BUSINESS

Golden Visa issues suffer from Covid-19

NIKOS ROUSSANOGLOU

TAGS: Finance

The issuing of five-year residence permits to property investors from outside the European Union has all but ground to a halt. Based on Migration Policy Ministry data, in the year to early September only 368 so-called Golden Visas were issued, taking the sum of investors to have received these permits since the beginning of the program to 7,903.

At end-2019 their number had come to 7,535, from 4,107 permits at end-2018. Therefore 2019 was a record year for the program with the issue of 3,428 Golden Visas, after the inflow of at least 857 million euros for the acquisition of properties setting each investor back at least €250,000.

The sum of at least €857 million accounts for almost half of the total amount all foreign investors spent on Greek properties last year. In fact that sum was much higher, as according to estate agents specializing in this market the figure soared above €1 billion because most investors tend to choose assets that are worth over €300,000 each.

Bank of Greece figures have shown that the sum of foreign capital that flowed into the country for the acquisition of real estate assets last year reached €1.45 billion.

It therefore becomes clear that 2020 will be a lost year for the Golden Visa program too, as the interested buyers have been unable to travel to Greece for months due to the pandemic and the central decision by Brussels to ban the entry of citizens from non-EU countries, with only a handful of exceptions. This has led to the cancellation of a series of transactions that were in the final stage of completion.

It recently emerged that at least 120 Chinese investors who have already bought property in Greece cannot return to this country to submit the necessary documents for the issue of their residence permit. It is noted that out of the 7,903 Golden Visas issued, 5,869, or 74%, concerned Chinese nationals. The same problem concerns investors from the US, South Africa, India, the United Arab Emirates and Iran.

The second wave of the pandemic has banished any hopes for a rebound in transactions over the course of the fourth quarter, with Attica, where over 70% of such investments take place, being on the verge of very tight restrictions.

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