Home Searching in Greece: A Customized-Constructed Perch on the Aegean Coast

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House Hunting in Greece: A Custom-Built Perch on the Aegean Coast

Built into a mountain on the rugged coastline of Dikastika Bay, this five-story house is located in Dikastika, a tiny town in the Greek region of Attica, about 30 miles northeast of Athens.

The 5,920 square meter house was specially built for the sellers in 2015 and offers sweeping views over the Gulf of Petalioi in the Aegean Sea from every floor. “It's a great offer for an extraordinary property with a breathtaking view,” said Theo Bosdas from Engel & Volkers MMC Greece, the broker. "A house like this on the Athens Riviera, in the southern suburbs, would cost twice the price."

Along with an undulating quarter-acre lot, the landscaped grounds of the home include adjoining public parkland where vendors have planted palm trees and other greenery with the permission of the local authorities. "It doesn't belong to them, but they wanted to expand the feeling of the land they have," said Bosdas. "It adds to the opulent feel of the house."

From the street, a molded steel gate opens to a short driveway and a three-car garage. One level up, two en-suite guest rooms share the level with a tiled outdoor terrace and a kidney-shaped pool. The owners built the pool as an extension of the house and not in the ground; The facade is clad with roughly hewn rock that was salvaged from the building of the house.

The master bedroom suite is on the third floor with a generous bathroom and a walk-in closet with custom-made wardrobes. "Everything is big in there," said Mr. Bosdas. A private staircase leads to the master bedroom from the pool level. An elevator also serves all floors.

On the fourth level there is a large room with a living and dining area and a fireplace. The room's 26-foot ceiling protrudes above the fifth floor. An oak spiral staircase, the heart of the room, surrounds a floor-to-ceiling oak panel.

Next to the dining room, the kitchen has a horseshoe shaped breakfast bar, along with bespoke Italian cabinets, SMEG appliances and Grohe faucets. Directly opposite is a covered outdoor lounge area with a pizza oven and barbecue area. A triangular white canopy protrudes from the house to cover the lounge area. "Part of the decor is inspired by Art Deco mixed with these modern elements," said Bosdas.

The fifth floor, also known as the “captain's room”, offers an unobstructed sea view and has its own bar and kitchen, a fireplace and a built-in sofa. "Because of the location of the house, you can see both the sunset and the sunrise," said Bosdas.

The furniture imported from the USA is negotiable. An "American, Asian, or Russian" would be the most likely buyer for the house, Bosdas said. "It's pretty extravagant." And while the house “might feel aloof to a Greek buyer,” he said, “it's perfect for people who want a bit of isolation. It's one of the two or three best hotels in the area. "

About an hour from the center of Athens, Dikastika borders the Schinias Marathon National Park, a five square kilometer protected area with wetlands and forests. Although Dikastika is "not quite on the map" for foreign luxury buyers, it is "a beautiful area and the beach is wonderful," said Yannis Ploumis, managing director of Ploumis Sotiropoulos / Christie's International Real Estate in Athens. "The living values ​​are moderate and you can live close to nature."

A large grocery store serves dikastika; Retail, hospitals and professional services are available in the town of Nea Makri, about 10 miles south, Bosdas said. Athens International Airport is about 40 km south.

While Greece has long been popular with foreign buyers, the Greek government has put in place guidelines aimed at keeping the market competitive. A residential-by-investment program known as the Golden Visa was launched in 2013 and ties a residency visa to a EUR 250,000 ($ 293,000) real estate investment or a EUR 400,000 ($ 470,000) financial investment in Greece.

In 2019, the real estate market was given a further boost by a plan designed to attract retirees and wealthy buyers: Investors parking € 500,000 ($ 586,000) in Greece will be given Greek tax residency with an annual flat tax of € 100,000 ($ 117,000) $ 000). on worldwide income from one of the 57 countries with which Greece has a double taxation treaty.

Both programs helped house prices gradually recover from their lowest point after the debt crisis of the last decade that nearly bankrupted Greece. "The market is recovering almost entirely from this loss," said Alexandra Sekouri, founder of Athens real estate consultancy Lithos Investment and vice president of the Hellenic Association of Realtors.

But in 2020, pandemic lockdowns have "frozen" Greece's roaring real estate market, Ms. Sekouri said. Based on data from the Bank of Greece, she said transactions in Athens, the capital and largest city of Greece, fell by nearly 50 percent from 2019 to 2020. Likewise, the Golden Visa program's revenue fell nearly 75 percent in 2020, even though applications have rebounded as borders have reopened.

The year’s border openings pushed prices up as foreign buyers returned and inventories dwindled. Ms. Sekouri said house prices in "the most expensive parts of Athens," including Kolonaki, Parliament and the Athens Riviera, can now exceed $ 1,100 per square foot and can reach $ 2,700 per square foot in luxury seaside villas or apartments.

According to his law firm's data, property prices in Athens rose 6.4 percent in the second quarter of 2021 compared to the same period last year, said Giorgos Gavriilidis, co-founder and CEO of Elxis At Home in Greece, a real estate agency and real estate firm with offices in Greece and the Netherlands. "Athens is very popular right now, mainly for houses near the historic center."

Nationwide, Mr. Gavriilidis estimated that prices rose 4.4 percent from Q2 2020 to Q2 2021, "and will continue to increase by 5 or 6 percent each year". Nevertheless, compared to comparable European locations, Greece is a bargain, he said: "Properties in the south of France cost ten times more than on the coast of Greece."

Real estate should benefit from Greece's growing attractiveness for global business. According to a 2021 report by Ernst & Young on investing in Europe, "Greece is among the top 10 most attractive destinations for foreign investment for the first time, with 10 percent of respondents citing Greece as one of the top three most attractive countries for 2021." announced last October that it would set up a European hub for cloud services in Greece.

Foreign buyers in Greece "fall into two main groups," said Ms. Sekouri. The first are looking for gold visas, with most coming from the Middle East, Turkey, Russia, and China.

The second group, she said, includes "investors looking for a good ROI like an Airbnb," with most of them from Germany, France or Italy. After Brexit, the Golden Visa program also attracted British buyers "who want access to the EU," Ploumis said.

Americans and Canadians are not major players in the Greek real estate market, said Gavriilidis: "We see some, but the majority come from elsewhere."

Buyers from outside the European Union face few restrictions in Greece, said Helen Alexiou, managing partner of the Athens law firm AKL. "To buy property near borders and on some islands, you need a government permit," she said. "Because the process can be lengthy, I've seen deals crash around it," she said.

Lawyers are essential for foreigners to get real estate deals, Ms. Alexiou said. The Greek government has started digitizing ownership records to streamline transactions, but ownership certification is still based on printed records "that only a lawyer can search," she said. Once an attorney confirms ownership and any building restrictions on a property, a notary will collect closing documents from both properties in order to conduct a closure, she said.

For the Golden Visa program, the application fee is € 2,000 ($ 2,345) for the lead applicant and € 150 ($ 175) for each family member, excluding children under the age of 18. The residence permit "is valid as long as you own the property," said Ms. Alexiou, although it has to be renewed every five years.

Most foreign buyers pay cash, said Giorgos Vlastos, tax advisor and co-founder of Greek Advisors, a real estate advisory and brokerage firm in Rhodes. Greek banks may offer financing "under certain conditions, but we don't see them very often," he said. Almost all foreign buyers open a Greek bank account to transfer money to sellers and pay taxes and expenses.

Greek; Euro (1 Euro = $ 1.17)

Buyers pay a 3 percent transfer tax based on the value of the property, Mr Vlastos said. In December 2019, the Greek government issued a three-year suspension of 24 percent VAT on properties built after 2006. The exemption should expire on December 31, 2022.

Legal fees are set at 1 percent of the property value up to 44,000 euros ($ 51,500), 0.5 percent of the property value from 44,000 to 1.4 million euros (1.64 million US dollars), and 0.4 percent of the excess Worth it, he said.

Notary fees range from 0.8 percent of the property's value up to 120,000 euros ($ 140,000) to 0.65 percent for properties up to 2 million euros (2.3 million US dollars), Vlastos said.

The brokerage fees averaged 2 to 3 percent of the sale value and are shared between the buyer and seller, Ms. Sekouri said.

Mr Bosdas, the realtor, said annual property taxes on this home are "less than $ 3,000 – quite a bit lower than other competitive coastal areas". He estimated the maintenance costs, including the pool, gardens, and heating, to be around $ 1,000 a month.

Theo Bosdas, Engel & Volkers MMC Greece, 011-30-6936-580-777, engelvoelkers.com

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