Spare airfield in Greece: the top 5 holders of the Greek “golden visa”
The Greek program for obtaining a residence permit in exchange for investment is one of the most profitable in Europe. To acquire resident status, it is enough to buy one or more real estate objects in Greece for a sum of 250 thousand euros or buy a hotel or tourist furnished apartments as part of a timeshare contract. In addition to the main applicant, a spouse, their parents and children under 21 receive a residence permit.
According to the information of the official agency of Greece, Enterprise Greece, from 2013 to 2017, Greece issued to investors 2.3 thousand “golden visas” (including family members – 5.7 thousand). Most of the investment residence permit received citizens of China, Russia, Turkey, Iraq and Lebanon – they account for 80% of visas issued.
Top 5 countries by number of received Greek gold visas
1. Investors from China
In the past few years, China has been actively expanding its presence in Greece: for example, in 2016, the Chinese company COSCO, one of the largest port operators in the world, acquired a 51% stake in the port of Piraeus for 280.5 million euros, and in June 2017, China’s National Grid Corporation (State Grid Corp. of China) has acquired a 24% stake in Greece’s state-owned power grid company ADMIE worth € 320 million. The active expansion of China in Greece is dictated by two factors: firstly, the cheapness of Greek assets, secondly, the geographical position of Greece: it is an important trading partner and a transit point for the “new silk route” between Europe and the Middle East.
Citizens of the People’s Republic of China are also leaders in the number of Greek “golden visas” received. According to Enterprise Greece, from 2013 to 2017, 1,011 investors from China became Greek residents, taking into account their family members – 2,525 people.
As the Institute of International Economic Relations (Institute of International Economics Relations) notes in the study “Chinese Investment in Greece and the Big Picture of Sino-Greek Relations” for 2017, Chinese applicants for Greek “golden visas” spend an average of 550–600 on real estate thousand euros, which is twice the minimum investment threshold for obtaining a residence permit.
According to the information of the portal Greek Guru, in China, citizens of the People’s Republic of China prefer new housing, located near beaches, shops, public transport stops and international schools.
2. Investors from Russia
According to Enterprise Greece, from 2013 to 2017, Greece issued 395 residence permits to Russian citizens for investments, including 907 family members. It is noteworthy that the majority of investors include only one family member in the application for a residence permit (on average, 4 investors from Russia account for only 5 family members). The share of Russian citizens of the total number of applicants is 16%.
According to Tranio statistics, Russian-speaking applicants for “golden visas” in Greece are mainly interested in residential real estate in Athens and Thessaloniki. According to experts of the company, metropolitan suburbs are also in demand (Varkiza, Voula, Vuliagmeni, Glyfada, Faliro), located 30-40 min drive from the center of Athens.
According to Tranio, the average budget of Russian-speaking buyers, aimed at obtaining a residence permit in Greece, is 250 thousand euros. Along with this country, customers often consider Spain, Cyprus and Portugal, where they can also obtain a residence permit when buying property.
3. Investors from Turkey
According to Enterprise Greece, in 2017, “golden visas” in Greece were received by 222 citizens of Turkey, taking into account family members — 547 people.
According to the Turkish edition of Hürriyet Daily News, among the Turkish recipients of the Greek “golden visa” there are almost no those who would actually move to Greece for permanent residence. Experts attribute this to the fact that Turkish citizens are acquiring a residence permit “in reserve”, in case of instability at home. According to the publication Deutsche Welle, the number of visits to Turkish versions of Greek websites for the sale of real estate has increased almost 10 times after the referendum on the expansion of presidential powers, which took place in Turkey on April 16, 2017.
Those citizens of Turkey who buy real estate in Athens, most often rent apartments or use them for recreation during holidays. According to the Turkish online publication Daily Sabah, the most popular types of real estate from Turkish buyers are luxury, resort real estate, shops, hotels, land, even parking. Many investors choose objects in prestigious areas of Athens: Kolonaki, Psychiko, Glyfada, Voula and Vouliagmeni.
According to the Greek portal Ekathermini, today the Turks are one of the most dynamic groups of property buyers in Greece, on a par with the British, Germans, French and Italians. Most of them – people with higher education, middle or high income, come from western Turkey, the Aegean coast and from Istanbul.
4. Investors from Iraq
During the validity of the Greek program until the end of 2017, Iraqi citizens received 266 “golden visas”, but only 69 of them fell on the main applicants. According to Enterprise Greece, Iraqis are more likely to get a residence permit for the whole family than the rest: for each investor.