Russian and Chinese investors go for Greek Golden Visas

Santorini, Cyclades, Greece

Russian and Chinese investors are going for Golden Visas in Greece, according to official figures.

The two countries are dominating investment in Greek real estate through the scheeme, which offers residence permits to non-EU buyers who spend more than €250,000 on real estate. At a meeting last month at the Ministry of Economy, Enterprise Greece (the organisers of the program) reveals that 1,573 permits have been granted to investors as of the end of January 2017. Chinese buyers have led demand for the scheme, accounting for 664 per mits, followed by Russian buyers, with 348. Egyptian, Lebanese and Ukrainian investors follow, with 77, 73 and 67 permits respectively.

Including family members of investors, 3,809 visas have been handed out in total.

The scheme’s slow-building success was announced just as international interest climbed significantly on, with Greece the fourth most popular country on the portal in January – its first time in the Top 10 in six months.

Greek real estate received 2.1 per cent of all enquiries on the international portal during January, the country’s highest share of enquiries since August 2013, when it accounted for 3.26 per cent of all enquiries. Greece’s last time in the Top 10 was in July 2016, when it was ranked ninth, with 1.39 per cent of enquiries.

For more, read our full Top of the Props report for January here.


Greek Golden Visas fail to glitter?

7th January 2016


Greece’s Golden Visa scheme has failed to glitter, according to new research.

The scheme, which offers buyers from outside of the EU residency permits in exchange for their investment in real estate, is designed to attract investors from a wider range of countries, boosting demand and generating income for its property market.

It is a tactic that has proven extremely effective for other European destinations, thanks to the combination of being able to travel passport-free within the EU’s Schengen Zone and owning an asset with strong potential for capital growth, plus general lifestyle appeal.

Portugal, which has received the most publicity for its Golden Visas, issued 6,124 permits between October 2012 and June 2015, successfully attracting wealthier buyers prepared to inject a minimum of €350,000 into the country’s economy. Spain saw less success with its more expensive threshold of €500,000, although a not-unimpressive 531 permits were issued between September 2013 and December 2014.

Even Latvia has joined in the game, issuing 13,518 permits since 2010 in exchange for investments of more than a quarter of a million euros.

Despite having the same low threshold of €250,000, though, Greece has paled in comparison to all of the above. According to analysis by the Center of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE), only 983 permits were issued by the country in almost two years between June 2013 until October 2015.

The majority of the visas that were issued went to Chinese and Russian buyers, with others being purchased by investors from the United Arab Emirates (151), Egypt (53), Ukraine (52) and the US (21). However, even in these cases, some applications were submitted by buyers who had already begun to purchase real estate, suggesting that the scheme was not the incentive for those transactions in the first place.

KEPE attributes the scheme’s failure to fire up investor demand to a range of factors, including uncertainty about Greece’s membership of the eurozone, the general macroeconomic climate and capital controls implemented in the country.

Indeed, while 2015 proved a positive year for buyers snapping up bargains on the continent thanks to the weak euro, it was tarnised with doubt for Greece, as the country’s government and future within Europe hung in the balance.

“Hopefully, it would appear matters here will now stabilise and things will become calmer,” a developer based in expat hotspot Crete told us towards the end of the country’s financial crisis. “With a strong pound and Greece stepping out of the chaotic media spotlight, we can concentrate on doing what we do best – building homes for people who want to realise their dream of living in Crete.”

Indeed, buyers remain interested in Greek real estate, with activity levels remaining broadly steady on throughout 2015. Enquiries rose 22 per cent in the third quarter of the year, boosted by the apparent resolution of Greece’s political turmoil, while the country became the 12th most popular destination on the site in July 2015. Wealthy investors seeking visas may not have been the golden ticket the country was hoping for, but for overseas buyers seeking affordable places in the sun, Greece appears to have lost little of its sparkle.