Brits In Crete Impartial Property Buying Advice
Crete Property Tips and Information
Just recently it has become "de riguer" to pack up in the UK and Ireland, buy a property in Crete then move to the sunnier Mediterranean climate of Greece and its biggest island, Crete. 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. Here is also a reality check: for whatever reasons it is true that around the seventh year way from "home" Ex-Pats start to drift back to Britain and Ireland. 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. 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.
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 expected) and you will also have to deal with the slower pace of life. When you're on holiday that isn't a problem, but when you live here, it can become frustrating!
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. Brits in Crete team lists the experiences here in the hope that you will not make the mistakes that others have done.
- 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 the siblings. 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 is still in the throes of creating a computerized national land bank (cadastre). This means that many village properties rely on paper contracts held by the owners as proof of title.
- 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. They say that this is so that other agents can't see what they are asking, 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 their property, the price might go up 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".
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.
Cretan Residencies(Agios Nikolaos)
Crete Home Finders (Aghios Nikolaos)
Nikou Real Estate (Sissi/Sisi)
Landmark Crete (Chania/Xania)
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)
Most Important Tip
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.
These are among many pages with advice on this site when buying a property on Crete.