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Decline expected in international demand for Greek Golden visas due to raised investment threshold

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The Greek government has recently unveiled plans to elevate the investment thresholds within the highly sought-after Golden Visa programme. Tranio’s data reveals a brief surge in applications from international clients following this announcement, yet a discernible long-term decline is now underway. Simultaneously, there is burgeoning interest in alternative residence-for-investment schemes across Europe, notably in Hungary and Montenegro.

Official figures on Golden Visa applications, as provided by the Greek Ministry of Migration, illustrate a sharp upturn over the past year. Market observers attribute this trend to a flurry of last-minute applications from foreign investors seeking to capitalize on the existing investment thresholds. In response, authorities are implementing policy changes gradually, allowing ample time to conclude ongoing transactions. The deadline for applications under the current thresholds is set until September 30th, 2024. However, the backlog of pending applications has surged notably over the past two years, raising concerns among investors, particularly with the uptick in non-approvals.

In 2022, 15% of applications faced rejection, a stark increase from the 2.3% recorded in 2019. Coupled with potential delays in approval, some applicants now face waiting periods exceeding 12 months.

Greek Ministry of Migration
Source: Greek Ministry of Migration

Analysts at international real estate brokerage Tranio have examined the sustained demand from Russian-speaking property buyers regarding residence programmes. This analysis encompasses purchase inquiries from the CIS region (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, etc.) and Russian-speaking individuals residing elsewhere, notably in Israel, Turkey, and EU member states.

The data indicates that the Greek Golden Visa held the top spot for residence-for-investment preferences in 2020. By 2021, it shared this position with Montenegro’s Golden Passport, only to be surpassed by Turkey’s Golden Passport in 2022. However, in 2023, the Greek programme regained prominence in terms of total applications, despite a gradual decline in initial requests, with a notable 8.6% decrease observed in Q4 2023 compared to Q4 2022.

Tranio’s data
Source: Tranio’s data

Foreign investors now perceive Greece’s Golden Visa programme as nearing its conclusion. With the investment threshold set to rise to €800,000 in key locations favoured by international property buyers, this is viewed as a prohibitive measure. Notably, Tranio observed a 6.9% surge in purchase inquiries during Q1 2024, as clients rushed to secure deals under existing conditions.

Mikhail Bulanov Mikhail Bulanov Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Tranio

Another consideration arises regarding the competitive landscape for foreign investment attraction. Several new or revamped residence-for-investment options have emerged across Europe, including Hungary’s investment visas, Malta’s Global residence, and Andorra’s residence-for-investment scheme. These join established programmes such as Spain and Portugal’s Golden Visas, Cyprus’s residence-for-investment programme, and Turkey’s Golden Passport. Despite the closure of some similar programmes, ample opportunities remain to acquire resident status through property or business investments. While the budgets of property buyers often align with respective programme requirements, they do not automatically adjust to regulatory changes.

The elevation of residence-for-investment thresholds and stricter regulations in Turkey led to an 87.5% decline in purchase inquiries in Q4 2023 compared to Q4 2022.

Similarly, Portuguese property inquiries dropped by 59.3% in the same period following new investment vehicle restrictions. Russian-speaking buyers demonstrate continued interest in EU residential visas, particularly in countries without structured residence-for-investment programmes. France and Italy offer avenues for high-income individuals to obtain residence permits as financially independent persons, contributing to a 42.7% year-on-year growth in demand in Q4 2023, particularly in luxury markets such as Paris, the French Alps, and the Cote d’Azur.

Investment requirements

There are valid grounds for raising the investment threshold in Greece’s Golden Visa programme. While Greece’s economy displays steady growth post the 2010 financial crisis, the programme may face challenges under the new regulations amid heightened competition for foreign investment within EU property markets. Factors such as higher mortgage rates and a waning domestic demand further compound this scenario. Additionally, potential limitations on investment from Russian citizens and reduced activity from Chinese investors due to China’s economic slowdown could further impact demand.

Mikhail Bulanov Mikhail Bulanov Managing Partner & Co-Founder of Tranio
Greek Ministry of Migration
Source: Greek Ministry of Migration
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