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Greece Adjusts Golden Visa Scheme Amidst Real Estate Challenges

ATHENS, GREECE — In a significant move to regulate its real estate market, Greece has announced adjustments to its “Golden Visa” program, primarily in response to the influx of Chinese nationals buying property in exchange for residency rights. This program has become a popular channel for China’s affluent citizens looking to emigrate, contributing to a global trend known as “investment migration.”

The country has experienced a substantial increase in Chinese investors purchasing properties, leading to a severe housing crisis. Addressing this issue, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced plans to raise the minimum real estate investment for obtaining a Golden Visa from $269,491 to $862,372 in select areas. This decision aims to stimulate major investment while protecting the local housing market.

In an unusual display of unity, opposition leaders in the Greek parliament have endorsed this approach. They are pushing for measures to prevent foreign investors from exploiting the housing market, particularly in short-term rentals, which exacerbates the housing shortage for local residents.

A resident near the Acropolis, a prime location for tourists and a hotspot for investment migration, highlighted the difficulties in finding affordable housing due to the dominance of short-term tourist rentals. This situation has led to soaring rental prices, making it challenging for locals to find suitable accommodation.

Since the inception of the Golden Visa program in 2014, Greece has offered five-year renewable residence permits to foreigners in return for a significant property investment. Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of permits issued, with Chinese nationals constituting 80% of the recipients. Other significant applicants include Turks, Lebanese, and Israelis.

The new regulations for the Golden Visa will particularly affect properties in high-demand areas like central Athens and popular Greek islands such as Mykonos and Santorini, which are especially favored by Chinese investors. The Greek government’s move is seen as a way to balance attracting foreign investment while safeguarding the interests of its citizens in the face of a growing housing crisis.


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