There are many reasons to buy a property on Crete. Some people wish to make Crete their new home, others are looking for a holiday house, and some are seeking property as an investment. Whatever your objective, now is a very good time to purchase property in Crete. Prices have steadily increased over the last 5 years and the island still has plenty of space to grow. Purchasing a property in Crete through Crete Island Estates is a relatively straightforward process.
Once you have located your ideal property and you decide to proceed with the purchase, these are the basic steps to owning it:
AGREEMENT TO PURCHASE: A form is completed here in Crete that identifies the Buyer and Seller, the property and location, the agreed property price plus estimates for the property transfer tax and legal fees. In addition, a deposit amount is specified and timescales are agreed on.
APPOINT A LAWYER: The Buyer will require a lawyer to assist him with and represent him in the purchase process. The responsibilities of the lawyer include ensuring the Seller owns clear title to the land or property, carrying out searches and preparing all necessary documents for the contract. The Buyer’s lawyer also makes sure that the title is transferred to the Buyer’s name by obtaining the relevant certificate from the Registry of Mortgages. Crete Island Estates can either provide you with a list of reputable lawyers here in Crete or immediately introduce you to one. As the majority of work is carried out here in Chania, the lawyer should reside in Western Crete.
OPEN A LOCAL ΒANK ΑCCOUNT: Before opening your account, it is important to decide who will be handling your finances for the purchase and any ongoing transactions (such as building work or bill paying, if appropriate). This can be yourself if you will be in Crete, your lawyer or Crete Island Estates. The members of Crete Island Estates can explain in more detail what each option entails so that you can make an informed decision. Opening a local bank account takes no more than 15 minutes, and there are several reputable banks in the area. All you need is your passport and your tax number (see below for this). It is not necessary to deposit any funds immediately.
TAX NUMBER OR AFM: As part of the purchasing process, your lawyer will obtain a tax number for each of the Buyers (if there is more than one name on the contract). This is required by Greek law and is needed for all owners of any asset such as a plot of land, a house, a car, motorbike, etc.
PREPARE A POWER OF ATTORNEY: If you are not currently a resident in Crete, your lawyer will require your authorization, in your absence, to check documents, obtain a tax number and finally, when all checks are complete, sign the contract. The time from your decision to purchase to the actual signing of the contract can take anywhere from 5 days to well over a month. A Power of Attorney (or POA) enables the lawyer of your choice here in Greece to carry out the checks and to sign the purchase contract on your behalf. It takes just a short time to obtain the POA here in Crete. A member of the Crete Island Estates team can escort you to the Notary Public and, if necessary, act as a translator to ensure you know what is happening. There is a significant cost advantage to carrying this out while in Crete, even if you want to take some time in your home country before you make your final decision. However, even if you decide to purchase later without having signed a POA, we can send you the necessary forms to do this in your home country.
PURCHASE DEPOSIT: A deposit which will be identified in the agreement to purchase, normally around 11% of the agreed selling price, is required before commencing contract preparation. This deposit should be paid into your own bank account here in Crete. Please be aware that you will need a formal record of transfer (commonly known as a pink slip) for your annual Greek tax return. (See tax declaration below).
PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX: The lawyer will negotiate the amount of property transfer tax with the relevant tax office. When agreed, the transfer tax must be paid to the local tax office by the Buyer or his lawyer prior to signing the contract. A receipt is obtained and this, together with the remaining title and permission documents, will enable the property transfer to take place.
APPOINT A PUBLIC NOTARY: To comply with Greek property law, the signing of the contract must be carried out in the presence of a Public Notary. This can be a Notary of your choice, but one is usually recommended by your lawyer. The Notary does not represent the interests of the Buyer or Seller, but is a public official. The paperwork is lodged with the Notary who, when all is in order, drafts the contract and is present when it is read to both Buyer and Seller or their legal representatives. The Notary is there to ensure that all is understood by both parties and then the contract is signed. The Notary is also responsible for the verification and registration of the transaction in the public records, so that the Buyer acquires the official title of the property.
SIGNING THE CONTRACT: When the Notary and the lawyers are satisfied all is in order, the balance of the agreed purchase price (after the deposit has been deducted) is required simultaneously with the signing of the contract and the Seller’s and the Buyer’s lawyers, together with the Notary, will execute the contract. When full and final payment for the property is made, the deed is transferred and registered in the name(s) of the Buyer(s). At this time, the legal expenses and agent fees are also due (the property transfer tax has already been paid in advance). Please note that all money should be transferred to your Greek bank account ahead of time in order for this to be completed. Crete Island Estates will notify you as soon as the contract is complete. If they are handling your finances, they can prepare a statement of account identifying the charges associated with the purchase. Any balance remaining from the deposit for these expenses will be refunded.
TAX DECLARATION: After purchasing property in Greece, you will be required by law to complete an annual tax declaration. Should you wish, Crete Island Estates can guide you through this process. We will collect and retain on your behalf the receipts (pink slips) which are a record of your foreign transfer. Your accountant will require these as proof for your tax declaration that the funds were brought in from outside of Greece and that no taxes need to be paid in Greece.