Greece adjusts Golden Visa program amid rising outlook for property market

Prices for Greek real estate are expected to continue higher, according to the central bank, a trend that is leading the government to fine tune investment thresholds for the country’s popular Golden Visa program to better channel property purchases by foreign buyers.

According to the latest annual report by the Bank of Greece, Greek housing prices jumped 13.4% last year following an 11.9% increase in 2022 and a 7.6% rise in 2021. The report notes a combination of factors that will help support prices in the near to medium term. In particular, it cites strong demand from foreign investors, Greece’s tourism boom, and young people looking to buy their first homes with government support, combined with the short supply of new constructions.

“Expectations for the Greek real estate market for the period ahead remain moderately positive, as uncertainties related to geopolitical instability at a global level remain significant,” the report says. “In the short term, however, and as long as foreign demand remains strong, prices are expected to continue their upward trend in the high-end segment of the market, lifting up prices in ancillary markets as well.”

The outlook by the Bank of Greece follows other data showing a banner year for real estate development, with building activity at a 13-year high and a further 13.5% jump in housing prices in the first quarter around Athens.

To better channel foreign interest in Greek real estate, the government has announced fresh changes to the Golden Visa program effective March 31. In the most sought after property markets – around greater Athens, greater Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Santorini, as well as islands with a population of over 3,100 inhabitants – the minimum threshold for securing a Golden Visa through real estate acquisition has been increased to €800,000. In other areas the threshold is €400,000.

But for industrial buildings that are converted into housing, and for historic buildings, the minimum threshold is €250,000. The government has also introduced incentives to convert non-residential buildings into homes, and for the conservation and restoration of historic buildings. The new rules also require that residential real estate acquired by investors be at least 120 sq.m. and explicitly prohibits its use for short-term rentals.