Opinion

New Greek Golden Visa: Focus Will Be on Conversion and Restoration Options, Experts Agree


In March 2024, the Greek government unveiled new rules and price tiers for its esteemed Golden Visa program. The changes have sparked discussions about the program’s future and impact on the Greek real estate market.

Questioned as to which categories will see the greatest uptake going forward, Christina Georgaki, Managing Partner at Georgaki Law, pointed to the emergence of three primary categories

Christina Georgaki sees three primary categories emerging: “Properties situated in city centers, available for renovation and conversion at an investment of €250,000, properties nestled in tourist destinations such as Chalkidiki and Peloponnese, maintaining a price point of €400,000, and listed buildings, epitomizing Greece’s grand architectural heritage.”

She anticipates these categories will experience heightened interest among international investors seeking to capitalize on the opportunities afforded by the new regulations.

“For all practical purposes, the program is now closed for the EUR 400,000/800,000 segment”

Ahmed Abbassi, Founder of Greca Homes believes that “the conversion of commercial properties into residential spaces” will likely attract more interest due to the “structural flexibility” and cost-effectiveness of adapting existing infrastructure.

“Commercial properties typically offer structural flexibility that developers can adapt to create multiple smaller units, making it easier for them to meet the criteria for Golden Visa eligibility while maintaining the entry investment at an appealing €250,000,” he explains.

Alexander Varnavas, Managing Partner of Varnavas Law, concurs with Abbassi, explaining that “for all practical purposes, the program is now closed for the EUR 400,000/800,000 segment. Investors and developers will now pivot to the conversion and restoration exceptions, which they can offer for EUR 250,000. Indeed, property developers to whom I have spoken have already confirmed such plans.”

“The impact will be manageable rather than prohibitive”

Georgaki remains optimistic about the resilience of the Greek real estate market, believing that “while the implementation of new regulations may necessitate certain adjustments to construction companies’ business strategies, I anticipate that the impact will be manageable rather than prohibitive.” She says “the Greek real estate market will adapt to accommodate new rules and I think this will be met with agility and resilience.”

Abbassi suggests that developers who had focused on acquiring actual buildings rather than undeveloped land are better positioned, as they can offer tangible assets immediately.

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He advises developers to “diversify their investment approaches to include not just Golden Visa-focused products but also properties that yield rental income, or that can integrate into the thriving hospitality market in Greece.”

Varnavas acknowledges that the changes could be positive in the long run, “a lot of derelict and idle buildings can now perhaps get a second life.” He also notes that “developers and funds will find ways to adapt to the new rules by using the exceptions to their advantage.”

“Temporary solutions without resolving the broader [housing] challenges”

Georgaki welcomes the new measures, particularly in areas such as Piraeus and the suburbs of Athens and Thessaloniki, where house prices have recently increased.

She believes that “the prohibition of leasing Golden Visa properties as Airbnb’s will contribute to mitigating potential challenges on house price rises in the future” and that “by implementing these regulations, a more sustainable and balanced real estate ecosystem will be fostered, safeguarding the integrity of the housing market and fortifying the overall resilience of Greece’s real estate sector.”

Abbassi, however, believes that the actual impact of these changes on property prices will be limited, as “Golden Visa transactions represent a minor fraction of all real estate dealings in Greece.”

He emphasizes that the real issue is the lack of adequate residential housing supply and that “without a strategy that increases the housing supply, these regulatory adjustments might only serve as temporary solutions without resolving the broader challenges of the real estate market.”

Varnavas shares a similar perspective, “the market for golden visas is less than 2% of the total market and less than 7% in popular areas. As a result, prices cannot be affected substantially.”

He points out that while Greece has been recovering after a 15-year recession, leading to a reasonable expectation of rising property prices, “the real problem is that people’s income has not kept up with the economy’s recovery. Additionally, high-interest rates make it difficult for people to apply for a loan.”

Varnavas also notes that “Golden visa investors are an easy political target group for being used for political expediency due to their financial status and lack of voting power.”

As Greece navigates these new Golden Visa rules, Georgaki, Abbassi, and Varnavas’s insights offer valuable perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

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Ahmad Abbas AdministratorAuthorSubscriberParticipant
Director of Content Services , Investment Migration Insider

Ahmad Abbas is Director of Content Services at Investment Migration Insider and an 8-year veteran of the investment migration industry.

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