Purchasing property and building in Skopelos Island, Greece
It is said that Skopelos is the greenest of all the many islands of Greece and once you have spent some time exploring this magical place it is a difficult claim to deny. With five million pines, fifty thousand olive trees and only five thousand inhabitants it is a place where the natural world dominates and the heat of the beaches is fringed by the cool of the forests. There are also many broad leaf trees to be seen with sweet chestnuts, walnuts and oak trees and the island has been famous for the production of plums which were dried in the many plum ovens that create one of the many architectural features seen throughout Skopelos.
Only in recent years people from outside Greece been purchasing property here and in general the Greek people are fairly new to the concept of selling property at all! In previous generations houses were usually kept within the family and if the family couldn’t maintain their properties they often became ruins. This was accentuated by both rural depopulation and the world Diaspora of the Greek people and though this situation as provided an opportunity to purchase some wonderful pieces of property today it has also left us with a situation where people are often not versed in the trading and pricing of houses and land.
To give an overview of the price range, however, is useful to those who are looking for property in Skopelos and we can say that a house in Skopelos Town can be as little as 40,000euro, an average of 150,000euro for something that can be lived in straight away, or up to 300,000euro for something special (and big) and of course as nearly all properties on the island are fairly unique any variation of the above can occur and there very special residences which appear vary rarely which fetch prices up to 900,000euro!
Similarly land for building varies greatly by location, aspect, view and amenities and can be from 40,000euro to 100,000euro for a plot for one house on average and then for larger plots any multiples of the above.
There are no restrictions on citizens of EU countries buying property anywhere in Greece. Some restrictions apply to non- EU citizens buying property in areas designated as “border areas”. Non-EU citizens should apply to the Local Prefectural Authorities if they want to buy property in certain parts of Northern Greece, Crete, Rhodes, the Dodecanese islands or islands in the eastern Aegean Sea. (This does not apply to Skopelos island.)
The transfer of property ownership is always executed in the form of a notarial deed. When the actual agreement is drawn up by the notary and signed by the contracting parties two lawyers are present one on behalf of the seller and one on behalf of the buyer. Your lawyer is there to ensure that you are not cheated, that the title deeds are without impediment, and to determine the objective taxable value of the property. Before the actual sales agreement is signed, your lawyer will conduct a thorough search of the archives at the Land Registry office to make sure that there is no impediment or obstacle to the transfer of ownership and that the title deeds are in order. This does not take long and it will soon be time for you to sign the sales agreement/contract at the office of the notary.
It is normal to deposit 10% of the agreed purchase price when the preliminary agreement is made. You may lose your deposit if you change your mind. If the seller changes his mind, he is obliged to return your deposit to you.
Written preliminary agreements may be dispensed with if the property is not of very high value or if it is obvious that the transfer of ownership will be completed in a relatively short time. Where a preliminary agreement is drawn up, it states who the parties to the agreement are, what the property is, what price has been agreed how the money will change hands. It also includes any other conditions agreed upon.
The notary will want to see that all the necessary documents (tax, deeds etc.) are in order before drawing up the sales agreement /contract. The deposit commits both buyer and seller. One of the differences between purchasing property in Greece and purchasing property in other countries is that most buyers have ready money; there is no chain involved, so it does not take long for the transfer of ownership to be completed. You should have at least enough money for the deposit ready to hand. You would not like to miss a good opportunity because you were too slow with the deposit. The deposit also reduces the likelihood of the seller accepting a better offer. It is wise, easy and quick to open a bank account in Greece.
If the search at the Land Registry office reveals an impediment, your deposit will be returned. If the seller simply changes his mind, he must return the deposit plus 100% in compensation. If the buyer changes his mind he forfeits the deposit. In effect, the deposit binds both buyer and seller to their word.You will have to pay a one-off purchase tax. The amount payable is calculated on the basis of the “assessed value” of the property. The assessed value is lower than the actual market value. The tax due is 9% to 11% of the assessed value.
Planning permission is a matter of course if your piece of land is within the confines of a village, town or city. If your piece of land is not within the confines of a village, town or city, but is within the area covered by town planning, you will be granted permission to build on it provided it measures 2,000m 2, and borders with a municipal road. If your land is not within the confines of a village, town or city, and is not within the area covered by town planning, you will be granted permission to build on it if it measures 4,000m 2 or more, provided it is not within a forested area, and no restrictions are imposed by the Department of Archaeology.
Only fully qualified, registered architects or engineers are allowed to apply for building permits. The cost is approx. 4% – 5% of the estimated cost of the building. Municipal taxes and duties are incorporated in electricity bills. The amount added to your two-monthly bill is negligible and includes a compulsory television license.