The Greek Golden Visa offers new Investment options

A Brief flashback on the Greek Golden Visa program

Back in the summer of 2013, the Greek Government has officially launched the residence-by-investment program which is broadly known as the Greek Golden Visa. During the first six years of the program’s operation, there was just one investment option available and that was the purchase of property or properties with a minimum value of 250,000 Euros. Last year, the Greek Government has introduced a number of alternative investment options that also lead to the acquisition of residence permits in Greece, adding more variety and flexibility to the program.

The Greek Golden Visa, up until now, offered a five-year residence permit for non-European citizens and their dependent family members that could be renewed after the aforesaid period by simply maintaining property investments that add up to the value of 250,000 Euros.

Despite the fact that the program had a slow start in the first years, in 2017 it made quite an impression and during 2019 it has hit its peak point. The fact that the investment amount is considered quite low compared to similar investment programs that provide residency in Europe has made the Greek program quite popular, especially during the last three years.

Taking a look at the statistics extracted from the official program’s website, Enterprise Greece it is obvious that the Golden Visa residence permits that were issued during the year 2018 alone were almost equivalent to the amount of permits issued during the initial three years of the program’s launching (2013-2016). In the year 2019, the same number has been almost doubled exceeding all expectations.

Total number of Residence Permits granted to investors through real estate acquisition per year in Greece

Enterprise Greece 06.07.2020

The above statistics, demonstrate the Greek residency-by-investment program’s continuous upward trend throughout the years which currently is ranked among Europe’s most advantageous and competitive investment migration programs.

Nowadays the program has been further improved and enhanced with even more options in terms of investment through intangible financial products to fit the plans and meet the needs of any investor.

Term deposits and other intangible investment options offered by the Greek Golden Visa program

More specifically the new financial options provided by the Greek Golden Visa program are the following:

  1. Capital contribution for the purchase of shares in a share capital increase or bonds with the contribution of capital of at least 400,000 euros when issuing a bond loan of undertakings with a registered office or establishment in Greece listed on the Greek stock exchange.
  2. Capital contribution of 400,000 euro at least to a real estate investment company, which invests exclusively in Greece for the acquisition of shares in the increase of the share capital.
  3. Capital contribution of at least EUR 400,000 to a venture capital company for the acquisition of shares or to a mutual venture capital for the acquisition of shares with a prerequisite to invest exclusively in companies with a registered office and/or establishment in Greece.
  4. Purchase of Greek government bonds with an acquisition cost of at least 400,000 euros and a residual duration at the time of purchase at least three years, through a credit institution established in Greece.
  5. Term-deposits of a minimum amount of EUR 400,000 at a Greek Credit Institution, of at least one-year duration, with a standing order for renewal.
  6. Purchase of shares, corporate bonds and/or bonds of the Greek state which are admitted to trading or already traded on the Greek stock exchange with an acquisition cost of at least EUR 800,000.
  7. Purchase of shares with an acquisition value of at least EUR 400,000 in a mutual fund which is incorporated in Greece or another country and invests exclusively in securities (shares and corporate bonds or bonds issued by the Greek state) imported for trading or already negotiated on the Greek stock market. The amount of the Fund's assets should be at least EUR 3 million.
  8. Purchase of units or shares with a minimum purchase value of EUR 400,000 of an Alternative Investments Fund established in Greece or another country of the European Union, intended to invest exclusively in immovable property in Greece

The addition of the above products has been introduced by the Greek Government since April 2019. Yet, as it usually happens with new products, it took some time for them to integrate with the program and become widely known to the professionals of the Investment Migration Industry as well as to the investors themselves.

The rules are the same as with real estate purchase. Once the financial investment is concluded the main applicant and any family members included in the application are granted a five-year residence permit in Greece which can be renewed after those five years indefinitely, as long as the investment is active.

Even now, fifteen months later, most of the above options are still “on the making” as their implementation framework is currently under development. Due also to the pandemic situation, there was a delay in clarifying the different points under which some of the intangible investments mentioned above can be realized.

That means that not all of the above options are actually “available” to potential investors. For example, we are still expecting from the bank institutions in Greece to formulate the framework for the government bonds scheme related to the Golden Visa. Hopefully it will soon be available to investors, however, for the time being, it is literally only on paper.

On the other hand there are available options which have already led to the acquisition of the Golden Visa residence permits and we are happy to be among the first professionals in Greece who have realized such alternative investments.

Such an example is the term-deposit of 400,000 euros (number five on the above list) which has been the most popular in demand during the past couple of months among the rest of the options. Having already realized such investment for some of our clients we are in a position to verify that it is a simple and straightforward procedure. As a matter of fact, the whole process can be concluded swiftly as it does not involve any third parties that can somehow prolong or delay the conclusion of the investment. Like for example in the case of the real estate purchase where various third parties are involved (e.g. sellers, real estate agents, civil engineers etc.) and it is only logical to expect a wider timeframe of conclusion.

The popularity of those intangible options is expected to rise in the near future as more of these options will become available to investors once the practical part of their realization is formulated and finalized by all related parties. From the enquiries so far it is apparent that the trending options are going to be mainly the fixed term-deposit and the acquisition of government bonds.

The majority of investors looking for a residency through investment in Greece are not yet familiar with these alternative options and they have associated in their minds the Greek Golden Visa with real estate purchase. That is only natural given the fact that Greece has traditionally been a country worth investing in and the Greek real estate market has numerous opportunities to offer for property investments.

It goes without saying that Real Estate has been and will continue to be the “king” among the investment options leading to the Golden Visa. However, the “king” now has some serious competitors and variety is always an element for the benefit of the investors.

Real Estate investment vs new financial options- Specifications and ROI analysis

Having more options is always a good thing but it can also be confusing for some investors. The key factor for the right choice lays on the investor’s personal goals, needs and expectations.

Therefore each one of these options has a different target group:

People who do not have enough time to spend for property searching or they are too busy to worry about the maintenance of a property abroad and wish more flexibility might choose the intangible investment option.

The annual Return on Investment (ROI) on property investment is currently on an average level of 4% while the corresponding ROI for term-deposits in Greece is quite low yet a positive one, fluctuating around 0.2%.

It is obvious that the investment amount in term deposits is higher than the real estate option and the ROI significantly lower, however, the whole process could be also concluded much faster as it does not include any third parties other than the bank.

On the other hand, buying real estate is much easier to understand than the value fluctuations of investment stocks or technical bond analysis. Real estate is a material asset, and it makes people feel more comfortable investing in it, compared to investing in stocks or bonds.

Evidently, the risk when investing in real estate is much lower than when you choose to invest in the stock market. Although in some cases the real estate investment has a lower return yet it is clearly a safer investment in the short and long term.

For many investors, this is a purely strategic move as Greece is a very popular tourist destination and they wish to gain return out of short-term or even long-term rentals through their property purchase. For others it’s the fulfilment of a life’s dream, to own a house in Greece either for their summer vacations or as their final residence when retirement comes.

And finally, there are those who are seeking for another home-country to start a new life and acknowledge that Greece has so much to offer to them in terms of natural environment, quality of life, political freedom, health and education benefits and hospitality.

Especially during this period, buying real estate in Greece can be a really good move as well. The COVID-19 impact is expected to drop property prices in specific categories of real estate, like apartments intended for short-term lease.

Furthermore, with the three-year suspension of the VAT that was announced by the Greek government last year in new real estate projects, more and more people are looking to buy brand new and even off-plan properties in Greece. It is obvious from the inquiries received, that this measure has been the trigger to convince even the most hesitant ones to go ahead with the property investment and take advantage of this unique opportunity in the Greek housing market.

This has given a significant boost to the real estate development industry. Construction has been blooming just a few months ago and this is indicative of the real estate market trends.

Taking the right decision - Greek Golden Visa through the New Financial Options or Traditional Real Estate Purchase?

To sum it up, it is a matter of personal goals and planning from the side of the investors to determine which option suits them better. If they want to apply faster or if they want more flexibility in terms of liquidation or if the idea of an overseas property is a headache for them, then one of the intangible investment options could be their match.

But if what they want is to have a stable return on their investment or if they are actually considering relocation in Greece or even a summer house in the Greek islands, then property purchase is the ideal option for them.

Either way the outcome is the same: Permanent residence permits for the main applicant and the dependent family members, renewable every five (5) years, with no minimum stay requirement in Greece and free access to the Schengen area.

In a world that is changing rapidly and demands for alternative solutions in all life aspects, the Greek Golden Visa program keeps evolving and offers those alternatives to fulfil any investment plan in one of the most beautiful countries around the globe.