Sun, Sea and Residence Permits Luring Investors to Greek Property Market


While the Golden Visa program is the prime motivator for some investors, for others the desire to own property in the country goes deeper.

The phrase “hen fangbian,” which means “very convenient,” is one of the most common in China. It is used daily, as convenience has become the number one virtue of everyday life. All transactions in the country are now made by mobile phone, using the WeChat and Alipay applications, something that is “very convenient.” So, what is it that makes someone from the other side of the world decide to up and move to this little corner of the map, where, among other things, nothing is easy or simple, but instead hassle is part of everyday life – the opposite of the Chinese saying? Perhaps we should ask ourselves this question, as the Chinese, Russians, Americans, Turks and others who decide tobuy a home and settle here, seem to see something in our country that we have become so accustomed to we don’t even notice it. Daphne Korombeli is a lawyer who lives between Hong Kong, Shanghai and Athens, represents Chinese firms and offers services to Chinese investors who want to acquire a Greek residence permit by buying property. “The Chinese love Greece,” she tells Kathimerini. “For some it is a real life dream to travel to Santorini and see the ‘sea of love,’ as they call the Aegean.” The investment opportunities in our country have brought this dream closer, and quite a few of them have decided to move here permanently after buying their property. “They like the weather, the clean air, the blue sky, the fruit and vegetables bursting with flavor. Imagine that when you wake up in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Chengdu, the first thing you do is open the application that reveals the daily pollution index and whether you should or should not leave the house, if you should or shouldn’t open the windows, if it’s a particularly dangerous day for vulnerable groups to be outside,” she explains.

According to Korombeli, the prices in Greece are a world away from those in China. A 100-square meter apartment in a compound in Shanghai’s Jing’an District or a refurbished lane house apartment in the traditional Former French Concession can cost close to a million euros. The Golden Visa program has gradually attracted huge interest. “In 2013, when the law was introduced, the real buyers were few and far between. I remember when my first Chinese customer came with me to Athens to sign a power of attorney in September and, when her property was bought, I went to the relevant state service to submit her application for a residence permit and the employee didn’t know what I was talking about. The manager then told me that this was the first residence permit that had been issued under this law. Today things have completely changed. The increase in interest is gradual and apparent every year,” she says. Those who express interest are mainly businesspeople who have the money to invest and already have companies outside of China. The Golden Visa is the number one reason for their investment as Greece’s residence program is the cheapest in Europe – and gradually also becoming the most popular. Investors are buying property mainly near the sea, “even though they do not like swimming or sitting under the sun,” Korombeli says.

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