Personal experience: buy a townhouse in the suburb of Thessaloniki, Greece

Muscovite Irina and her husband decided to buy a house in Greece. They have a lot of time vacationing in the country; know its features, thought through all of the requirements for the project, decided on the budget, so the purchase itself should not cause any difficulties. In fact, everything turned out differently...

Buyer: Irina from Moscow
Agent: Real Estate Services – Property in Greece
Region: Greece, Halkidiki
Object: Townhouse, 160 m² with parking space
Price: € 300,000
The deal: buying on the secondary market in December 2013

* We had decided that we wanted to meet the budget € 120 000-150 000. We started to see properties with a representative of the real estate company, and at some point realized that houses with this money would not satisfy our expectations
*Authorized representative from real estate agency opened in my name in a Greek bank account, to which I transferred an advance payment. When we got back to Greece, they took money from my account by check only at the conclusion of the preliminary contract gave it to the seller.
* All additional costs for registration of the contract, re-registration documents for housing and utilities cost us € 1000.

- How was your deal?

- I'll start from the beginning. For us the choice of Greece was the saturation solution. My husband and I have been there a few times on vacation, we liked it. Of course, we were attracted by the fact that it is a European Union country, which is part of the Schengen Agreement, in addition, theOrthodox country and is close to us in spirit and culture. We chose Halkidiki because there are direct regular flights to Thessaloniki. In addition, any part of Halkidiki can be reached within two hours by car. The first difficulties we faced when we started to see the selecting houses that meet the budget € 120 000-150 000. Nothing could satisfy us, so we decided to increase budget.

- Are you tried to find houses yourselves or used the services of the Real Estate agency?

- First, we decided to just go in Halkidiki, there has to find companies that can show us something. Then we think for almost a year what to buy. However, I have previously studied the options on the Internet, and there looked after the two companies. Among them was Real Estate Services – Property in Greece, which we eventually liked more, and we started with them.

We had decided that we wanted to meet the budget € 120 000-150 000. We started to see properties with a representative of the real estate company, and at some point realized that houses with this money would not satisfy our expectations. We increased the budget up to € 170 000-180 000, and still could not find what we would have liked.

- Do you have specific requirements for the project?

- we wanted separate house or detached house. I did not want the house to be standing somewhere separately, we needed a property in a residential complex. In these usually have a protected area and a special staff workers: electricians, plumbers, cleaners. With this once liberated from worries about the care of the house.

My husband did not want to live next to some lively settlement, he immediately said, "I would be somewhere away from people." This was the difficulty, but the proximity of infrastructure was not so important, we are ready to travel by car. For me, the main point was the first line to the sea, direct sea view, picturesque area.

I was willing to buy even smaller house, but in a better place with a better view, but my husband did not care about this, his idea was to have a spacious house. We drove, drove, drove around Halkidiki with Angelos but could not be found. Of course, good view, first line, gates community is always costs  more. As a result, my husband decided that we would look for more expensive houses.

- And what do not you like the options that are offered to you?

- They are a very small and incommodious with very small rooms. We started to figure out that our children, friends and relatives can come and it will not be comfortable to stay there. This is despite the fact that all the offers had three bedrooms. My husband is a high person, he really feels uncomfortable in that cages. But, there were no claims to the quality of the properties.

- Did you see newly built houses or also secondary resale offers?

- First, they wanted a new building, but then realized that there will be a lot of issues with finalizinf the house. You will need to do some repair, to furnish, you have to hire people all these extra jobs etc. Therefore we began to look for the "secondary" and already furnished options. Eventually found our spacious townhouse on the outskirts of Thessaloniki. It stands at a short distance from the clean water, but on the hill, with wonderful sea view.

- Do you have time to do all in one trip?

- We came for two weeks to rest and actually we spent all the time in search. We Viewed houses for about a week. The agent showed his best side. Always strictly followed our requirements and trying to find new offers, when he brought us to each new house he immediately asked what did not suit us there. And then he proposed The following options taking into account our previous comments.

After the selection was made, we faced the payment issue. The Seller want us to leave a prepayment of € 30,000 and then began to prepare the transaction. But I did not like the idea to transfer to a completely unknown man in Greece, a serious amount of money. We found another option. In the first trip we made prepaid contract, it was legally assured by notary. At this time, I gave power of attorney to a representative of the agency and he opened bank account in Greece to my name, to which I transferred an advance payment. Our lawyer checked the purity of the future deal, whether any encumbrances on the property. The seller was very interested in this, so all did and did not take us any additional money. After that we went back to Greece, i took money from my account and gave the check to the seller after notary pre-contact was signed.

- What about Seller? Wasn’t he afraid that you will give up the deal at the last moment as you didn’t give a prepayment? .

- He was against it, but we have set our terms and conditions and finally he agreed. It was pretty quick: we came to choose options in September and arrived to made the first payment at the end of October. The rest payment I made after final contact was. My personal advice is not to bring money "in the pockets". All the amounts must be transferred to Greece officially by bank. After all, when you pay the purchase you'll have to prove the legal origin of your money, otherwise the transaction can not take place. If they passed through official bank, then there is no problem.

- Did you gain other benefits from expensive purchase brought besides joy?

- When you are not EU citizenship and you bought a townhouse for € 300,000, you will automatically receive the right to apply for residence permit in Greece. You probably know that it is enough even € 250 000. Initially, we were looking for a good accommodation for ourselves to relax, so the residence was a pleasant addition. A lawyer who accompanied all the deal, helped us with the documents, consulted on all issues, so we got a residence permit by the end of August. Without this help, of course, the process would be delayed.

The agent was willing to consult us after purchase. With his participation, we extended a contracts for utilities (electricity, water, etc.), and without the knowledge of the language is not so easy.

- Did You use the services of an interpreter for the transaction, any other additional costs?

 - Very small. I do not remember the exact numbers, but all the rest cost us about € 1000. But as I mentions before we don’t have anything to spend money for, as the house was completely ready for life. Of course, we made some small changes, but it worth a penny.

- How do you pay your utility bills?

- Money that is charged for water twice per year is very few. We can have a bill on e-mail, go to the bank and paid. As for the electricity, our real estate agent made us automatically made payments from our bank account, we just need to monitor if its sufficient balance of the bank account to pay the bill. The common expenses of condominium is about € 1000 per year.

- Pls Tell us about your townhouse?

- On the ground floor there is a living room with kitchen and bathroom with bath (usually shower) on the second floor are two bedrooms and on the third (attic) is a large master bedroom with en-suite bathroom and big veranda. Each floor has a separate shower and wc.

-Were there only furniture or appliances, too?

- we bought washing machine and microwave ourselves. All the rest has been equipped. If someone has a desire to update the equipment, there are big retail chains in Thessaloniki/

- Did You change anything? And what is the reason, it was relatively new, or after the former owner left in a perfect condition?

- Most recent. We bought a house from the Greek family, who did not rent it, but just rest there in the summer. In the summer, the locals spent time by the sea mainly in August, all the rest tine  the houses are empty. So the house was in a very good condition.

- It is evident that you are satisfied with the purchase, we do not have absolutely no downsides?

- Honestly, my husband, when he first came to rest after the purchase, literally looked for disadvantages but could not find. But generally Halkidiki is a big plus: long sunny summer, but not so sweltering heat as in Turkey. With our age, the high temperatures are carried heavier. So the local climate for adults is almost perfect.

Interviewed by Catherine Kholodov
Photo: Marina Matsipura

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