Greece’s special residence program for foreign investors has taken off, reflecting increasingly bright growth prospects as the country emerges from economic crisis and its growing importance as a gateway to the European Union. In the last year, the number of foreigners awarded a Greek Golden Visa has soared: rising by more than 40% from a year earlier.
Launched five years ago at the height of the country’s economic crisis, the Golden Visa program is now coming of age amid a new wave of investor interest, particularly from countries like China, Russia and Turkey. The reasons are several: from Greece’s sunny Mediterranean climate and high quality of life, to its low property prices. A budding economic recovery plays a role for some investors, for others its political uncertainty abroad. And since the law was revised in 2015, Greece’s Golden Visa has become still more attractive to foreign investors, comparing favorably with similar programs in countries like Cyprus or Portugal. A stepped up promotion program - in the last two years Enterprise Greece has showcased the program at trade fairs from Moscow to Beijing to Constantinople – has also helped.
Greece’s Golden Visa program grants a permanent residence permit – and access to 26 Schengen area countries - to individuals and their families who invest a minimum of €250,000 in Greece, such as in real estate or other productive investment. According to the latest data from end November, a total of 2,170 Golden Visas have been issued directly to foreign investors – and more than 5,000 including family members - up from 1,522 at the end of 2016.
After falling by as much as 50% from their pre-crisis peak, and with booming summer tourism buoying short-term rentals, Greek property prices now offer a highly attractive yield on investment, say industry experts. That has drawn investors from China, who now account for almost half of Golden Visa holders.
But another reason is Greece’s political stability and EU membership. In the past year, nationals from several neighboring Mediterranean countries – most notably Turkey – have also been buying up Greek real estate, lured both by the access to the EU that a Golden Visa offers, as well as to diversify their holdings away from an uncertain climate in their home country.
Source: Enterprise Greece
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Ioannis Valmas is a Greek Lawyer, trial Attorney and Managing Partner at Valmas Associates.