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Real Estate:
Restoring or Building a House in Greece

Greek real estate

You bought a piece of property and you need to restore or build a house. It's not like at home where your architect gives the plans to the workers and you come back in 6 months and it's done. If you are not there overseeing the entire procedure things won't get done, corners will be cut and you may end up with an unfinished house that looks nothing like the dream house you wanted.

16 Easy Steps for building or restoring a house in Greece

These are my tips for building or restoring a house taken from experience:

1) If you are poor, don't do it. Rent by the year instead. At least if you decide you don't like the house or the village you can move.
2) If you still want to do it have someone you trust who can advise you and tell you when you are being ripped off. Preferably someone within the village who knows the quality of workmanship and character.
3) Plan on spending more then you planned on spending. This applies to money, time and patience.
4) Make sure you are there to keep people working and to make sure things are done the way you want them and not the way the workers want to do it which is usually the easy way or in a way they have never done it but they think will impress you.
5) Plan to be there for the entire duration of the time spent building the house.
6) Expect to lose your temper. If you don't know how to lose your temper you will need to learn.
7) Learn how to make Greek coffee and Frappe to get the workers rolling after their lunch break (If they go to the cafe for coffee you will never see them again)
8) Don't buy any furniture until the house is complete or it will be destroyed. They will use your antique tables as ladders and everything will be covered in plaster.
9) Make sure the workers clean up the area outside your house of rubble, stones, or cement when they are done because the neighbors will blame you for any mess left behind.
10) Make sure the electrician is really an electrician and not just somebody's cousin. (Same goes for the plumber.)
11) Always buy a drink for the workers when you run into them in the cafes so they feel guilty about ripping you off. (They'll do it anyway)
12) Make friends with the Mayor (So he doesn't shut off your water while they are mixing cement or he at least warns you.)
13) Let your kids know that they should be thankful for you building them a house which you are now too frazzled to enjoy.
14) Make sure you have a good lawyer. (My friend's family bought land in Skiathos and it turned out to be a state park).
15) Plan to spend a lot of time on the phone pleading to get workers to come back and finish the job, talking to officials to get building permits extended or trying to find the type of stones or fixtures you need.
16) Don't buy anything sight unseen and make sure you are there for the delivery.

My advice is to move to a village, get to know the people and become a part of that village. Then people will come running to you with property to sell because they will be less likely to overcharge you because they know you. Well they will still overcharge you but they won't excessively overcharge you.

If this is discouraging just remember that you are now the owner of land in Greece which is a very valuable commodity and you can always sell it. (maybe)

We as foreigners have this compulsion to possess and in Greece it works to our disadvantage, first of all because everything is overpriced for us because we are expected to pay more than a Greek would, mainly because we don't know any better, and second because desirable property is overpriced since sellable land which is not co-owned by a dozen fightingrelatives, is rare. Yes, sure the economic crisis caused real estate prices to plummet in some areas and for certain types of properties. But chances are if you are reading this now and still looking for a bargain you may have missed the boat. Thirdly, anyone selling land wants to make as much profit as he can and if you agree to his price then he thinks he charged you too little and will decide he does not want to sell.

The beauty of Greece for us is that we come and go as we please. We are not confronted by the everyday problems a Greek faces and the country seems idyllic to us. On the surface Greece is a simple place where the sun always shines and everyone is happy but once you live there you realize there is another side to the country and nothing is as simple as it seems. It's a multifaceted place that shows it's best face for the visitors. But every foreigner who has tried to make Greece his own, from Lord Byron to the present day, knows what I am talking about. Greece is a land of complexities and frustrations as well as a land rich in personality and beauty.

So before you make your mind up to buy a house in Greece, go live there for a year.

-Matt Barrett

If I have not talked you out of it visit Greece Real Estate

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