The Greek government soon plans to increase the minimum amount that potential foreign property buyers must pay in areas with elevated rental prices in order to secure a Golden Visa, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Friday.
“We are discussing a further increase in the threshold for investment, which will cover all areas where there is significant pressure on rents,” Mitsotakis told lawmakers in Athens.
Greece has already doubled the amount needed to secure a Greek visa through property investment in popular destinations such as Athens and Thessaloniki as well as the islands of Mykonos and Santorini. In those places, investors must spend at least €500,000 ($540,000) to access the so-called "Golden Visa" program. In the rest of the country, the threshold is still €250,000 ($270,000).
While the premier didn’t specify the amount of the forthcoming increase, he said that in cities and islands where pressure on the housing market is acute, the threshold could increase to as much as €800,000 ($863,000). In areas where rents have remained stable, the amount could stay at €250,000.
Since the Golden Visa program was introduced in 2013, Greece has received more than 25,100 applications and granted 17,184 permits to buyers seeking to live in the country. Chinese investors accounted for almost 60% of all visas issued, followed by 7% of Turkish investors.
The program has boosted state revenues by “more than €2 billion since it started,” Mitsotakis said.
Residential property prices in Athens have skyrocketed over the past few years, thanks in part to foreign interest, the country’s rebounding economy and the low price points of the Golden Visa program. That in turn has led rental prices to increase. The price index for Greece’s capital city went up 11.9% in the third quarter of 2023 compared with the same period a year ago, according to Bank of Greece data. Previous quarters saw even higher increases.
Booming tourism has also made it harder for locals to find places to live, as landlords have turned to short-term leasing of their homes through platforms such as Airbnb. To get a handle on the situation, the government introduced a program last year that grants low- or no-interest loans to people younger than 39 who are seeking to acquire their first property.