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Be vigilant when buying in Greece

Discussion in 'Buying Overseas Property' started by rosetta, Jun 23, 2008.

  1. rosetta

    rosetta New Member

    This story concerns a British lady who was born in Greece and bought a piece of land in Artemis, East Attica in order to build a holiday home. Unfortunately she became disabled and could not travel to Greece so decided to sell the land. Upon enquiring at the local town hall she spoke to various people, all of whom wanted to help her but one needed her power of attorney so he could act for her, another wanted to build a house cheaply for her and a further person told her the land was on the "city plan" but the manager of the town hall refused to sign the necessary document because allegedly he knew the neighbours who wanted the land for nothing. Although the land was offered for sale, anyone coming to view was told by the neighbours they owned it. A British solicitor sent a letter to these people warning them to stop, but they ignored it. Various people were contacted including the Greek Ombudsman and the Prime Minister, but the only thing we were told was to get a solicitor. The last straw was in a recent telephone call from the mayor of Artemis saying "you will never get your land". Because the person owning the land is a pensioner and cannot afford to pay 750 euros in advance with no guarantee of success, she cannot engage a Greek solicitor. She cannot go to Greece to see what is happening and no-one wants to help her unless they receive a hand-out. Apparently Greece is trying to encourage people to invest in land. That is fine if you don't want to sell it and if you understand the Greek language, otherwise don't bother it's not worth all the hassle.
  2. Epsilon

    Epsilon New Member

    Buying Land in Greece

    In answer to Rosetta's story this is a sad situation but this does not apply to all areas of Greece. I am from the UK and working in the real estate business in a small family firm on the island of Rhodes. Due to the occupation of the Italians many years ago on the island, all land on Rhodes has been registered so there is legal documentation available to prove who owns what on the island for all land and property. In addition, if you work with a reliable agent, and there are some around including those I work for, they will assist you with the whole purchasing process using an experienced team of personnel including accountants, lawyers, notaries and so on to ensure that you can find your way through the Greek system. So please don't be worried ... buying/selling your dream property/land is possible without problems.
  3. jessicatam

    jessicatam New Member

    That sounds like a terrible story. If the lady was born in Greece, does she know people over there that she could get to act on her behalf?
  4. I appreciate that the lady concerned is a pensioner, but if legal advice is what she needs (and it appears here that it is the only way forward) then surely in the long term €750 is a small price to pay rather than loose the land, or be unable to sell it. if the solicitor can do their job, and push forward the sale of the land, then the €750 will have been worth it.

    no solicitor can guarantee an outcome, however most will be able to advise you on the strength of your case. Most - though not all - will give you a first consultation free of charge. So it would be worth speaking to a few and getting a few opinions on what the recommended course of action would be, and what the expected outcome would be, and the estimated final costs.

    And finally, sorry to be picky here, but if she bought the land initially to build a holiday home, and now cannot, then the money for the building costs has not been used. can this money not be used to engage a solicitor? I appreciate she is a pensioner, but she had enough money to buy the land, and initially had enough money to plan on building a holiday home (which I am assuming she would have visited regularly, thus meaning that she was financially stable enough to afford the flights also) so how have her circumstances changed so dramatically that she cannot afford €750 to get legal help? this would be less than the price of a couple of flights to the island to her holiday home, had it been built!
  5. rosetta

    rosetta New Member

    I see you are an estate agent selling property in Turkey so have you had dealings with the local authorities in Greece. When the land was originally bought, the area (then called Loutsa) was only just being developed so the cost was not very high. No money was set aside to build a property because it was not considered essential. I would very much like to know any Greek solicitors who give a first consultation for free. In my experience 750 euros is the minumum they charge just to look at the case, thereafter they cannot say how long it will take or how much the final fee will be. I can assure you, we have explored every avenue to resolve this matter.
  6. yes I am an EA in Turkey, but I have a good friend who bought in Greece about 8 years ago - they had a problem similar to your friend, as in there was a dispute regarding land ownership when they eventually were ready to build. They consulted several solicitors to get a general consensus of the way forward - most charged nothing for a general chat, and some charged about £20 old irish pounds. She picked one of the solicitors to look after the case. They ended up paying about £1000 old irish pounds at the time, and it took 2 years, but they did win. This was in rhodes however, so perhaps solicitors are more apporachable there?

    I am confused on one point however. firstly you said:
    then you said later:
    sorry if i misunderstood, but from your original post it looked as though the land was bought with the intention of building a holiday home, all I was suggesting was that some of the money intended for the buld now be spent on a solicitor to try to resolve the situation rather than perhaps loose the land. for some reason this seems to have ofended you, but I can't for the life of me understand why, as based upon your original post I thought it was a fair comment.

    Have you visited the Brisith consulate site and searched for a solicitor in Greece who is recognised by them? or perhaps search for companies with a Greek branch - not sure if this is possible, so don't jump down my throat again, but there are British solicitors with turkish offices and solicitors familiar with Turkish law, so there may be solicitors fitting the same bill regarding Greece. If this is true then a phone call to them to arrange a consultation in the UK would be considerably less than €750, and may even be free.
  7. rosetta

    rosetta New Member

    Sorry, I didn't mean it jump down your throat and thanks for the info regarding your friend. I think there are different rules in Rhodes than on the mainland where one of the problems is the number of land registration offices, most of which are private companies. It's not like the U.K. where we have the land registry for everyone. The lady who owns the land cannot fly to Greece at the moment due to illness and I am having to try to sort this out. As you deal in a foreign country you probably know how difficult it is if you can't speak or write the language. I have contacted the British consulate and they provided a list of English speaking lawyers but none was willing to look at the case for nothing. Maybe it's a tricky one and they don't want to get involved. Anyway, thanks for your interest and sorry again for my abrupt message.
  8. no problem - the stress of dealing with a property problem can make anyone a bit jumpy! I do it as a profession and i still get stressed, so I can imagine when you are trying to sort something out on someone else's behalf it must be particularly frustrating not to get a straight answer and support.

    Good luck with it anyway, and if you do have any luck or headway post and let us know- I am sure that there are plenty of people who have invested or are thinking of Greece as an investment, and your advice would probably help them.

    i hope it gets sorted.
  9. VERGIS92

    VERGIS92 New Member

    I cannot comment on this case but being in the real estate sales business in greece I know for a fact that many small estate agents are corrupted as are their
    lawyers, one moment you may be sold a seemingly legitimate land plot only
    to have the archeology and the ministry of culture come onto you disputing
    the legitimacy of your documents..... stop you from bulding and nobody helps you recover your money

    I mean look at what is happening with burnt forest areas, they developers
    will bribe anyone to build on this land illegally

    my advice? Don't buy from non-certified constructors, agents

    The ones I work for are strictly regulated, independently certified big constructors
    who don't need to do such third world scams for a quick profit

    They even check rich clients proof of income to ensure it doesn't come from illegal activities
    The spanish property market is even worse and bought mostly by dirty money and they too are bringing about
    significant changes, though they openly welcomed dirty money they did tax it at higher rates

    Because Greece is more or less the 'Columbia' of Europe, state regulation is not existent
    and corruption is of unbelievable proportions
  10. jessicatam

    jessicatam New Member

    What sort of certifications would it be good to look for, when dealing with Greece?

    It's pretty easy to claim you're certified, and make up something fancy sounding, and the average person looking for a holiday home wouldn't know if the certification was genuine or not.
  11. VERGIS92

    VERGIS92 New Member

    All estate agents are licensed but some are cowboy builders or run
    illegal scams on desputed land,
    The serious ones stay with you after the sale, the house is bult according to
    international standards, offer a guaranty and insurance, what is very obvious
    at a glance is the size of the company, small agents and construction companies
    cannot afford to hire all these financial/legal advisors and just refer you to someone else,
    I think there's some ISO code they have, ISO 9001 2000, but when you decide
    to buy/shop around you will need a lawer, he is the best in determining the status
    of the company,
    most misleading ads come from these joker , small agents promising excessive
    growth like 20%, limited time offers, they usually over rate Crete and Greece
    without mentioning the down sides at all,

    my clients always work with offers, they are given various offers from several
    agents, and they choose on free will, don't let anyone hurry you or make you
    commit to buying while on viewing trip, in fact avoid viewing trip ofers alltogether!
    one company I represent offers trips but I disagree with this technique
  12. VERGIS92

    VERGIS92 New Member

    For Clients from the UK it is highly reccomended to find a solicitor through the
    british embassy in athens, it will be a greek speaking, certified solicitor,
    then they will come to view the property together and go through the buying process or the solicitor comes on his own if he is granted power of atterney
    by the client, the solicitor is the first thing to get right
    people who bought troubled properties wouldn't have done so had they
    used a good solicitor recomended by their embassy in the first place,

    don't try to save money on Solicitors-accountants it will cost you more
    eventually, always get the best
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