The Golden Visa program, which concedes residence permits to third-country nationals who invest in Greece, is set to show its first annual decline this year since it was launched in 2014.
“In the first three months of the year we had practically no new transactions and this is unlikely to change in the rest of the year, with a possible exception in the final quarter when there may be an increase in market activity,” Alexandros Risvas, head of the Risvas & Associates law firm, told Kathimerini.
He added that although there is some demand, this will not translate into new property purchases until 2021, and this is provided that air transport will been fully restored by then.
In the first quarter of 2020, the number of Golden Visas issued reached 227, as travel restrictions had reduced visits from China, where the bulk of demand for the Golden Visa program originates, since late January.
Another factor hampering the program this year is psychology, as many interested investors don’t want to take the risk of traveling to Greece in the midst of the pandemic, even after the borders have fully opened.
A further obstacle to the completion of transactions has been the difficulty in employing alternative ways, such as those offered by technology: “We could have allowed the electronic forwarding of fingerprints, through embassy cooperation, so that at least some of the applications pending in previous months would proceed,” notes Risvas.
On the other hand, the successful management of the pandemic by Greece serves as an additional attraction for more investors, if not for 2020 then at least for next year. Risvas argues that the latest indications from abroad also point to a shift in the plans of several investors, especially those from China: “After the pandemic and its successful management in Greece, a number of Chinese investors are now interested in acquiring a house for their own use [here],” he says.
Based on the latest data, the total number of Golden Visas issued since 2014 came to 7,414 by end-March 2020, of which 5,352 or 72.2% concerned Chinese investors, showing the significance of that market for the program.