Prop­er­ties-for-per­mits in­ter­est picks up in the last 4 months

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY NIKOS ROUSSANOGLOU

A Greek pro­gramthat awards res­i­dence per­mits to non-Euro­pean Union cit­i­zens who buy prop­erty in this coun­try has only met with lim­ited in­ter­est. Re­cently pub­lished data from En­ter­prise Greece show that just 983 such per­mits have been is­sued since 2013, al­though there has been a 28.5 per­cent yearly in­crease in the last four months.

Third-coun­try cit­i­zens are en­ti­tled by law to a res­i­dence per­mit in Greece – and there­fore the EU – if they ac­quire real es­tate to­tal­ing 250,000 eu­ros or more.

To date, Chi­nese buy­ers have shown the great­est in­ter­est, ob­tain­ing 335 per­mits, with Rus­sians a close sec­ond on 315 per­mits. Buy­ers from the United Arab Emi­rates rank third with 151 per­mits, fol­lowed by Egyp­tians (53) and Ukraini­ans (52). Just 21 Amer­i­can cit­i­zens have bought into the pro­gram.

Es­tate agents re­port that while there is a rel­a­tively strong prop­erty-buy­ing in­ter­est, it is only a small part of that which trans­lates into ac­tual pur­chases.

Com­par­isons with last year are also in­ter­est­ing: Up un­til the end of Septem­ber 2014 – i.e. in the first 15 months of the scheme’s im­ple­men­ta­tion – just 436 per­mits had been is­sued with an­other 83 pend­ing. To­tal tak­ings added up to 67 mil­lion eu­ros. In the fol­low­ing 12 months – i.e. from Oc­to­ber last year up to last month – 464 new per­mits were is­sued, boosted by the up­take recorded mainly since June 2015. This de­vel­op­ment may well be viewed rather pos­i­tively as it took place in a neg­a­tive macroe­co­nomic con­text, with the po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty and the cap­i­tal con­trols en­forced in late June.

There is also a prob­lem with the in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the law, as in cases where the in­vestors have cho­sen to stay in Greece for six months per an­num or more (i.e. a min­i­mum of 183 days), they are obliged to pay in­come tax here, in­clud­ing on money they have earned else­where.

As the Tax Of­fice for Res­i­dents Abroad (“DOY Katikon Ex­o­terikou”) has ex­plained, any cit­i­zens with a per­ma­nent or main res­i­dence in Greece who stay in this coun­try for at least 183 days per year are au­to­mat­i­cally con­sid­ered tax­able res­i­dents of Greece. All this while the res­i­dence per­mit law does not al­low in­vestors to ac­quire a work­ing per­mit.

Es­tate agents re­port that while there is a rel­a­tively strong prop­erty-buy­ing in­ter­est, it is only a small part of that which has trans­lated into ac­tual pur­chases.

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