EuropePolicy Updates

Greek Govt. Announces New Golden Visa Rules: 4 Price Tiers From €250,000 to 800,000

After weeks of mixed signals, the Greek government today finally announced the new real estate investment thresholds for its wildly popular golden visa program.

Over the last month, official statements and insider intel have all indicated that the program’s real estate rules were about to change, but reports have varied widely as to the details. The government entertained many proposals and, at various times, evaluated multiple price tiers for different areas and restrictions on short-term leases.

Today, the Ministry of Finance announced its final rules, which it will now present in Parliament for a vote. Since the government has an absolute majority of seats in the national assembly, the chances that the published law will differ materially from what the government has outlined today are but theoretical, explains Greek golden visa specialist lawyer Alexander Varnavas.

The new rules are as follows:

In principle, Greece will have two types of zones:

  • EUR 800,000 in the entire Administrative Region of Attica (which includes Piraeus and most of the capital region), the Regional Units of Thessaloniki, Mykonos, and Santorini, as well as in islands with a population of over 3,100 inhabitants; and
  • EUR 400,000 for all other regions of Greece.

Moreover, the entire investment must pertain to a single property with a minimum area of 120m².

However, the government has provided two crucial exceptions to the EUR 400,000-800,000 level. The minimum investment will be EUR 250,000 for:

  • Properties converted from commercial to residential: Investors may qualify by acquiring commercial properties for EUR 250,000 and converting it to residential. In these cases, the EUR 250,000 price threshold will continue to apply regardless of the location and size of the property. Crucially, the conversion must be complete before the investor can submit his golden visa application.
  • The restoration of listed buildings: Investors may qualify by acquiring properties in listed buildings (of historical or cultural importance) that the investor has fully restored or reconstructed. Also in this case, the lower threshold applies regardless of the location and size of the property. The renovation must be completed by the fifth year of residency if the investor wishes to renew his golden visa.

Restrictions on property use

Golden visa investors may not place their properties on the short-term rental market (i.e., AirBnBs). Moreover, investors may not use properties qualifying through the conversion of commercial real estate to residential as registered company headquarters. Non-compliance with the property use restrictions will result in the revocation of the residence permit as well as an administrative fine of EUR 50,000.

The Finance Ministry’s statement did not specify whether the above restrictions would apply to properties owned by already-approved golden visa residents.

While the new rules will take effect on the 31st of this month, the government has provided a transitional period (as they did when raising the prices last year): Applicants will be able to qualify under the current thresholds as long as they pay a 10% investment deposit before September 30th and complete the investment by New Year’s Eve 2024. Should the investor not finalize the investment on time (but having paid the 10% deposit), they will have until April 2025 to complete the purchase of another property and still qualify under the current thresholds.

Consequences: The exceptions will become the main qualifying categories

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“While this is a draft bill,” explains Varnavas, “it is all but certain to pass in Parliament thanks to the government’s majority. While there is a theoretical chance minor elements could change before the final publication of the new law, I consider the chances of this to be slim. Partly, that is because we have known about this draft for some time and have attempted unsuccessfully to advocate for adaptations. The government appears to have its mind made up.”

Among the changes market operators in Greece have argued for is the removal of the 120 square meter single-unit requirement.

The law is likely to pass next week, while detailed procedural regulations could take a month or so to emerge.

“My guess is that for all practical purposes, the program is now closed for the EUR 400,000/800,000 segment,” remarks Varnavas. “Investors and developers will now pivot to the conversion and restoration exceptions, which they can now offer for EUR 250,000. Indeed, property developers to whom I have spoken have already confirmed such plans.

Indeed, when Portugal made similar changes to its golden visa program a few years ago, developers were quick to redirect their efforts toward renovation, which offered qualification at lower price thresholds.

In the end, concedes Varnavas, the changes could be positive. “A lot of derelict and idle buildings can now perhaps get a second life, and developers and funds will find ways to adapt to the new rules by using the exceptions to their advantage.”

Precisely how the changes play out will depend on the fine print and wording of the detailed regulations, which will provide operational definitions for what types of properties and works qualify as convertible or refurbishable.

The Greek golden visa is enjoying historically unprecedented levels of demand, which has seen its backlog of unprocessed applications rise to nearly 30,000. The sharp upward trend began last year, driven by a limitation of qualifying options in Portugal’s competing program and the long advance notice Greece gave prospective applicants ahead of its last price hike seven months ago. Now that thresholds and restrictions are changing once more, also this time with ample forewarning, another wave of rushed applications would not be unexpected.

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Christian Henrik Nesheim AdministratorKeymaster

Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine - online or offline - for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.

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