The Greek government has scheduled a new bill allowing non-EU buyers to gain full citizenship, subject to a qualifying property purchase.
To date, investors who have bought properties in Greece worth more than €250,000 have been granted five-year residency permits in the country. Under the new scheme, permits will be renewed and after seven years, investors will be able to enjoy the benefits of Greek citizenship.
The initiative is part of the Greek government’s drive to encourage foreign investment in its property market, with incentives of particular interest to investors outside the EU such as Russia and China.
Russian, Chinese and Middle East investors have been pouring money into Europe’s property markets motivated by restrictions or sanctions in their domestic markets and growth prospects overseas. Greece has followed other countries such as Spain and Portugal in providing non-EU buyers with opportunities for permanent residency outside their native countries.
The amended program, set to be introduced later this year, will also be extended to provide residency for parents of investors. Until now, non-EU property investors in Greece have only been able to obtain residency for spouses and children under 21.
Another slight change to the policy is that residency visas can be transferred to a new owner if they are also non-EU investors and buy the property within the five-year residency period, something that is not allowed under existing legislation.
Property prices in Greece have fallen almost 40% since 2007 and although values are beginning to stabilise, there has been little upward movement for many years. However, this has been of benefit for investors looking for property to rent out to holidaymakers or long term residents, with low purchase costs and relatively stagnant rents considerably widening the yield spread.
Greece is a perennially popular country for both property investors and tourists and although very harshly hit by the financial crisis, its real estate is rising up the popularity charts once again.