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Acquisition & Occupation of Real Estate Costs, Evaluation & Taxation

Iason Skouzos & Partners > Practice Areas  > Real Estate  > Acquisition & Occupation of Real Estate Costs, Evaluation & Taxation

Acquisition & Occupation of Real Estate Costs, Evaluation & Taxation

Costs related to the acquisition of real estate

The costs of the  notarial act’s  signature includes  the notary’s fee – which is usually paid by the purchaser, as well as the lawyer’s and the estate agent’s (if any) fee for each party.The cost of the contract’s recordation, paid by the purchaser, includes the recordation fee of the Land Registry Office and/or the Cadastre Office.

The estate agent’s fee is not specified by law and is freely traded, according tο recent Law 4072/2012, article 200 par. 2b, but is subject to a written agreement. Usually a fee of a percentage of 2% of actual price paid for the property is agreed, but this may vary, depending on property value and other factors.

As the presence of a lawyer before the notary is optional, the legal fees are determined by a free agreement The Notary’s fees are usually estimated at 1,2% on the contractual value of the property transferred.

Bank finance for the acquisition of real  estate property

Often, in real estate transfers in Greece, the price is paid to the seller by loan, that is granted by the bank to the buyer. In this case and for the discharge of the loan to the bank, a pre-notice of a mortgage is granted, in favor of the bank. In terms of process, the registration of a pre-notice of a mortgage in favor of the bank, at the expense of the buyer of the property, follows the signing of the contract of transfer and the contract of the loan agreement between the bank and the buyer and it takes place by filing an application before the Court of First Instance of the district where the property is located.

In this procedure, usually an attorney of the bank is present, who submits an application before the competent Court, as well as the buyer  himself, or an authorized attorney, who consents to the registration of a pre-notice of a mortgage  on the property. The decision is issued on the same day and is recorded in the land registry office or the cadastre office  of the region of the property.

The pre-notice of a mortgage is removed by the same procedure, i.e. by decision of the Court of First Instance, following a request by the buyer and by consent of the bank that has been paid out.

Evaluation of real estate property

The value of  land in Greece is assessed according to a so called “system of objective value” (or tax value).This system provides for a minimum value of real estate property according to objective criteria such as position, size, public facilities in the area, age of a building etc. This system has been imposed so that the tax authorities have a reference minimum value in imposing taxes in relation to land. In cases of transfer of land, the transfer tax is calculated on either that “objective value” or the value agreed in the contract, whichever is the highest. The objective values are usually significantly lower than the market values.  Similarly to taxes, most other fees and charges imposed in a land transfer contract are dependent on the objective value of the land or the contractual value of the land (whichever is the highest). Not all areas in Greece have been valued, so in some areas (mainly rural) the tax authorities make estimation of the value according to similar transactions or other available data. As for the tax year 2014, Council of State with a recent Decision no. 4446/2015 decided the retrospective adjustment of the objective value of property.

Taxes imposed on the transfer of property and applicable exemptions.

As from 01.01.2006 (only for the buildings for which the building permit was issued after that date), a VAT of 23% (a VAT of 24% from 01.06.2016) is imposed on the first sale of newly built buildings by a manufacturer, or by a person who deals professionally with the construction and the sale of buildings.

For all other properties that don’t have the obligation to pay VAT, as above-mentioned, the transfer is charged with real estate transfer tax at 3%

Exceptionally, the acquisition of a primary residence is exempt from payment of transfer tax if the purchaser or his spouse or a minor child is domiciled in Greece and no one of them is entitled to full ownership or usufruct or habitation in a residence (article 1 of Law 1078/1980, as amended by article 21  of Law 3842/2010).

These provisions apply to contracts for the purchase of property where the purchaser resides in Greece or intends to do so and falls into the following categories of beneficiaries: a) Greek citizens b) repatriates from Albania, Turkey and the Fomer Soviet Union c) Citizens of the Member-States of the European Union and of the European Economic Area (EEA) d) Recognised refugees, in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree 96/2008 and e) Third-countries nationals, who enjoy the status of long-term residency in Greece, in accordance with the provisions of Presidential Decree 150/2006.

The above-mentioned tax exemption is granted to an unmarried individual for  the purchase of a residence of total value up to EUR 200.000,00, including the value of a parking space and a storage space of 20 sq.m each, under the prerequisite that those spaces are part of the same property and  that they are acquired simultaneously with the same purchase contract,  and for a land purchase of total value  up to EUR 50.000,00.

These amounts of exemptions can be increased, depending on the marital status, number of children etc.

The exemption is granted provived that the property will not be further transferred by the buyer for a period of at least five (5) years. In case that the purchaser further transfers or establishes any real estate right – other than mortgage- on the property, before the expitarion of the five (5) years period, then he is obliged, before the new transfer or the establishment of any real right of the property, to submit before the competent Tax Office a property transfer tax return and pay the relevant tax for which he was initially exempt.

In any case, due to frequent changes in taxation of property, it is strongly recommended that all property related taxes and charges are re-estimated before any purchase.

Main annual taxes and charges related to property ownership

All properties in Greece, belonging to individuals or legal entities on the 1st of January of every year, are burdened with the Single Real Estate Property Tax (“ENFIA”), following the provisions of recent Law 4223/2013.

The above-mentioned term property includes: a) the right to full and bare ownership, the usufruct and the habitation on a property and b) the right to the exclusive use of parking spaces, auxiliary spaces and swimming pools, that lie at the jointly-owned part of basement, terrace or non-covered buiding space of these properties.

The taxable value of buildings (main and auxiliary spaces) is determined by several factors, such as  the surface, the price zone, the floor, the age of building, the facade, the percentage of ownership and other special circumstances.

ENFIA includes not only the principal tax, but also the additional one, which is imposed by the following scale when the value of property exceeds the €300.000:

Value of property (€) Rate (%)
0,01 – 200.000 0,00%
200.000,01 – 250.000 0,10%
250.000,01 – 300.000 0,15%
300.000,01 – 400.000 0,30%
400.000,01 – 500.000 0,50%
500.000,01 – 600.000 0,60%
600.000,01 – 700.000 0,80%
700.000,01 – 800.000 0,90%
800.000,01 – 900.000 1,00%
900.000,01 – 1.000.000 1.05%
1.000.000,01 – 2.000.000 1.10%
over 2.000.000 1.15%

 

In order to deal with a common phenomenon, where particularly offshore companies, that had acquired a property  in Greece and whose  activity is not part of the normal activity of other companies (such as industrial, commercial, services, etc., with gross income from these activities greater than the gross income from the property), the Greek legislator introduced by Law 3091/2002 the liability of legal entities in general, that have full property rights or bare ownership or usufruct property in Greece, to pay a yearly special property tax (initially 3% on the value of property, which has been increased to 15% by Law 3842/2010). The Law provides for many cases of exemption from the obligation to pay the above-mentioned tax, that are related mainly to the nature of the activity of legal persons. Also, an exemption from this tax obligation is provided for companies that have their headquarters in Greece or another EU country and are usually: a) S.A. companies with registered shares to individual or S.A. companies that indicate the individuals who own their shares,  provided that those individuals have been awarded with a tax registration number in Greece, b) or  companies  with limited liability, if the shares are owned by individuals or if these companies declare the ultimate individuals who are owners of their shares, provided that these individuals have been awarded with a tax registration number in Greece.

Income from property rental is taxed  as a capital income by the following scale:

Income from property (€) Tax rate (%)
≤12.000 11%
>12.000 33%
Income from property (€)

(from 01.01.2017)

Tax rate (%)
0 – 12.000 15%
12.001 – 35.000 35%
>35.001 45%

Gross income from rental property is automatically charged with a percentage of 3.6% stamp duty (excluding the housing rentals)

Real Estate Investment Companies

Real Estate Investment companies are limited by shares companies (i.e. S.A companies), established with the sole aim to acquire and manage real estate property. Their minimum share capital is twenty five million euros (€25.000.000) at a minimum, fully payable upon establishment of the company. Prior to the issuance of permission for establishing a Real Estate Investment Company, permission by the Stock Market Commission is required. A similar permission is required in case an existing company is converted into a Real Estate Investment Company. For granting the establishment permission, the Stock Market Committee evaluates the investment plan, the organization, the company’s technical and financial assets, the reliability and experience of the individuals that are going to manage it and the suitability of the people establishing it, in order to ensure the good management of the company. The company has the obligation to invest its funds only in:

a) Real estate, at least 80% of its assets.

b) Deposits and stock market instruments, according to article 2 par. 14 of Law 3606/2007.

c) Other movables required for the company’s operational needs that, in addition to the real estate acquired by the company to service such needs, must not exceed ten percent (10%) of the asset value, at the time of acquisition.

The company must apply before the Athens Stock Market or other organized market for the listing of its shares within two (2) years of its establishment. In case of a conversion of an existing company into a real estate investment company, the obligatory filing of an application for listing the stock in an organized market must be effectuated within one (1) year from the end of the conversion procedure. The listing of the company’s shares is effectuated according to the provisions in force, regulating the listing of stock in Athens Stock Market S.A. or other organized market.

The company must pay annual dividends to its shareholders of at least fifty percent (50%) of its annual net profits. A lower percentage, or no percentage, may be distributed, following a decision by the general meeting, under the condition the company statutes include such a provision, either for the creation of an extraordinary non-taxable reserve fund made up of other earnings besides capital profit or for distributing free shares to the shareholders by increasing the share capital, according to the provisions of Codified Law 2190/1920.

It is prohibited to transfer company real estate property to company founders, shareholders, members of the board of directors, general managers or managers, their wives or blood and affinity relations up to the third degree of kinship. A real estate investment company may be converted into a real estate mutual fund, under certain conditions.

The stock issued by real estate investment companies, as well as the transfer of real estate to this company are exempt from any kind of tax, duty, stamp duty, contribution, right or any other charge in favor of the State, public legal entities or, in general, third parties. The exemption does not apply to the capital gain realized by the seller at the time of the sale of real estate to the R.E.I.C. The subsequent transfers of real estate by real estate investment companies are subject to the ordinary tax provisions (not exempt).

Real estate investment companies are exempt from income tax for the income created by securities in general, whether in Greece or abroad, except from dividends from Greece acquired by parties not subjected to tax deduction. Especially regarding the interest of bond loans, the exemption applies under the condition the titles that grant the interest in question were acquired at least thirty (30) days prior to the date set for cashing the interest. In case of a tax deduction on dividends, the deducted tax offset against the tax based on tax return of the real estate investment company within July. Any credit balance is transferred for offsetting in next tax returns. The payment of the above tax exhausts the tax liability.

Real estate investment companies must pay tax with a coefficient set at ten percent (10%) of the valid European Central Bank intervention rate (Interest Reference Rate) plus one (1) point, and is calculated on the average of the investments, plus the available funds, in current prices. In case of a change of the Interest Reference Rate, the new calculation value is valid as of the first day of the month following the change.  The tax is payable to the competent Tax Authority within the first fifteen days of the month following the period recorded in the bi-annual investment tables. Upon payment of the aforementioned tax, the company’s and shareholders’ tax obligations are exhausted.

The provisions of the beneficial Law 2166/1993 regarding the conversion of enterprises are also applicable for real estate investment companies, which: a) are established either by the merger of two or more companies that own real estate, or by the splitting-off or dilution of a company sector owning real estate, or b) acquire real estate, whether through merger by absorbing another company owning real estate or due to the splitting-off or dilution of a company sector owning real estate.