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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 23 April 2016
20 THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 23 APRIL 2016 DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM Ten steps to buying property in Greece Doorsteps agency helps buyers in Greece identify property risks and make better decisions IRENE MARAGOS If you're thinking of buying a residence in Greece, this article sets out 10 essential must-knows when buying a home on Greek land, whether in a city, in the countryside or on an island. Often is the case that buyers are interested in Greek real estate but get put off in the process because, truth be told, it can be confusing and overwhelming. Step 1: Determine where you want to buy Perhaps there's an island you can see yourself living on. Or maybe you prefer a city or the mainland. The first step is to look at properties in your region(s) of interest. HomeGreekHome and XEproperty are two such sites that show you properties in every region across the country. Some key elements to consider are airport access, climate, distance to seaside, local cuisine, architectural preference, crowded versus isolated regions, health and wellbeing facilities, shopping districts, and other personal tastes. Step 2: Determine the market value You've found a home in the region of your interest and decided it meets your needs and caters to your likings. You’d like to make an offer. Next, it's important to understand that the listing price is different from the market price. What you see on the ad is the listing price which may or may not reflect the market price. Either way, if you know the market value of the residence you want to buy you'll be in a better position to negotiate. So, how do you find out the market value of your residence of interest? There are two ways. You can do your own research by comparing properties of similar profiles and draw your own conclusions. Or you can hire an independent valuer, which is the recommended way forward. At Doorsteps we offer a full market valuation report which includes the property's market value, a market analysis of the region and the most recent local data, all within 24 hours - for every property of interest and for a minimal fee. Step 3: Price negotiation Once you're well informed of the property's market value you will begin to negotiate on the price. You can do this yourself or hire a third, independent party to negotiate on your behalf. * Optional but strongly recommended: If you'd like to know the state and quality of the home you're considering buying, you can request an inspection report. An engineer will visit the property and inspect all exterior, interior, structure, electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems. Then they will draw up a report on the overall state of the home, raise your attention to any safety issues or necessary repairs and they will estimate the cost of any renovations, if needed. An inspection report will also put you in a better position to negotiate on price if the home is in need of fixtures which are not obvious to the naked eye. Step 4: Purchase agreement You've agreed on the price. Step four consists of draft- ing a pre-contract, otherwise known as a purchase agreement, which is not mandatory in Greece but highly recommended to protect the seller's and buyer's interests. What is a purchase agreement? It's a document that essentially removes the property from the listings, lets the seller know that the buyer is serious, and includes all the terms and conditions that must be respected throughout the purchase process. The buyer will need to hire a lawyer, at their own expense, to draft the purchase agreement. At this stage, anywhere between two to five per cent of the negotiated purchase price must be paid to the seller as a deposit, up front, which will then be deducted upon full transaction. If you don't know where to look for a lawyer start with the Greek embassy of your home country. Embassies have a list of qualified lawyers and professionals that you can liaise with. Or you can conduct your own research locally or online. Some clauses that must be incorporated in the purchase agreement are: - the property's title is free of any restrictions or liens otherwise the deposit will be returned to the buyer; - the timeline and next steps until purchase completion; - what happens to the deposit in case of non-compliance with the clauses in the purchase agreement or if the seller changes their mind. Step 5: Legal due diligence This is the buyer's responsibility. The lawyer that you hired in step four will go to the local land registry where all the title deeds of the area are kept on file. Here is where your lawyer will confirm if the property truthfully belongs to the seller and is free of any obligations such as loans, repossessions etc. An average fee to conduct a legal due diligence for an apartment in Athens is roughly €300-400 and is at the buyer's expense. Step 6: Technical due diligence While the legal due diligence is the buyer's respon- sibility, the technical due diligence is at the seller's expense. The seller must provide the buyer with copies of all updated topographic diagrams and architectural plans of the property. It is quite common for illegal building works to Greek properties to exist, such as prohibited extensions or added spaces that were never included in the initial architectural plans. Fortunately, the law prohibits properties with illegal building works to be sold and it is the seller's responsibility to make sure that his property's illegal additions, if any, have been settled at the local tax office. As mentioned, the technical due diligence is the seller's responsibility, but nonetheless it is advisable that the buyer hires an independent civil engineer to double check that all diagrams and plans are in order and that any illegal works have been successfully dealt with. A civil engineer will charge, on average, €200-300 to verify the property's technical documents. It's worth paying for peace of mind.
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