Brits In Crete Impartial Property Buying Advice
Crete Property Tips and Information
Over the past 10 years or so, it has become "de riguer" to pack up in the UK and Ireland, buy a property in Crete and move into a dream location in the sunnier Mediterranean climate of Greece and its biggest island, Crete of course . Inspired and encouraged by some of the dedicated TV programmes such as "No Going Back" and "A Place in the Sun", the British and the Irish have relocated in their thousands to warm and welcoming traditions. Did they all take good buying advice?
You will have noticed on many of the television series devoted to Living Abroad that they focus on those that encountered problems in their move to Greece and elsewhere. Then when having established their lifestyle in Greece, for whatever reason there are also reality checks.
For whatever, it seems true that around the seventh year away from "home", some ex-pats have a tendency to start to drift back to Britain and Ireland. For couples in later life there could be many issues such as a person's health deteriorates or the wish to be closer to the grandchildren!
That is a reality of living in Crete and Greece and elsewhere "abroad". Of course, there are many Britons and Irishmen who do not get the "seven year itch" and have left the British Isles, never to return, except to visit family and friends.
The point here is: Do not come on a holiday and then decide when you get back to the UK or your home country that you're going to sell up and move to Crete right away. Its not that simple. There is a little matter of Brexit that happened on December 31, 2020. British are regarded as outside the EU family now. A bit more bureaucracy to face if coming to stay in Greece over 3 months!
Anyway, Living in Crete and being on Holiday are not the same thing. When you are on Holiday you don't have to work, your food is served to you and your bed is made, you get to lounge around the pool or the beach all day. So.....
OF COURSE GREEK ISLAND LIVING SEEMS LAID BACK!
The reality is that life in Crete is pretty much like it is in the UK. Many of us under retirement age have to find work; you have to deal with folks who don't always speak English (although this is becoming more of a rarity now, but should not be automatically expected) and you will also have to seriously adjust to the slower pace of life. When you're on holiday that isn't a problem, but when you live here, it could become frustrating if you let it!
If you decide that no matter what, Crete is for you, then your decision is to be applauded. What follows are some experiences of others who have already relocated to Crete. It is a kind of check list of important considerations regarding property purchase - the biggest decision you are likely to make. The Brits in Crete team lists the experiences here in the hope that you will not make the mistakes that others have done unfortunately.
- 1. Be sure of which property it is that you are buying.
- 2. Don't always take what the agent tells you as being gospel (it may be that the agent has not been told the whole truth in the first place). For example, it is not uncommon in Greece for more than one member in a family to share the same property ownership through inheritance - usually with siblings, of course. If one or other relative doesn't want to sell, you will have a problem when it comes to the exchange of contract. It has been known for the more unscrupulous brother or sister in this shared ownership situation not to mention to the other owners of the pending sale until the deal has been done thereby causing all sorts of legal problems. This happens because Greece has only finalised in 2020 a computerised national land bank/registry, known as Cadastre). One of the last countries in Europe to do so.
- 3. Be clear on what it is you want and where you want it. For example: if you want a 3 bedroom, ready-to-move into house in Agios Nikolaos, don't let the agent take you to see a pile of stones in Sitia, a two hour drive away. It happens!
- 4. Another favourite ploy is for an agent to show you a property that allegedly can be extended/built up, but then once purchased, it is found that this permission cannot be obtained after all, thereby making your purchase useless and worthless (and yes we know of people that this has happened to).
- 5. Some Real Estate Agents don't put prices on their web site. Others do, but say it is a 'guide price'. They say that this is so that other agents can't be sure what sellers real ballpark sales price is. But the other reason is as follows: Greek Property Owners have a rather annoying habit of changing the prices to suit the prospective buyer. That is to say - if someone shows an interest in a property, the price might go up suddenly from the advertised and listed amount. (It is common for local Cretans to view prospective property owners from England as being rich (which in many cases is simply not true). Therefore be prepared for there to an "Ex-pat price" and a "local price". Never be afraid to be a tough bargainer.
The final idiosyncrasy is that for some unknown reason if a property owner has had his property on the market for a say a year or more and no-one has been to look at it, instead of adopting the obvious position and drop the price to glean some interest, he may do just the opposite, citing rising prices as the reason. A bizarre fact - but in keeping with the general local people's temperament.
Of course not all Real Estate Agents are out to sell you just anything. All are licensed. The great majority are law abiding and give good service, but there are a few bad apples and you should be aware of this when dealing with anyone regarding property in Crete. Ask for recommendations in the Brits in Crete Forum under the "Crete Real Estate" section. You'll sure to receive responses from those who have gone before along the same path. In addition, pay a visit to Crete property Uncovered.Com where many of Crete real estate agents are listed with experiences related by buyers - sometimes not the most complimentary comments.
Brits in Crete's own "buying advice" recommends you to purchase a property in Crete through the following agents for providing good customer service at all times. Around the Eastern end of the island from Malia to Lasithi here are some realtors who are more known to the British community. There are of course others:
Cretan Residencies(Agios Nikolaos)
Nikou Real Estate (Sissi/Sisi)
Buy and Sell (Aghios Nikolaos)
New Land Real Estate (Aghios Nikolaos)
Giakoumakis Real Estate and Property Developers (Malia)
(NB: This is not an exhaustive list and other agents have good reputation)
Please realise that Crete is super large and mountainous in the centre. Chania and Rethymnon to the west has another set of specialist real estate agents with a strong reputation.
Most Important Advice of All
Based on countless experiences in moving to Greece, our final word of advice for you before you buy your dream property in Crete. Our most fervent advice is simply: RENT FIRST! Don't rush into any decision.
What's the "Rent it First" Checklist?
- Don't sell up in the UK, Ireland (or wherever) straight away,
- Rent that current house out to help continue to pay off the Mortgage,
- THEN come to Crete and rent an apartment/house first, for a year or better still, two years,
- Make sure you like it in Greece BEFORE you sell up and move permanently. It saves a lot of time, effort, money and grief in the long run.
Our website has many useful pages for Brits and Irish ex-pats and anyone else who is seeking advice when buying a property in Greece. Check out, for instance:
- our Crete real estate directory of recommended and licensed realtors,
- to build or not a swimming pool in Crete,
- or - how much to pay the tax man?
- the EOT Licence - if you wish to legally rent out your holiday home to short term tenants/vacationers.
The 8 Most Important Questions to Ask when buying a property
These are among many pages with advice on this site when buying a property on Crete including Buying Tips for Property when investing in land or a property in Crete
Have you checked out Crete Property Uncovered - a review and comment site on Crete's developers, builders and property agents? Since the property market has lost much of the fervour it once head, the prices have come down considerably. So the reviews in Crete Property Uncovered stay wiht