The introduction of an innovative new investor visa is making changes to the real estate market for Greece.

In 2009, Greece was teetering on the edge of a financial black hole with the budget deficit hitting 12% of GDP. This was closely followed by a market tumble.

Austerity measures swept the nation and by 2011 it had to be granted a €120bn EU bailout which caused widespread panic.

For the past six years this economic disaster has persevered with the government working on numerous initiatives to get out of the seemingly endless slump.

And while its economy is still the worst performing within the EU, one initiative is helping get investors on board. Designed to attract investors who would be willing to buy property worth more than €250,000, the golden visa program in Greece gives people citizenship by investment.

This has already generated an income estimated to be over €1.1 billion as more than 2,000 residence permits have been granted to investors since 2013. More than 450 have been granted over the past 12 months.

And with the average cost per investor sitting at more than €550,000 it means those people are mostly acquiring large properties and luxury holiday houses which is transforming what will soon be on offer on the Greek real estate market.

Recent well-known buyers of luxurious homes on Greek islands include Israeli entrepreneur Teddy Sagi (owner of Camden Market in London) who bought a series of properties on Mykonos, according to estate agency sources.

Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris is also making waves in Greece as the buyer of two villas on the same island costing a total of some €11 million.

“Buyers from abroad are interested in sizable and luxurious properties, from 400 square meters upward, and at very favorable locations, as close to the sea as possible”, says Franceska Kalamara, the head of the Franceska Properties estate agency. “These are mostly individuals from Egypt, Lebanon and Israel, but also from the US, while there has recently been particular activity by Cypriot buyers.”

And while the reports from the Bank of Greece of funds invested in the Greek holiday home market remain low – due to sellers ask buyers to deposit the money in bank accounts abroad – it is a positive sign for the nation’s property market.

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