Greece Golden Visa Program 2024 Landscape
In 2023, the minimum property investment for the Greece Golden Visa program has doubled to €500,000 in 36 municipalities, including popular areas like the country capital Athens, the district capital, Thessaloniki, and the islands of Santorini and Mykonos. However, the continued interest from high net-worth investors in the Greek Golden Visa has led the government to contemplate increasing the minimum amount even further. The initial increase was mainly visible in the main areas of Athens, where the Golden Visa through Real Estate Investment was highly sought. However, the €250,000 option still applies in some suburban areas of Athens and Thessaloniki.
Foreign investors seeking the European Union passport have been acquiring multiple properties in those zones and making a profitable investment by converting them into short-term rentals. With Athens being one of the main tourist destinations in the world, the city became a spotlight for Real Estate Investors.
Greek Government Planning to Raise the Golden Visa to €800,000
On February 9th, the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, confirmed the government's plan to raise the minimum investment requirement for the Golden Visa through real estate purchases in areas facing significant rental pressure. Responding to socialist opposition proposals, Mitsotakis rejected claims that the Golden Visa program was the main contributor to rising real estate prices, stating that only 7% of sales over the past two years involved Golden Visas. However, he acknowledged concerns about concentrated investments affecting affordability and revealed plans to increase the current threshold of €500,000 in high-demand areas to €800,000.
The government is considering keeping the lower limit of €250,000 for areas with no housing pressure. The Greek Prime Minister expressed interest in the opposition's suggestion to obligate Golden Visa investors to engage in long-term rentals and stated that further government intervention would align with larger-scale investments that do not compete with average apartments for residents.
This February 9th announcement comes as a follow-up from January 31st when the Greek Minister for National Economy and Finance, Kostis Hatzidakis, informed the government's plan to raise the minimum investment requirements for the Greece Golden Visa. The difference is that the earlier news stated that the Golden Visa would have a nationwide increase to €500,000 instead of €800,000 for some areas. The objective is to encourage more substantial investments and control the escalating demand. With the February 9th statement, it became clear that Greece is mirroring what happened with the Portugal Golden Visa in 2022, with indications of exemptions for properties within the cultural or historic heritage in need of renovation or where the population density is lower, keeping the threshold at €250,000.
New Price Zones for the Greece Golden Visa Being Discussed
According to Greek media published on February 22nd, the Greece Golden Visa will have, in fact, 3 price zones. Yet, nothing has been officially announced by the Greek Government as of yet. The specialized media claims that three zones will be created alongside the price increase.
The three zones will be categorized as Zone A, B, and C. For each Zone, a different price and requirement will be established. According to current hearsay, Zone A will be established at €800,000 and will cover hotspots for the Golden Visa, such as the northern parts of Attica, the capital city Athens, central Thessaloniki, and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. The report also suggests that Zone A might be extended to Crete, the Cyclades, and the Dodecanese islands.
Meanwhile, Zone B will have a price fixed at €400,000–€500,000, an increase from the current €250,000. This minimum investment will probably be increased, considering these areas witnessed an increase in international attention, following the 2023 changes to the Greece Golden Visa. This zone is likely to cover the Athens port area of Piraeus, the western suburbs of Athens, and northern and eastern suburbs including Gerakas, Ekali, and Markopoulo, among others.
Lastly, Zone C will keep the current price of €250,000, and it will probably be reserved for municipalities with low appeal to affluent international buyers seeking properties. Although the price is reduced, those areas do not have a big real estate appeal, due to the difficulty of renting and reselling the property after the Golden Visa investment is completed.
Greece vs. Portugal Golden Visa
Greece Golden Visa Policy to Impact the Real Estate Market
The pressure on the government to address rising property prices, partially blamed on the Greece Golden Visa has increased in recent months. In response, one of Greece's main opposition parties, PASOK, called for the end of the program. Despite the concerns, the Golden Visa program witnessed a record year in 2023, becoming the world's most applied-to Residency by investment programs.
Even after the minimum real estate investment doubled in high-demand municipalities, application volumes have remained consistently elevated. Monthly applications suggest that demand is influenced by factors beyond price alone. Factors such as the end of the Portugal Golden Visa through Real Estate might be contributing to the sustained interest in the Greek program.
However, the popularity of the Golden Visa has led to a substantial backlog, reaching an all-time high of nearly 28,000 pending applications in December. Greece's decentralized immigration authorities still struggle to keep up with the rising application volume each month, despite increases in processing capacity.
The backlog, focused especially on the Attica region, where Athens is located, highlights the challenges faced by the Greek government in managing the program's success.
Top Nationalities Applying for the Greece Golden Visa
In the same vein as the Portugal Golden Visa, Chinese nationals also dominate the Greece Golden Visa program, representing 6 in 10 of the currently valid visas. Americans, Israelis, Turks, Lebanese, and Egyptians also contribute significantly to the program's diversity. In December alone, Greece approved 57 initial visas for Chinese nationals, indicating the program’s continued appeal among different nationalities. As Greece wrestles with the implications of its immensely popular Golden Visa program, the government faces the delicate task of balancing foreign investment, historic preservation, and the residents’ concerns. The proposed increase in minimum investment thresholds reflects an effort to strike this balance, redirecting funds to listed properties in need while addressing the challenges posed by soaring demand.
The Greece Golden Visa program remains active for third-country nationals through real estate purchases, being one of the most profitable Residency by Investment programs in the world. As the country continues to be a beacon for wealthy individuals seeking European Residency, the evolution of the Golden Visa program will undoubtedly shape Greece's real estate landscape in the years to come.