Major Golden Visa Changes

The Greek Ministry of National Economy and Finance is moving forward with legislation to raise the thresholds of the Golden Visa. Additionally, according to government officials, the Greek government is trying to prevent the emergence of housing market “bubbles”, in the affordable areas of Attica, that could exacerbate the ongoing housing crisis.

Effectively, the Ministry is introducing limits based on the geographical location of properties, as well as offering special treatment for those investing in preserved buildings. This is being done without compromising incentives for attracting investment capital into Greece or putting hurdles in real estate development.

As announced by Minister Kostis Hatzidakis, starting from March the 31st of 2024, the following conditions will apply for granting a five-year residency permit to third-country nationals (Golden Visa):

    • In the Attica region, the regional units of Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini, as well as on islands with a population of over 3,100 inhabitants, the required value of the property increases to €800,000. In other areas of the country, the value is set at €400,000. In all cases, the investment must be made in a single property (not in multiple properties of lesser value) of a minimum area of 120 sq.m. Purchasing a percentage of an undivided co-ownership property is allowed, with a minimum value of €800,000 and €400,000, respectively.

The following geographical areas of Greece are particularly popular with non-EU nationals:

The northern and southern sectors of Attica (especially the coastal Riviera), the center of Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini. Until now, the €500,000 threshold applied to areas in the Northern Sector, particularly in Penteli, Kifisia, Metamorphosis, Chalandri, Agia Paraskevi, Vrilissia, Nea Ionia, Heraklion, Cholargos, Papagou, Pefki, Lykovrysi, and Maroussi. Similarly, in the Southern Sector, in the municipalities of Agios Dimitrios, Alimos, Glyfada, Elliniko-Argyroupoli, Kallithea, Moschato-Tavros, Nea Smyrni, and Paleo Faliro, and in the Central Sector, the Municipalities of Athens, Filadelfeia-Chalkidona, Galatsi, Zografou, Kaisariani, Vyronas, Ilioupoli, Dafni Ymittos. For example, in Piraeus, prices have risen significantly recently, with purchases hitting record numbers.

Other provisions of the legislative regulation include:

    • For buildings currently serving a non-residential purpose, but are soon to be converted into residences, the minimum investment amount is set at €250,000. The change of use must be completed before submitting the residence permit application.
    • The €250,000 threshold also applies to investments in preserved buildings to be restored. As real estate market experts point out, the exemption for preserved buildings, which will have a lower minimum investment threshold, aims to incentivize foreign investors to invest in this property category, which requires capital for development. Currently, many owners are unable to bear the enormous cost of restoring a preserved building, resulting in a significant portion of these buildings being in poor condition.
    • Residence permits can be renewed for the same period (five years) if the property remains in the investor’s ownership. If the investment is in a preserved building, an additional condition for renewing the residence permit is the completion of the building’s restoration. If the investor sells the property, the residence permit is revoked, and the buyer has the right to obtain a residence permit.
    • Investors can lease the properties they acquire, but short-term rentals are not allowed, and in cases of a conversion into a residence, their use as business headquarters or branches is also prohibited. In the event of a violation, the residence permit is revoked, and a fine of €50,000 is imposed.
    • In addition to property acquisition, third-country nationals can also obtain a residence permit by entering into a long-term lease agreement for a tourist accommodation complex or a timeshare agreement for tourist accommodation, corresponding to the per area value (€800,000 in Attica, etc., €400,000 in the rest of the country, etc.).

According to Mr. Hatzidakis, to avoid disrupting the market, a transitional period is provided with the following conditions:

Third-country nationals could, still, purchase with the current marketprice, or make a 10% down payment, or sign a preliminary or private purchase agreement, demonstrating the relevant credits bySeptember 30, 2024, and finalize their investment until December 31, 2024 under the conditions that were applicable until now. In these cases, if the property purchase is not completed, the buyer can complete their investment in another property, always under the conditions that were applicable until now, but not later than April 30, 2025.

According to real estate market experts, the Greek Golden Visa was the most sought-after globally last year! This is evidenced by data from the Ministry of Migration Policy, indicating that throughout 2023, demand was extremely high, with applications (of initial issuance and renewals) totaling 10,214, marking a five-year high. Additionally, during the past year, 5,701 permanent investor permits were issued (4,231 initial ones and 1,470 renewals). It is estimated that investments of at least €1 billion were made in one year, considering that 4,231 investor permits were issued, corresponding to an equal number of property transactions, with a minimum amount per transaction of €250,000. Furthermore, there are 8,800 pending applications.

Achilleas Karapatakis – External Associate