Golden visa and Russian investors in Greece: what will change after the imposition of sanctions against Moscow

The investment activity of Russians through investments in the internal economy of Greece (acquisition of a golden visa) and scenarios for its cancellation are considered in a new report by the pan-Hellenic real estate network E-Real Estates.

As writes iefimerida.grBased on data from the E-Real Estates Network report, the golden visa program, with the purchase of a property of at least €250,000, added to the domestic real estate market:

  • 1035 sales in 2021,
  • 938 in 2020,
  • 3535 in 2019,
  • 1833 in 2018,
  • 959 in 2017,
  • 488 in 2016,
  • 421 in 2015,
  • 338 in 2014
  • 21 in 2013 (the first year of the program).

If this number includes family members of investors who have received a residence permit, then we get, in total, 28,773 residence permits.

The Chinese and Turks are the first in the real estate markets. Russian investors account for 6.22%

Data from the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum shows that 66.44% (6,391) of investors who received a residence permit with a minimum investment in real estate of 250,000 euros are Chinese citizens, only 6.43% (619 investors) are Turkish citizens, taking 2nd place, and 6.22% (599 investors) of citizens of the Russian Federation, in 3rd place.

This will not be a blow to the Greek economy

“Participation of Russian investors in the national Greek program “golden visa”, against the backdrop of ongoing events, is not expected. We cannot say that after the exclusion of Russian investors from the above program, as a sanction against Russia, it will “be a blow” to the internal program, says Themistoklis Bakas, president of E-Real Estates.

Russians prefer country houses in popular areas

The attention of Russian investors is mainly limited to high-standard properties located mainly on the world-famous islands of Greece (Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes), in the southern suburbs of Attica, as well as in Chalkidiki and Crete.

The Russians “demonstrated” a strong investment interest in the real estate sector in Cyprus and Britain. In particular, in the UK, since the introduction of the Tier 1 Investor visa program (minimum investment amount of 2.2 million) until the end of March 2020, 2,581 visas have been issued to Russian citizens.

“One scenario that we hope will not succeed, directly related to the timing and development of the Russian-Ukrainian war and related sanctions, is “interdependence” of Russia with China. Russian investors may have been excluded from the Golden Visa program, but let’s not forget that Russia’s response to sanctions may come “directly” not from themselves, but from friendly neighboring countries such as the People’s Republic of China. Bakas, explaining that Moscow’s possible demands for a “freeze of Chinese funds in the Greek economy” could be a big “blow” to the domestic “golden visa” program, which is directly dependent, according to available data, on Chinese funds (mainly in the real estate market).

3 billion euros from real estate investment through golden visa

To date, the program has generated over €3 billion in real estate investments. The Impact of the Cheapest Golden Visa Program in EUas well as the general profitability of the Greek real estate market, led to large-scale investments from abroad.

According to relevant data from the Bank of Greece, foreign direct investment in the real estate market reached 1 billion euros in 2021, compared to 875 million euros in 2020 and 1.45 billion euros in 2019. In the same time 2018 was a landmark year for foreign investment in the real estate market as the corresponding amount jumped by 172% to 1.12 billion from 414.7 million in 2017, when it almost doubled again from 222.4 million in 2016.

Issuance of a residence permit to investors-buyers of real estate by country:

  • China: 6391
  • Turkey: 619
  • Russia: 599
  • Lebanon: 307
  • Egypt: 251
  • Iran: 198
  • Iraq: 137
  • Ukraine: 112
  • USA: 106
  • Jordan: 84
  • Other countries: 815
  • Total: 9619.

Issuance of a residence permit to investors-buyers of real estate and their families by country:

  • China: 19,354
  • Turkey: 1675
  • Russia: 1689
  • Lebanon: 1045
  • Egypt: 634
  • Iran: 651
  • Iraq: 543
  • USA: 345
  • Syria: 267
  • Ukraine: 285
  • Other countries: 2245
  • Total: 28,733.

Issuance of a residence permit to investors-buyers of real estate per year:

  • 2013: 21
  • 2014: 338
  • 2015: 412
  • 2016: 483
  • 2017: 955
  • 2018: 1893
  • 2019: 3535
  • 2020: 938
  • 2021: 1035
  • Total: 9610.

Data provided by the Ministry of Immigration and Asylum of the General Secretariat for Immigration Policy (date: 01/31/2022).

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