More than 4,150 wealthy investors have become permanent residents of Greece through its popular golden visa program.
Introduced in 2013, the program offers a fast-track route to permanent residence in Greece through a minimum investment of €250,000 in real estate.
This investment immigration program has been a huge hit among Chinese, Russian and Turkish investors.
The actual number qualifying for Greek PR is significantly higher when dependent family members are included. Since 2013, around 11,500 individuals have qualified for the Greek golden visa.
Inexpensive Route to EU PR
Long processing delays stretching more than a decade in the US EB-5 program compelled Chinese investors to look for alternatives.
The Greek program is one of the cheapest offering permanent residence in the EU.
Greece is a member of the Schengen Agreement, which means an investor qualifying for PR in the country qualifies for visa-free travel and stay throughout the European Union.
Attractive Long-Term Investment Opportunity
Another factor contributing to high investor interest is the disastrous impact of the 2008 recession on the Greek economy and, particularly, its real estate sector.
Tourism is an important source of revenue for Greece and the prolonged economic downturn and consequent economic and political instability caused demand for accommodation for tourists to plummet.
While the downturn discouraged risk-averse short-term investors, very low real estate valuations presented an attractive opportunity for ambitious investors prepared to stay invested in Greek real estate over the long haul.
The introduction of the golden visa program in 2013 made real estate investments in Greece even more attractive since investors could now include EU permanent residence as one of the many benefits of buying a property in Greece.
Golden visa demand fuelled a slow but steady recovery in the country’s real estate sector.
Fears of a Real Estate Bubble
In fact, long-time residents of Athens have now begun complaining about mass evictions of tenants by golden visa investors seeking to convert residential properties into short-term Airbnb rentals.
Further, there are growing concerns, at least in the capital city, of home rentals surging to unaffordable levels for native Greeks.
Other investment options include purchase of government bonds issued by the Greek government, investments into Greek companies, or long-term deposits with Greek financial institutions. Yet, real estate, by far, remains the preferred option for golden visa investors.
Despite growing concerns, the Greek government continues to encourage foreign investments into the real estate sector, which only serves to further increase demand for the golden visa program.
Golden visa programs have long been under scrutiny of other EU member nations who fear inadequate due diligence and vetting may result in misuse of such programs for money laundering and other criminal activities.
Despite strident criticism and even calls by the European Parliament for termination of such programs, golden visas, including the Greek version, continue to flourish.General Information: Contact us to receive more information about this article.
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