A new situation has been ushered in by the changes made to the Golden Visa investment migration program coupled with the geopolitical developments in Greece’s neighborhood, with data revealing that one in two foreign buyers now purchase Greek real estate as an investment and one in five to live in themselves. That Greece’s real estate market continues to attract capital from third countries is indicative of the considerable global interest, with the Greek economy receiving 1.102 billion Euro from abroad in the first half of 2023.

A survey conducted by the RE/MAX Hellas real estate network confirms that foreign investors continue to prefer the Greek real estate market, and that many move to the Eastern Mediterranean nation permanently after their retirement. Specifically, from the data obtained from nationwide property sales and purchases made through RE/MAX’s 81 offices last year, it emerges that:

  • Israel accounts for more foreign buyers than any other country
  • 4 out of 10 buyers are in the 40–50 age bracket
  • 3 out of 10 properties purchased were valued at 100,000 Euros or less
  • Apartments are the most popular purchase option (46%).

Israel is followed by China and Germany, with Bulgaria and Turkey completing the top five countries of origin for purchasers. Significant purchases were also recorded by buyers from Italy, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Breakdown by region

Regarding the geographical distribution of the investments made, there was strong demand in Northern Greece from buyers based in Germany, Bulgaria, Serbia and Turkey, while the majority of purchases in Southern Greece were made by citizens of Israel, China, Germany and Lebanon. On the Ionian islands, there was considerable interest from British, German and Dutch buyers, while on Crete the majority of property purchasers were from Israel, Germany, the UK and France.

Attica has emerged as something of an exception, with China in first place and Israel in second, followed by France, Germany and the UK. Significant purchases were also made by citizens of Middle Eastern nations (the UAE, Lebanon, Iran, Syria, Lebanon) and Turkey.

Property value and investment aims

According to the detailed documentation on the properties purchased by foreign buyers, 33% were valued at 100,000 euros or less. In all, 27% of the properties were valued at between 100,001 and 200,000 euros, while 28% were purchased for between 200,001 and 300,000 euros. The most expensive properties, those worth over 300,001 euros, accounted for just 12% of total purchases. Real estate in Greece remains a safe investment option, with one in every two purchases made as an investment (49%). The next most preferred category is holiday homes (22%) followed by owner-occupation (20%).

The Golden Visa program in detail

According to the data provided to To VIMA by the Hellenic Ministry of Immigration and Asylum, in the first nine months of 2023, 6,199 applications were made to the Golden Visa program (7,541 if renewal applications are included). This compares with 4,485 applications (5,891 including renewals) in the whole of 2022. That the number of applications soared from 336 applications in September 2022 to 707 in the same month this year is indicative of the level of interest. In fact, of the 23,963 applications made in total since 2018 (new and renewals), almost half (10,750) were submitted between September 2022 and September 2023.

Chinese domination

At the same time, two out of three permits issued under the program have been to Chinese investors (61.2%), followed by Turkish (6.3%) and Lebanese (5.1%) applicants. The top five nations in terms of Golden Visa permits issued is completed by Iran (3.1%) and the United Kingdom (2.9%). The top ten would include Russia (2.9%), Egypt (2.8%), the US (2.2%), Israel (1.4%) and Ukraine (0.9%). Investors from other nationalities account for 11.1%. In the past, Russian investors topped the list of applicants, but their share has dropped significantly following the imposition of sanctions over the war in Ukraine.