Pack Up Your Bags: Greece Considers Re-Launching Its Golden Visa Program!
Real estate professionals in Greece are calling for a “rescue package” for 2020, hinting at the rapid restart of the Greece Golden Visa program to grant residence permits for foreign investors at the purchase of real estate worth at least 250,000 euros. The program has supported the Greek real estate market all these previous years.
The program has been in trouble in recent months due to delays in issuing permits, as the relevant services could not cope with the increased applications. The outbreak of the new coronavirus pandemic in China has put the Greece Golden Visa program on thin ice, as roughly 2/3 of the applicants are Chinese residents.
Corrective Measures to Take
As Undersecretary of Finance, Theodoros Skylakakis stated that attracting foreign investors especially through the Greece Golden Visa program is included in the government’s agenda for the gradual resumption of the economy from the beginning of May.
As a first step, it is expected that foreign investors will be able to apply for a residence permit by the agency of an attorney. Thus, the physical presence of the applicants will not be required for the issuance of a residence permit in the beginning stage.
“We want to accelerate the course of economic growth in the coming months, we’re keen to remove the bureaucratic obstacles that exist today in the real estate market,” said Mr. Skylakakis, speaking at a Prodexpo event organized online on Holy Wednesday.
Skylakakis said he expects the Greek market to revive again primarily due to Greece’s healthy management of the coronavirus crisis, its attractiveness as a popular tourist destination and its strong brand name in the EU. “Long-term investors in tourism will have an added incentive given that the prices will have dropped,” said Skylakakis. He also noted that special protocols will be considered to facilitate those who want to visit Greece in the coming months to invest in the real estate market.
Small Numbers are Expected for 2020
Regardless of any case, market professionals keep their expectations low for 2020. With 2019 marks the record for the Greece Golden Visa, the first estimates for this year spoke of investments around 800 million euros with 1 billion euros in the Greek real estate market from China. Now, if the investment reaches even 500 million €, it will be perceived as a success given the latest conditions.
According to the latest figures, in the first quarter of 2020, only 227 residence permits were issued to real estate investors. As of March 31, 7.414 residence permits have been issued, with almost 70% of them involving Chinese citizens. The Turkish investors follow with a big difference with 520 licenses and the Russians come third with 379 licenses.
As for the total number of residence permits issued – together with family members of the investors – a total of 22.103 permits have been issued by the end of March. Of these, 16.165 are granted to Chinese, 1.427 to Turks and 1.427 to Russians as well.