In Greece, and therefore obviously Corfu, any citizen of one of the original 15 member states of the European Union is permitted to purchase land or property in their own name. (In the past this was not possible and you had to find a Greek citizen to be in partnership with before any purchase could be made.) Citizens of new member states (entry to the European Union after 1st May 2004) can buy property on some parts of the island but at the present time not within the Municipality of Corfu Town. How this ruling will be affected by the new local government structure we are still waiting to hear.
The buyer must have a local lawyer whose responsibility it will be to check the following:
- Title Deeds
- Details of any outstanding mortgage (if applicable)
- Any tax liabilities
- Ensure there are no encumbrances
If land is being purchased then it is also the lawyer’s responsibility to check that the land has building rights.
The lawyer will then appoint a Public Notary who is responsible for drawing up the contract and recording the property with the Land Registry Office.
This process, referred to as completion takes in a straightforward case 40 – 60 days to complete.
The buyer must have a Greek Tax number (which can be obtained from the first floor of the Nomarkio which is opposite the Municipal Theatre in Corfu Town). It is possible to have your lawyer obtain a tax number for you but it is a simple procedure that can be done easily yourself in a couple of minutes, not counting queuing time!
If you are not going to be on the island while the purchase is going through, then your lawyer will advise you to appoint them as a Power of Attorney for all matters relating to the purchase. They will then be able to obtain a tax number on your behalf and deal with any matters arising.
Transfer Tax Currently this is 10% for the first €20, 000 and 11% on the balance. These percentages are based on the Tax Office valuation for the municipal area of Corfu Town and some of the areas close to town. All other areas are 9% for the first €20,000 and 11% on the balance also based on Tax Office valuation. Transfer tax is payable at least ten days before “completion” and is paid to the Government either by the buyer’s lawyer or the Public Notary. Please check with your lawyer as these percentages may change.
Lawyer’s Fee Currently the minimum charge is €300. It is usually between 2% - 2.2% of the sale price however will depend on the complexity and value of the purchase. Again check with the lawyer as to what his charges will be and agree these before starting the purchase.
Public Notary Fee Rates are currently a minimum charge of €500, normally 2.2% - 2.5% of the price of the purchase, as above these may change depending on value and/or complexity.
Property Registration Fee Approximately €300
Value Added Tax 23% of the value of the sale. At present this applies only to new build - any property whose construction license was issued after 1st January 2006. As stated above it is best to check with your lawyers the amount that will be charged before you proceed. The information given is correct at this time but Government legislation could cause them to change.
We would recommend strongly that you are present at the time of the signing of the contract for your house. If this is not possible then the buyer can sign by Proxy having named someone as their Power of Attorney. During the “signature” meeting the following people will be in attendance – the lawyers of the buyer and seller(s), the Public Notary, the buyer and the seller(s). (In many cases old Greek house may have more than one owner.)
Once signed the contract is deemed finalized and can be registered with the Land Registry by the Public Notary. The buyer will then be issued with a certified copy and “completion” is complete, as they say in Greece.
Pre- Contract Agreement Option
Since completion can take up to 60 days many people prefer to sign a Pre-contract. This document can be drawn up your lawyer and is signed by both parties (buyer and seller(s)) Once signed this commits both parties to an agreed price and agreed completion date. The buyer is required to pay a 10% deposit which will be held in trust by the lawyer until “completion”. It is however very necessary to be aware of the following:
1. If the sale does not go ahead because your lawyer has been unable to satisfy himself on any areas such as the issue of clear title, maybe the owner has died or any other unforeseeable problem the deposit will be returned. However any bank charges or currency fluctuations will be paid by yourself.
2. If for any reason you decide not to buy the house you will have to forfeit your the deposit.
On Going Expenses
Just as in your own country once you have bought the house of your dreams there are still on going costs to take into consideration (excluding the mortgage and utility bills etc.). In Greece these are currently the following
Tax Declaration - Has to be done on a yearly basis and involves a small fee for your accountant
Property Tax - There are property taxes in Greece these change quite regularly, consult your lawyer for the most recent
Capital Gains Tax - This was introduced in January 2006 and is on a sliding scale
- Within 5 years -20%
- 5 – 15 years -10%
- 15 – 25 years - 5%
- More than 25 years - NIL
We would also advise that you hire a lawyer (they must be based in Corfu) that is fluent in your own language. We would therefore advise that you contact your own Consulate in Corfu where you will be able to find a list of following professionals:
- Public Notary
- Construction engineer
- Insurance advisor
Although we have tried to be as accurate as possible in our information, we cannot be held liable to any changes in legislature or on costs. Information can change at any time and therefore it is the buyer's responsibility to check all details carefully before proceeding and to clarify costs etcetara with their lawyer.