From our experience of buying an apartment in Crete and reading various Greek related forums on the Internet we have learnt several valuable lessons. I have listed below some points that you should check before agreeing to purchase from an overseas property company. If you know of any other useful tips please feel free to contact us and we will add them to the list. The Cretan property company we dealt with did not comply with all the points listed below and maybe no other company does either. However by checking these points against each company you deal with there shouldn't be any costly surprises after you have signed the contract.
1) Does the price quoted include major items such as air conditioning, solar panels, water tanks, central heating? If not you should carefully discuss what would be required and exactly what the property company charge for the supply and installation of each item.
2) Does the price quoted include the costs for tax/national insurance? If not ask the property company exactly what these costs will be?
3) You will also have the costs of lawyers and associated legal fees. Get your lawyer to give you a complete break down of the costs. Some people argue that it is better to use a lawyer recommended by the property company others prefer to use a lawyer that is totally independent of the property company. After careful consideration we decided to use the lawyer recommended by the property company as we felt that there was less chance of an error and more chance of the legalities being dealt with quickly. We didn’t have any problems but in hindsight after reading of people’s experiences in other countries I think it is probably a better idea to use the services of a totally independent lawyer rather than one recommended by the property company. That way you can be sure there is no conflict of interest.
4) Does the property company provide a written deposit contract in your own language which clearly sets out what happens if things go right/wrong?
5) Does the property company provide sample design/building contracts in your own language which specify exactly what's included/excluded in the price quoted?
6) Does the property company offer a guaranteed completion date with a penalty clause if not completed on time?
7) Does the property company offer a guarantee against defective workmanship? If so how long is the guarantee and what does it cover?
8) If buying a property that requires renovation does the property company just tell you the initial cost or do they give you a realistic break down of the full cost of renovation?
9) When buying land outside village limits does the property company warn you of the true costs of long-distance (over 100m) electricity supply ?
10) When buying land ask the property company handling the sale about possible land purchase or planning permission problems/restrictions such as forestry, archaeology, village boundary's etc.
11) When you pay money to the property company (particularly when buying "off-plan") is it protected by any insurance/bank guarantee in the event of the property company going bankrupt.
12) If you are planning to rent out your property you will require an EOT licence. You should find out if the property will meet the requirements in order to get an EOT licence because if it doesn't you will not be able to rent out the property. If caught renting it out without an EOT licence you could be arrested and subject to pay heavy fines or even deportation. Also find out how much it will cost to get the EOT licence. The cost can vary but it is likely to be around 3000 euros ! If the property is an apartment or has a shared pool you may not be able to get an EOT licence unless all property owners on the plot agree to pay. If you are buying the property to rent out it is very important to look into this or your investment could be useless!
13) If the property includes a shared swimming pool and/or landscaped gardens try to find out who will be responsible for maintenance, what the likely costs will be and how these costs will be shared between all parties. Some complexes have an annual maintenance fee.
14) If buying property off-plan it is likely that you will be shown a field where the proposed properties will be built. However remember that other property companies may own the fields next door, in front and behind your proposed property and may be intending to build on these too. As this could affect the view from your property and maybe even the sun light on your patio or by your pool you should find out exactly what is proposed for all land around the plot.
15) Sewerage! Find out whether your property will be connected to the main sewerage system or if it will have a septic tank. If it has a septic tank will it be shared (and if so by how many people/buildings etc). How often will it need emptying, who will be responsible for emptying it and who will pay for this.
16) It seems that in some areas of Crete there are problems with the supply of water especially in the months of July and August. You should seek advice about the supply in the area you intend to live. Sometimes it is possible to have an extra water tank installed. In other cases especially in higher parts of a village it might require a sterna (hugh concrete water tank) to be built. The best place to find out this information is from people who already live in the same area.
17) If buying off-plan (especially on a plot where there is more than one property) then it is normal for the architect to decide what the exterior colour and finishes of the building, windows and door frames will be. I would suggest that you find out what the proposed colours and materials will be and get this written into the contract. Otherwise you could end up with a building in a colour that you dont like or with door frames and windows in a mixture of colours that you would not have chosen yourself.
18) When accepting the property from the estate agent/builder check carefully for any problems before making your final payment. Dont make the final payment until all problems have been rectified to your satisfaction. To download a useful spreadsheet for checking a property click here.
Thanks to Stuart from Crete Complete Property for allowing us to republish some extracts from his original postings on the Interkriti Web Forum.
To see the progress report for the building of our apartment click here.
To read about the experiences of people who have moved to Crete to live click here.