OPA Magazine, September 6, 2011
One of the most important sections of financial activity in Greece is the conveyance of real estate properties with exchange. Property conveyancing can be effected only through a Notarial Deed (simvoleo) before a Greek Notary Public (simvoleografos). Ownership is perfected through the registration of this Deed, before the competent Land Registry (Ypothikofilakeion) and/or the Land Registry Cadastral (Ktimatologio) of the property’s location.
In a sale, the first and indispensable legal step for the buyer’s lawyer, before the execution of the Deed, would be to conduct a title search on the real estate property to be purchased, before the relevant archives of the competent Land Registry (Ypothikofilakeion) and/ or the Land Registry Cadastral (Ktimatologio) of the property’s location. Through this and through reviewing all relevant listings, either under the name of the owner, as depicted in the Land registry archives, or under the entries, noted under the specific property (in areas where the Land Registry Cadastral is already in effect), the absence of legal flaws is ensured, as well as the lack of registered burdens, lawsuits, seizures, mortgages imposed against the property.
In Greece, there is no centralized or computerized land registry data base, so the lawyer effecting the title investigation has to actually travel to the competent Land Registry at the place where the property lies and go through volumes of books, usually hand written.
When the seller lives overseas, the sale proceeds can be freely remitted abroad without any restrictions.
Greek law on conveyances provides a number of restrictions to the purchase of real estate properties in specific areas of Greece, which have been characterized as “border areas”. These restrictions apply to foreigners for national security reasons. For the execution of any conveyance Deed within these areas, permission by the National Board of Defense/ Ministry of Defense is required. The above permission is not required for people who have the Greek Nationality or are descended from Greek parents and to the citizens of the European Union, as well.
Prior to the execution of the conveyance Deed, a number of documents is required (i.e. issuance of tax registration number, certificate of tax clearance, certificate that there is no Inheritance/ Gift tax due, if the property was acquired by the seller through Inheritance or Gift, Municipal Tax clearance, copy of the building permit, in case that the building permit was issued in 1983 and later, a topographic diagram, when plots are conveyed, etc.); additionally, the submission of the conveyance tax statement, by virtue of which the parties declare to the tax authority the payment of the imposed tax, is indispensable. Sale tax rises to aprx 11%.
Usually, there is no capital gains tax for property sales of individuals.
The entire transaction and registration of sale at the relevant Land Registry/Ktimatologio authorities, can be effected through a Special (Limited) Power of Attorney, by a qualified and experienced lawyer