Financial Express: Best time to buy a luxury villa in Cyprus or Greece according to Leptos Group Co-president, Mr. Pantelis Leptos

November 6, 2023

Mr. Pantelis Leptos serves as a guest writer, contributing the below article to the Financial Express.

Both Cyprus and Greece have introduced several programs and incentives to attract overseas investments in their real estate industry.

By Pantelis Leptos

The sun, sand and sea have always been an irresistible attraction for tourists globally. Two of the top tourist destinations in this connection are Cyprus and Greece. In turn, the vibrant tourism industry has given a big boost to their real estate market, especially for seafront luxury villas – be it for holidays, investments or both.

In 2022, the number of tourists travelling to Cyprus and Greece soared. As per the Cyprus Statistical Service, 3.09 million tourists visited Cyprus, an almost 68% rise from the earlier year. Similarly, in 2022, the number of international travellers to Greece nearly doubled, falling just below 3.0 million; these numbers are anticipated to surpass 4.5 million in 2023.

As one of the world’s oldest civilisations, Cyprus has attracted travellers from across the globe, seeking to enjoy the experience of the Mediterranean’s blue waters, savour the most delectable food and find a better quality of life. Not surprisingly, living near the sea is said to have therapeutic benefits.

But that isn’t everything. Both Cyprus and Greece have introduced several programmes and incentives to attract overseas investments in their real estate industry. Tax holidays, lower property transfer fees and seamless property acquisition processes act as an icing on the Mediterranean cake.

In 2021, Greece and Cyprus announced crucial changes to their Residency Programmes. For example, Cyprus abolished the Golden Visa initiative and reformed its Permanent Residency Programme, which allows foreigners to acquire an Immigration Permit via property investment, beginning from €300,000.

As a result, people can enjoy unlimited access to Cyprus and across the EU. This is particularly popular with investors from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region who have some personal or professional interests in Europe.

Additionally, since EU nations such as Spain, Portugal and Ireland have discontinued their Golden Visa and Residency Programmes, Greece and Cyprus are gaining more popularity among global investors. One of the last of its kind in the EU, Greece’s Golden Visa Programme provides the cheapest access to the Schengen Zone. In essence, buying a holiday home or principal residence for as little as €250,000 makes the purchaser eligible for residency.

While offering lifelong residency to the applicant, the Greece Golden Visa also extends to his/her spouse and children up to 21 years of age, including the parents of the main applicant and the spouse.

After its issue, the Golden Visa permits restriction-free travel in the EU’s Schengen Zone. Moreover, if an applicant spends more than 180 days annually in Greece, after seven years the person qualifies for an EU passport. Thanks to these favourable policies, investing in real estate in Cyprus and Greece is most attractive and financially feasible for individual as well as institutional investors.

But beaches aren’t the only attraction in Cyprus. Visitors can frolic and ski in the snow in the mountains during winter. The island also has some of the best nightclubs, a cruise terminal and Europe’s biggest casino, making it the perfect holiday getaway.

For tourists and investors seeking luxury living or purchasing property for investment, Paphos is one of Cyprus’ most desirable locations with beachfront villas. These exclusive, gated villas come with large verandas, extensive landscaped gardens, sauna facilities and a state-of-the-art gym – all within a stone’s throw from the Mediterranean Sea. Prices of sea-facing villas in Cyprus start from €699,000 plus VAT and move upwards in millions of euros.

Coming to Greece, its most favoured location is Crete, once the centre of the first advanced civilisation in Europe. Along with Crete’s excellent year-round climate, beachfront villas on its western side offer the most outstanding views of the mountains. Prices for these villas start from €1.25 million plus VAT and upwards.

Besides serving as a fantastic holiday home or a sound investment for international investors, villas in Cyprus and the Greek islands also provide strong rental returns, which can be much higher during the holiday season. The newly-built villas within a secure, gated development offering direct access to the beach are the most preferred properties.

The tax incentives in Cyprus, including a modest corporate tax rate, make it an attractive option for investors wishing to spread out their investments while optimising financial gains. Regarding Greece, as the Greek Government could be poised to increase its entry investment level, enquiries from prospective investors looking for luxury villas have been rising in recent weeks. Considering these circumstances, this may be the best time to buy a luxury villa in Cyprus or Greece.

(Author is Co-President – Leptos Group of Companies)

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