher than that of the legal ones.

The profession of estate agent is officially being performed by some 4,000 people across the country today but there are another 5,000 people, according to estimates, working as realtors and negotiating sale transactions and rentals of properties without being properly registered.

As a result the state misses out on millions of euros in tax revenues, to say nothing of the lost contributions to the Freelancers’ Fund (OAEE), as none of those illegal agents pays any of the contributions provided by law. These professional also tend to rarely declare their commission from a sale to the tax authorities.

Legal estate agents have said that a number of their former colleagues continue to have a regular presence in the market even after having handed in their licenses, often using fake certifications or simply using third parties as mediators.

OMASE data show that before the outbreak of the financial crisis there were more than 8,000 professionals on its register. Between 3,500 and 4,000 were in Athens, some 1,800 were in Thessaloniki and the other 2,700-3,000 in the rest of the country. This number has now dropped by 50 percent. The capital has around 1,850 legal realtors, there are fewer than 900 in Thessaloniki and about 1,200 in the rest of Greece.

OMASE General Secretary Lefteris Potamianos told Kathimerini that “several realtors retired in the last few years due to the crisis and others left the industry because they were unable to survive. Yet some of them have remained active, without meeting the respective tax obligations.” He added that the number of individual exercising the profession illegally has soared, along with those calling themselves investment consultants.

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