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Can I, as a non Greek, buy property in Skiathos?

Yes, anyone who has a valid passport and sufficient funds :o) can buy property in Skiathos.

Do I need to import money to Greece?

You will always have to import sufficient money to cover the purchase of the property,  the notary's fee, lawyer's fee, Records Office fee and the purchase tax.
For non Greeks to purchase property in Greece, it will be necessary to open a bank account in Skiathos and acquire a Greek tax number. If you are buying the property in joint names, the bank account must also be in these names. This is so you can import all necessary funds into Greece thus not incurring Greek income tax.
To get a Greek tax number you will need to give a limited Power of Attorney to a Skiathos resident (we normally recommend an accountant) who will apply for it and represent you to the tax office.

How do I open a bank account Greece?

To open a bank account you will need a Greek tax number and your passport. You will also need to bring an original telephone or electricity bill stating your home address, an official paper stating where you work and your job description (usually from your employer) and finally an official copy of your tax number or social security number or National Insurance number in your country of residence. If you are married and will be buying a property in joint names you must also bring  a copy of your marriage certificate. These must be ratified by an Apostille via a local Notary Public.
It is would be best to have these documents with you when you come to view property, otherwise you will need to return to Skiathos solely to open a bank account.
If you intend to live here for long periods (or retire here) you must import sufficient funds on a regular basis so that the tax man is happy that you are not earning money in Greece.
If you are buying property in joint (or more) names, the bank account should be opened in both (or all of these) names.

Do I need to be resident in Greece?

No, unless you decide to live here on a more permanent basis.
You will need to get a resident's permit if you buy a car or motorbike in Greece.

How long will it take to buy property?

How long is a piece of string? A minimum of 2 months from the time a verbal agreement has been made between purchaser and vendor. This can stretch to several months if there are issues such as road access, unclear title to the property, etc.

Will I need a lawyer?

You are obliged by Greek law to have a lawyer as a witness to the signing of the contract. The fee is around 1% of the contract price of the property. Included in this will be a search through the public records to make sure that the property is free and clear of any debts, mortgages, and other potential problems.

Do I need the services of a real estate agent?

You would be well advised to use the services of a reputable agent. (Who is reputable? Ask around...Skiathos is a small island and it will become very quickly apparent who can be trusted and who not).
An agent is there to protect your rights, to help make an agreement between purchaser and vendor (often involving translation as many Greeks do not speak another language and most purchaser's Greek is not sufficient) and smooth the bureaucratic process. If he is good at his job, he will have earned his commission many times over

What percentage does an agent receive?

Between 2 and 3% (including 16% VAT) of the actual purchase price. Usually 3% if you are a non Greek as extra paperwork and organization will then be involved.

How many extra expenses will I have?

In total, anything between 13 & 16% of the actual purchase price.
This includes purchase tax, notary's fee, lawyer's fee, Records Office fee and agents commission.

Will I need an accountant?

Yes, once you have acquired property, you will need to declare it to the tax authorities and you will have many difficulties if you do not use an accountant. As long as you can prove that you didn't earn the money to purchase the property in Greece, you will not be liable for income tax. Your tax declaration is made the year after the year you purchase your property.

What are my tax obligations?

On 28/1/2008 the president of Greece signed into law the new tax law No. 3634 for the year 2008 within which, in article 5, the government replaces the existing property tax with a new, yearly, single property tax.
This tax will be 0,1% on the objective value (tax valuation, usually less than market value) of houses and building plots (land in towns and villages) that belongs to individual persons and 0,6% for company owners. The land outside of town building plans is not taxable and also storage spaces and
garages are exempt.
First time home buyers who are registered as permanent residents of Greece and use their property as main residency are exempted from this tax for residences up to 200 square meters, increased by 10% for each child.
If a part of this residence is used for base of their personal business, this part will be taxed.
The properties of couples will be taxed separately.
The amount of tax cannot be less than 1,00 Euro per square meter and can be paid immediately or in three parts, after the
submission of the tax declaration.
In case of differences between the amount of size of the properties that have been declared in the 2005 E9 then you will incur a fine between 50-100% on top of the tax.
False, late or not submitted E9 tax declarations will be fined with 300,00 Euros.
If you have never made a tax declaration that you own property in Greece YOU MUST do so now.

Can I build a house myself or do I need a builder?

You will need the services of a civil engineer to make the plans and apply for building permission. Building permission can be fairly costly as the Greek Government is anxious to get its hands on as much money as possible. Whilst building, care must be taken to keep all receipts for materials and labour (to prove that VAT has been paid), and social insurance for the labour must also be paid. You would be well advised to take a reputable builder for this as otherwise you could end up in a nightmare of Greek bureaucracy.

What are building costs?

It depends very much on the location, difficulty of access of your site and whether you want standard materials, tiles, etc. or are prepared to pay (or import) top quality materials. A rough average (including building permission) is 1,400 Euros per square metre (approximately 10 square feet) for good quality, standard building materials.

What yearly local taxes and rates are due?

It depends on the size and location of your building but the local taxes are very light and an average would be around 200 to 400 Euros per year depending on the size and location of your property. Local rates are light too and are paid through your electricity bill so you don't really notice them. This bill also includes your TV and Radio license.

Do I need a representative in Skiathos?

If you are not here for much of the year or will be absent during the building of your villa or house, you would be advised to have someone in Skiathos who can look after your interests, keep an eye on construction work and pay bills as necessary.
If you cannot be in Skiathos for the signing of the contract of sale, you will need to give a Power of Attorney to someone here to act for you. This can be your lawyer, the real estate agent or someone resident here who has your trust.
This is a fairly simple document and can usually be drawn up by the notary within 24 hours.