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Golden Visa Price “Up to €800,000 Very Soon” in Areas of High Rent Pressure, Says PM

Responding to proposals from the socialist opposition in Parliament yesterday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis confirmed what Economy and Finance Minister Hatzidakis first signaled late last month: The government plans to raise the minimum investment requirement for golden visa real estate in areas “where there is significant pressure on rents.”

Whereas Minister Hatzidakis had merely indicated the government planned to raise prices, the PM offered further details about price points and areas. Addressing Nikos Androulakis of PASOK, who has repeatedly called for the outright abolishment of the program on the grounds that it’s making real estate unaffordable for locals, the PM pointed out that, as demonstrated by the numbers, golden visa investment was not the bogeyman PASOK had made it out to be:

“You know, it’s always convenient in any complex problem to have a ‘bad guy’ to target,” commented Mitsotakis, according to Tornos News. “In this case, you’ve chosen the ‘bad guy’ of the real estate market to be the Golden Visa. But look for yourself: Only 7% of real estate sales over the past two years involved Golden Visas; just to make it clear that it is not the Golden Visa that is causing the increase in real estate prices.”

The PM also pointed out that the program has “brought a lot of money to our country.” IMI’s conservative estimate, which presumes a historical per-applicant average investment of EUR 300,000 (including applicants awaiting approval), indicates the program has raised FDI of close to EUR 6 billion since 2015.

But the PM also validated some of the opposition’s concerns, admitting that concentrated golden visa investment could exacerbate affordability issues in certain municipalities.

“We already made a first move,” the PM told Mr. Androulakis, “to increase the Golden Visa limit to EUR 500,000 for areas of high demand. I think we need to go further. And I really think that the separation of areas in Attica, where some areas have a limit of EUR 500,000 and some have a limit of EUR 250,000, as you rightly point out, has created a lot of pressure on Western Athens, that is, areas which at the moment would not under normal circumstances be targeted by Golden Visa buyers, resulting in an increase in these areas as well.”

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The PM revealed he had been discussing the matter with the Minister of Economy and Finance and that he believed the government would "very soon" be able to announce a further increase in the investment threshold for areas of "significant pressure on rents," by which he said he was referring to the "large urban centers as well as the islands."

In those locations, he said, "the threshold will go much higher. We will see at precisely which level. It can go up to EUR 800,000. This would make them investments that don't compete with those investments that could elevate prices for [local families] who want to buy an apartment."

PM Mitostakis also said his government was considering a model similar to the former real estate option in Portugal and to "keep the low limit of EUR 250,000 for areas where there is currently no housing pressure. If, say, there is no pressure in Pella or Kozani [two sparsely populated provincial municipalities], why don't we want to create more demand and direct investments of possibly EUR 250,000 to these areas?"

In his summary, the PM said that, "very soon, there will be further government intervention along the logic you [PASOK] are moving towards. Not by suspending the measure entirely but by making it clear that the Golden Visa is for much larger scale investments that do not compete with the average apartment that someone is going to rent."

He also remarked that he had found the opposition's proposal to oblige golden visa investors to rent out their apartments long-term (prohibiting short-term rentals like AirBnBs) "interesting" and that he would discuss it with his government colleagues. "I think," he added, "that it won't make much of a difference because many properties - as I told you, the number is not huge - are already on long leases. But it's something I find interesting and I think it's worth discussing and - why not? - moving in that direction."

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