Chinese zero in on Greek real estate

Nikkei Asian Review — Greece’s Golden Visa program, launched in 2013, entitles individuals who invest more than 250,000 euros in real estate to five-year resident permits. This has helped lure Chinese,  hungry for overseas investments. Spouses and children under 21 are also entitled to the permits.

Chinese buyers, who account for 40% of the country’s total investment, are expected to boost property prices, buoying Greek’s sluggish economy.

A 34-year-old tour guide from Beijing purchased a 20-year-old, 150-sq.-meter room with a view of the Aegean Sea near Athens for 250,000 euros ($293,475), selling his property in China to cover the deal.

Greece, at the epicenter of the European debt crisis, fell heavily into debt after the window-dressing of its balance sheet was revealed. The country has been on financial life-support provided by the European Union and other organizations since 2010. In exchange, Athens has been forced to implement severe austerity measures, such as cutting the pensions and salaries of civil servants, prompting many to move their assets overseas.

The country is now banking on foreign capital to boost the economy. Because of this, Greece is thought to have the most lax requirements among European countries that have similar invest-for-residency schemes.


The permits can be renewed on condition of continued ownership. Because Greece is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement — under which there are no border controls between member nations — anyone with a Greek resident permit can travel freely through most of the EU and some other European countries.

Government data showed that 2,014 foreigners purchased properties under the Golden Visa program through September, with property investment and related income topping 1 billion euros. Issuance of the resident permits, including family members, is increasing yearly, reaching 1,567 in 2016, up 80% from 2014.

Through September, 850 Chinese bought properties and 2,091 Chinese obtained the permits, accounting for more than 40% in both categories.