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Greece to Increase Golden Visa Amount to $862,000

Voice of America
12 Feb 2024

ATHENS, Greece - Greece has announced new measures to protect locals from a deluge of mainly Chinese nationals purchasing homes and property in exchange for residency rights in the West - what is commonly known as a "Golden Visa" scheme.

For many of China's newly well-off citizens, the incentive to emigrate has been rising, feeding what is being dubbed worldwide as "investment migration" businesses.

In recent years, there has been a massive rush of Chinese nationals to Greece, and that has created a serious housing crisis.

On Friday, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he would increase the threshold of real estate investment from $269,491 to $862,372 in certain pockets of the country to ease the crisis.

"It is a major investment boost for the country but also a serious measure we are considering to shield the local market," he told lawmakers in the Greek parliament.

In a rare show of bipartisan support, opposition leaders sided with the plan.

Because of a lingering housing shortage, they are now urging the government to block foreign homebuyers, like the Chinese, from making a fortune off their investments, leasing them for short-term rentals rather than occupying them for residential purposes alone.

A local near the foot of the Acropolis, Greece's star attraction and the hub of Chinese and other tourists - says finding an affordable apartment to lease in the area has become difficult.

"All you see are tourists staying in these flats. The prices for locals have become excessively high," he said.

Since launching the Golden Visa program in 2014, Greece has been granting five-year renewable residence permits to foreigners in exchange for a minimum property investment of nearly $270,000.

In the last year alone, the number of permits issued has quadrupled, with Chinese nationals topping the list at 80 percent. Turks fleeing the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan are second, with Lebanese nationals and Israelis both taking third position, according to data released from the Bank of Greece.

Government sources tell VOA the highest charges for Greece's Golden Visas will apply for the country's most coveted property - in central Athens and glitzy Greek islands like Mykonos and Santorini - a favorite among Chinese nationals.

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