Greece tightens requirements for Golden Visa Program

Greece's parliament approved a draft bill on Tuesday introducing stricter regulations for the Golden Visa program.

Greece's parliament approved a draft bill on Tuesday introducing stricter regulations for the Golden Visa program, which grants five-year residence permits to non-European Union nationals investing in real estate.

The government aims to reduce property prices to make housing more affordable for local low-income earners.

The revised framework adopts a three-tier approach to investment requirements based on geographic location and property characteristics. The minimum investment threshold ranges from 250,000 euros (US$269,131) for less popular areas to 800,000 euros for properties in high-demand locations like central Athens or Mykonos Island (up from 500,000 euros previously).

Incentives are provided for investments in historically registered buildings requiring substantial funds for restoration.

Under the new terms, Golden Visa investors can only purchase single properties exceeding 120 square meters and can rent them out solely through long-term contracts. And a transition period will conclude on August 30, 2024.

The program, launched in 2013 amid Greece's debt crisis, has attracted an average of one billion euros worth of investments annually, contributing to the Greek economy. However, it has also been associated with a significant increase in real estate prices, particularly in urban centers like Athens.

In 2023, a record number of Golden Visa applications were submitted (10,214 applications for initial visas or renewals).

During parliamentary debates, Greek opposition parties called for the program's abolition to provide more affordable housing options for Greeks. However, real estate agent associations expressed concerns that the new rules would deter investments, arguing that transactions under the program constitute less than 10 percent of the total and only a small portion of such properties are offered for short-term leasing.

Experts attribute housing supply shortages to factors such as short-term rental platforms like Airbnb and insufficient new constructions during the crisis, rather than the Golden Visa program.

George Kontos, a Greek real estate consultant, welcomed the changes, stating that they correct distortions while maintaining openness to investors for mutually beneficial cooperation. He anticipates an initial 10 percent drop in demand due to higher-value property offerings.

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