Buying a property on Crete
Are you searching for a property on Crete, a luxury villa, a holiday home, a rental villa or even a place to call home?
Dreamcatchers Crete independent property agents have many years experience finding the right property on Crete for our customers to buy. From luxury villas to apartments, plots of land or business opportunities - we have property on Crete covered, and we can help you through the legal aspects of the buying process from start through to completion and moving in.
Buying a property overseas is often a different process to buying in your own country.
Our experience of the Greek property market and local Cretan market will help make your purchase as straightforward as possible. Let us guide you through the buying process....
THE BUYING PROCESS
The usual process of course is to first find a property you like and make an offer. We will then negotiate on your behalf with the owners.
When you decide to proceed, you will find that the purchase process in Greece is actually very straightforward. Most properties are sold without a ‘chain’ of buyers and the purchase can proceed quite quickly and smoothly.
Once your offer for a property is accepted then it is important to engage a Greek lawyer to represent you. The lawyer is responsible to act on your behalf and on your instruction for the whole purchase procedure.
Most buyers will engage a Greek lawyer before they return home if they have found a property they want to buy. This saves time later in obtaining a Power of Attorney (see below).
If you are not currently residing here then it is usual to set up a Power of Attorney (POA) for your lawyer. This gives the lawyer the authority to act on your instructions in your absence. If the lawyer acting on your behalf does not have a Power of Attorney, the only other alternative is to travel to Greece at each stage of the process when official documents need to be signed. This is an unrealistic situation as the Greek system is quite complex and signatures are needed at many stages – including even the changeover of utilities etc. Many people ‘find’ a lawyer and raise a POA even if they haven’t agreed to purchase a house as they don’t always want to return just to do this – and raising a POA in their native country is not too difficult but can be a little time consuming (see below).
It is possible to arrange for a Greek Lawyer to act on your behalf from within your own country. This will involve a visit to a local notary with documents from the Greek lawyer authorising him/her to act on your behalf.
These documents/POA will be issued by a Public Notary in the buyers country, (there is one in most small towns and many within any city). These documents will then need ‘an Apostile Stamp’ in your resident country.
‘Apostillisation’ is a process for officially confirming that a stamped/official public document is genuine and can be used for official purposes in a foreign country (Greece in this case). This means having the document approved by a Greek official in your country. This is usually done at a Greek Embassy – and can be done ‘by post’. The rules of where this needs to be done vary from country to country. It is not a difficult process and we have had clients from most Northern European countries manage to get documents ‘Apostolised’.
The seller will also have their own lawyer to act on their behalf. The sales / purchase contract in Greece is signed in front of the Notary Public who draws up the contracts for the sale and acts as an independent third party. The Notary will not allow the sale to proceed without all the necessary paperwork and deeds being in order first.
With a buyers POA, the lawyer can do everything necessary – open bank accounts, obtain tax numbers, sign contracts etc in order for you to purchase the property.
The lawyer works in connection with ourselves - meaning that you do not need to return to Crete during the duration of the buying process. We can also carry out the key handover for the property with the sellers – this means you can return here only when you ready to move in!
We can recommend excellent English speaking local lawyers based here in Chania who specialize in property law. Alternatively you can of course choose your own lawyer, but we suggest that you research this carefully and do take advice as having a good lawyer is a very important part of the process. This is particularly important if you don’t read or speak Greek.
Your lawyer is also responsible for checking the details of the property you wish to buy. In Greece, just as in the UK, there is a land registry where all details regarding property ownership are kept. The lawyer will ensure there are the required and correct building permits and other paperwork for the property and that there are no loans, mortgages or any other monies owed on the property.
According to a new law introduced in 2011 the seller of the property now has a responsibility to provide a valid certificate proving that the property is fully legal and matches all plans/permits. IF they have made any alterations/additions to the property then the plans must be updated to show this and in many cases pay fines for the changes made. Most properties also require an updated topography.
Once the lawyer is satisfied that all the associated documents for the property are in order and its is 100% legal, you will invited to pay a 10% deposit to secure the sale. At this point a pre-contract agreement will be signed. The remaining 90% plus all purchase expenses (see below) are payable on completion at the same time as the property is signed over into your name.
The entire process usually takes in the region of 8-10 weeks but can be quicker/slower depending on the time taken to obtain all the paperwork required from the various authorities.
The approximate expenses over and above the agreed selling price are 2.5% agent’s fees plus 3% purchase taxes and lawyers, notary and land registry fees which total around 5-6%
So allow approx 10-11% in total on top of the asking price.
When the final, official contracts are signed – again in front of the Notary Public - the freehold ownership of the property passes legally to you and your ownership of the property is immediately registered with the Land Registry. All the details are recorded by your lawyer in the local land registry and any other necessary offices.
Once the property is in your name, your lawyer will also assist with in changing the accounts for utilities etc into your name.
This is just a broad outline of the procedure, please contact us any time with any further queries you have.