House hunting in Greece: a tailor-made perch on the Aegean coast

Built into a mountain on the rugged coast of Dikastika Bay, this five-level house can be found in Dikastika, a small town in the Attica region of Greece, about 30 miles northeast of Athens.

Custom built for sellers in 2015, the 5,920 square foot home offers stunning views of the Gulf of Petalioi, in the Aegean Sea, from every floor. “This is a great offer on an exceptional property with stunning views,” said Theo Bosdas of Engel & Volkers MMC Greece, the listing agent. “A house like this on the Athenian Riviera, in the southern suburbs, would cost twice as much. “

Along with quarter-acre rolling land, the home’s landscaped grounds include an adjacent public park where vendors have planted palm trees and other green features, with permission from local authorities. “It is not theirs, but they wanted to expand the feeling of the land they have,” Mr Bosdas said. “It adds to the feeling of opulence in the house.

From the road, a carved steel gate opens onto a short driveway and a three-car garage. On the upper level, two guest bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms share the level with an outdoor tiled terrace and a bean-shaped swimming pool. The owners built the pool as an extension of the house rather than in-ground; the facade is covered with rough stones recovered from the construction of the house.

The master bedroom occupies the third floor, with a large bathroom and a walk-in closet with custom-made wardrobes. “Everything is great in there,” said Mr Bosdas. A private staircase reaches the master bedroom from the pool level. An elevator also serves all floors.

On the fourth level, a large room has a living and dining room and a fireplace. The room’s 26-foot ceiling extends beyond the fifth floor. An oak spiral staircase, the centerpiece of the room, winds around an oak panel carved from floor to ceiling.

Next to the dining area, the kitchen has a horseshoe shaped breakfast bar, as well as custom Italian cabinets, SMEG appliances, and Grohe light fixtures. Directly opposite, a covered outdoor seating area includes a pizza oven and barbecue. A white triangular awning comes out of the house to cover the seating area. “Some of the decor is Art Deco inspired, mixed with these modern elements,” Mr. Bosdas said.

The fifth floor, called “the captain’s room”, offers stunning sea views and has its own bar and kitchen, a fireplace and a built-in sofa. “You can see both sunset and sunrise due to the location of the house,” Mr. Bosdas said.

The furniture, imported from the United States, is negotiable. An “American, Asian or Russian” would be the most likely buyer for the home, said Bosdas. “It’s pretty flamboyant. And while the house “may seem remote to a Greek buyer,” he said, “it’s perfect for people who want to be a bit secluded. This is one of the top two or three properties in the area.

About an hour from central Athens, Dikastika borders the Schinias-Marathon National Park, a protected area of ​​five square miles of wetlands and forests. Although “not quite on the map” for foreign luxury buyers, Dikastika is “a beautiful area and the beach is magnificent,” said Yannis Ploumis, Managing Director of Ploumis Sotiropoulos / Christie’s International Real Estate in Athens. “The house values ​​are moderate and you can live close to nature. “

A large convenience store serves Dikastika; Retail shops, hospitals and professional services are available in the town of Nea Makri, about 10 miles to the south, Bosdas said. Athens International Airport is approximately 25 miles to the south.

While Greece has long been popular with foreign buyers, the Greek government has adopted policies designed to keep the market competitive. A residency-by-investment program, known as the Golden Visa, launched in 2013 and links a residency visa to a real estate investment of 250,000 euros ($ 293,000) or a financial investment of 400,000 euros ($ 470,000 ) in Greece.

In 2019, the real estate market received another boost from a plan to attract retirees and high net worth buyers: Investors who park 500,000 euros ($ 586,000) in Greece receive Greek tax residency, with tax annual lump sum of 100,000 euros ($ 117,000) on the worldwide income of one of the 57 countries with which Greece has a tax treaty.

Both programs have helped house prices gradually recover from their lows after the debt crisis of the past decade, which left Greece on the brink of bankruptcy. “There is an almost complete recovery in the market from this loss,” said Alexandra Sekouri, founder of Athens real estate consultancy Lithos Investment and vice-president of the Hellenic Association of Real Estate Agents.

But in 2020, pandemic lockdowns “froze” Greece’s roaring real estate market, “Sekouri said. Based on data from the Bank of Greece, she said that transactions in Athens, the capital and largest city of Greece, fell almost 50% from 2019 to 2020. Likewise, revenues from the Golden program Visa fell nearly 75% in 2020, although applications have rebounded as they cross borders. have reopened.

The reopening of borders this year has pushed up prices as foreign buyers returned and inventories declined. Ms Sekouri said house prices in “the most expensive areas of Athens,” including Kolonaki, Parliament and the Athenian Riviera, can now exceed $ 1,100 per square foot and reach $ 2,700 per square foot in luxury villas or apartments by the sea.

According to data from his firm, house prices in Athens rose 6.4% 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 a real estate law firm with offices in Greece and the Netherlands. “Athens is very popular at the moment, mainly for houses close to the historic center.”

Nationally, Mr. Gavriilidis estimated that prices rose 4.4% between the second quarter of 2020 and the second quarter of 2021, “and will continue to increase by 5 or 6% each year.” Yet Greece remains a steal compared to comparable European cities, he said: “Ownership in the south of France costs 10 times more than coastal Greece. “

Real estate is expected to benefit from Greece’s growing attractiveness for global business. According to a 2021 Ernst & Young report on investing in Europe, “Greece ranks – for the first time – among the 10 most attractive destinations for foreign investment, with 10% of respondents citing Greece as one of the top 10 most attractive destinations for foreign investment. three most attractive countries for 2021 ”. Microsoft announced last October that it would build a European cloud services hub in Greece.

Foreign buyers in Greece “fall into two main groups,” Ms. Sekouri said. The former are looking for gold visas, most of them from the Middle East, Turkey, Russia and China.

The second group, she said, includes “investors looking for a good return on their investment, such as an Airbnb”, most of them from Germany, France or Italy. After Brexit, the Golden Visa program has also attracted UK buyers “who want to enter the EU,” Ploumis said.

Americans and Canadians are not big 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 Athenian law firm AKL. “To buy property near the borders and on some islands, you need government approval,” she said. “Because the process can be long, I’ve seen deals crumble around it,” she said.

Lawyers are essential for foreigners to complete real estate transactions, Ms. Alexiou said. The Greek government has started to digitize property records to streamline transactions, but confirmation of title still relies on printed documents, “which only a lawyer can search,” she said. Once a lawyer confirms ownership and any construction restrictions on a property, a notary gathers the closing documents from both properties to execute a fence, she said.

For the Golden Visa program, the application fee is 2,000 euros ($ 2,345) for the principal applicant and 150 euros ($ 175) for each family member, with children under 18 exempt. The residence permit “is valid for as long as you own the property,” Ms. Alexiou said, although it must be renewed every five years.

Most foreign buyers pay in cash, said Giorgos Vlastos, tax advisor and co-founder of Greek Advisors, a real estate brokerage and consultancy firm in Rhodes. Greek banks can offer financing “under certain conditions, but we don’t see it very often,” he said. Almost all foreign buyers open a Greek bank account to wire funds to sellers and pay taxes and expenses.

Greek; euro (1 euro = $ 1.17)

Buyers pay a 3% transfer tax calculated on the value of the property, Mr Vlastos said. In December 2019, the Greek government decreed a three-year suspension of the 24% value added tax on properties built after 2006. The exemption is due to expire on December 31, 2022.

Legal fees are set at 1% of the value of the property up to 44,000 euros ($ 51,500), 0.5% of the value of the property from 44,000 to 1.4 million euros ( $ 1.64 million) and 0.4% of the value above, he said.

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

Real estate agent fees are on average 2-3% of the value of the sale and are split between buyer and seller, Ms. Sekouri said.

Mr Bosdas, the listing agent, said the annual property taxes on this home “are less than $ 3,000 – well below those of other competing resort areas.” He estimated the maintenance costs, including the pool, gardens and heating, to be around $ 1,000 per month.

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

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