Corfu is certainly one of the most beautiful islands of Greece, as it combines natural landscape and a long cultural tradition. Unsurprisingly, many visitors decide to develop stronger ties with this place by purchasing a property on the island, either for personal or commercial reasons. If you are planning on purchasing a property in Corfu, you should have in mind some helpful information.
The whole procedure of purchase, may seem simple, but it needs attention and may become quite complex and time consuming, as many different issues need to be addressed: legal, notarial, tax, accounting and civil engineer’s. That’ s why the legal assistance from a trustful Lawyer is certainly recommended, as the lawyer is the professional, up-to-dated on all relevant legal and purchase matters. He undertakes and coordinates all the required actions and professional involved for a successful purchase of property. Moreover, thanks to his experience, the Lawyer may save precious time and resolve issues which will probably arise.
The purchase of a property could be divided into two stages:
a) The Pre-purchase Stage,
b) The Post Purchase Stage.
A. The Pre purchase Stage
- Legal check of the property: It is crucial to ensure that there are and will be no actual or legal obstacles to the purchase. This is a task for a Lawyer, who is auhtorised to undertake the relevant inspection of deeds and guarantee the legality of the procedure. Also, the Lawyer checks the regularity and legality of all the documents and certifications that the seller should bring (from tax authorities, engineer, insurance office etc) so as to sell his property. If any legal issue arise during inspection, an experienced Lawyer is able to resolve it and ensure that the purcahse will be completed quickly and effectively as possible, without any legal obstacles.
Greek T.I.N. (Tax Identification Number, the so called “A-Fi-Mi” in greek) : Before buying a property, it is necessary to have a Greek Tax Identification Number (T.I.N.). This can be done at the relevant authority either in person, or through a Lawyer, who is granted with the relevant power of attorney so as to represent the buyer before public authorities.
Greek bank account : It is also extremely useful (not obligatory) to have a greek bank account, not only in order to pay the price of the purchase, but mainly for future transactions, such as payment of contstruction, or utility bills (water, electricity etc), insurances etc. To open a greek bank account, a number of documents is required to prove personal information and details. A Lawyer, granted with a Power of Attorney, is able to untertake, open a bank bank account and arrange these payments.
After the above steps, the preparatory process has been completed and now one can proceed safely to the real estate market.The process of signing the contract is the most enjoyable stage of the whole course so far for all parties. It requires the transfer to the Notary, before whom the buyer, with the always support of his lawyer, may, if he so wishes, put his signature on the notarized document, in which he will acquire the property of his choice. Once the signing of the contract is completed, the buyer is now the legal and official owner of the property.
B. The Post purchase Stage
Since one owns a property, home, or plot, in Corfu, he shoud sort out his residency in Greece. Besides this, there are other administrative requirements that come with being a home owner. In this stage the Lawyer is needed to carry out the property-related affairs, monitor their development and arrange for their fast and efficient execution. More precisely:
- Update of accountant : Within 30 days after signing the purchase contract, one must inform his accountant in Greece to declare the purchase of the property to the tax authorities.
Utility bills : The new owner of the house has to transfer the electricity and water bills in his name. This is a simple, yet time-consuming process, which one may carry out either in person or, more easily, through his authorized attorney.
Annual tax of property owners: (“ENFIA” in greek) : This is an annual tax on the property, which is usually announced in the summer of each year. The amount of this tax depends on the location of your property, its size, the rights on it (ownership, usufruct), etc.
Foreign currency purchase certificate : It is obligatory to get this certification from the Greek bank that the account is opened and submit it directly to the accountant. This one may carry out either in person or, more easily, through his attorney.
Property insurance : Insuring your property is a wise move, even though it is not legally mandatory in Greece. It is recommended to insure privately the home and house contents and there is a wide variety of agencies to choose from. A Lawyer can guide, advice and represent you on this.
Family and inheritence issues : Finally, it is important to have in mind that, as time passes, many family and inheritance issues arise, or will arise in the future. For issues, such as inheritance, the drafting of a will or marital property in case of divorce, it is very important to contact with a Lawyer and get his legal advice and guidance, given that you have now acquired property in a country with different legal system from the country of your nationality.
To sum up, the procedure of purchasing a plot, land or house in Greece, is very pleasant, but it should be carefully organised and coordinated in every step. An able Lawyer, well-versed in matters of real estate, with a solid reputation, knows the identity and the history of the property you bought, the relevant procedures and the complex legislation, and keeps a close eye on every development. So he will ensure that your purchase will not have any unpleasant surprises. Ιn conclusion it is crucial to choose your legal representative as carefully as you would choose the home you are buying.