“Golden Visa” goes down

The funds received in 2020 in the treasury of Greece decreased by 73% compared to 2019. Experts attribute some improvement as the vaccination process develops and the situation with the pandemic in general, with restrictions on air travel.

According to recently revised figures from the Ministry of Immigration Policy, 234.5 million euros were invested in the real estate market in 2020 under the Golden Visa program, as the number of licenses dropped to 938.

The decline compared to 2019 is obvious and reflects the impact of the pandemic. In particular, 3503 licenses were issued in 2019, resulting in a minimum investment in the real estate market of 876 million euros. As a result, in 2020, the amount of funds received by the country under the “golden visa” from citizens of non-EU countries decreased by 73%.

The results are even worse in 2021, as only 117 new licenses were issued by the beginning of June, which is only 29.25 million euros. Real estate executives associate the restoration of the program with the progress of vaccinations and the pandemic in general, as well as with restrictions on air travel, especially when it comes to citizens living outside the EU.

Unless negative and unexpected events occur in the second half of the year, there is optimism about a gradual return on investment, especially from China, which is the main “consumer” of this program.

But if the fourth wave of the pandemic comes, it is clear that the expected recovery in investment under the Golden Visa will be delayed at least in the fourth quarter of this year, perhaps even later.

According to relevant data, from the start of the Golden Visa program in mid-2014 to the present day, 8692 residence permits have been issued to real estate investors from non-EU countries. This means that at least 2.17 billion euros have been invested in the real estate market. In fact, according to representatives of offices working in the investment immigration market, in reality this amount is estimated at about 3 billion euros. The reason is that at least half of the licensed investors have far exceeded the minimum investment value of 250,000 euros.

In any case, this program provides 25-30% of the total capital inflow from abroad for the purchase of real estate in 2020. According to the Bank of Greece, in 2020 these inflows amounted to 875 million, 27% of which are from the Golden Visa program. However, in 2019, the total contribution reached 60%, as of the 1.45 billion euros invested in the real estate market, 875 million euros concerned investors outside the EU who received a residence permit.

As for the first quarter of this year, according to the Bank of Greece, net foreign direct investment in the real estate market fell by 7.3%, as it did not exceed 214 million euros, compared with 230 million euros in the same period last year. The contribution of the Golden Visa program is currently unclear as the processing of residence permit applications by interested investors has not been completed.

However, from the very beginning to the present day, Chinese investors have been the “locomotive” of this program, since they received 71% of the licenses, that is, 6190 out of 8692 licenses issued.

In second place are investors from Turkey with 541 licenses, followed by Russians with 474 licenses. Investors from Lebanon with 226 licenses and from Egypt with 199 licenses round out the top five.

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