Covid-19 brought an abrupt halt to strong momentum in Greece's Golden Visa program, according to the latest data on new residence permits and real estate transfers.
The travel ban and economic problems caused by the lockdown in most countries, as well as the uncertainty for the next day, pulled the brake on real estate investment in our country. A market that up until recently was very promising, especially due to Chinese buyers, as Chinese investments via the Golden Visa program at the beginning of the year was estimated to be worth at least 1 billion euros.
According to May data, real estate transfers with residence permits reached 7,550, from 7,279 at the end of 2019, showing an increase of 271 residence permits in almost five months, while throughout 2019 3,172 permits were granted. This is a sharp drop in applications for the Golden Visa, showing that the program has come to a standstill.
In the two months since the last data was published, a period that coincides with the outbreak of the pandemic, residence permits have increased by only 136, reaching 7,414 in March. At the same time, total residence permits for first-degree relatives of those who invest in real estate through the program in Greece reached 22,505, compared with 22,103 at the end of March.
Since the beginning of the program, 5,504 investors out of a total of 7,550 (73 percent of the total), where Chinese while Turkish investments have remained stable at 1,416, followed by Russians with 519 purchases.
Market officials point out that, although demand from the Chinese is seen as eventually recovering, the Greek market will not be unscathed. One of the fears is that Chinese authorities, to boost the local economy, will impose new restrictions on foreign investments.
Greece is planning to announce legislative initiatives to the Golden Visa, to strengthen the real estate market with the aim of regenerating it, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said recently. According to the minister, legislative changes will soon be announced (starting June-July) that will make the Golden Visa program even easier.
The bill will update the legal framework on conditions regarding the issuing of Golden Visa permits and is part of an overall plan to restart the Greek economy, especially in the real estate market. Residence permits will now be granted to third-country nationals as long as the interested parties can prove that they have sufficient resources (fixed annual income) to cover living expenses.
Under the new provisions, investors from third countries will have to pay in full the minimum of 250,000-euro investment before applying for a legal residence permit, among other changes.