BUSINESS

Greece’s Golden Visa program proving irresistible for investors

NIKOS ROUSSANOGLOU

TAGS: Property, Economy

Greece has one of the most attractive programs for foreign investors to acquire property. A comparative study by Portuguese property service company Imovirtual showed that Greece’s Golden Visa program for the provision of a five-year residence permit is the second cheapest in the European Union and the fifth cheapest globally.

For non-EU citizens to obtain a residence permit in Greece for themselves and their families, it entails the purchase of real estate in the country amounting to at least 250,000 euros. Moreover, the current conditions in the local market allow investors to buy decent assets for such a sum, delivering significant value for money. This is without factoring in the potential capital gains from resale, given that housing prices are on the rise.

The Imovirtual survey showed that, in Greece, an investor could purchase a 178-square meter property for 250,000 euros, which is among the biggest that similar amounts can buy in other countries. For instance, in Hungary, they could get a 122 sq.m. property for the minimum investment of 200,000 euros required for a residence permit, while in Malta, where the minimum is 270,000 euros, that amount would only be enough for a 98 sq.m. property.

This explains the wave of foreign investors from non-EU countries that have been observed entering the Greek property market. The latest data from the Migration Policy Ministry showed that a total of 3,892 Golden Visas had been issued by end-2018, and that almost 1,400 such permits were issued over the course of last year.

The latest available data for this year, concerning the period from January to June 4, showed that another 645 Golden Visas have been issued to non-EU citizens. At this rate, it is estimated that some 1,550 permits will have been issued from January to December by the end of the year, a rise of over 10 percent compared to 2018. In total 4,537 have been issued since the start of the program.

Some 80 percent of them concern properties acquired in Attica, with much smaller shares for assets purchased in Thessaloniki and Crete. The Chinese are the leading group of buyers, having obtained 60 percent of the permits issued (2,757), and continue to be very active. They are followed by Russians and Turks, but there also are a few investors from Iraq and Iran.

More details on the Imovirtual survey can be found here.

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