ATHENS, March 31 — Greece today tightened its Golden Visa rules raising the required investment to as much as €800,000 in a bid to help ease a housing crisis.

The successful programme that has attracted thousands of Chinese launched in 2014 granting foreigners a renewable, five-year residence permit in return for a €250,000 property investment.

The finance ministry announced that from today, the threshold would climb to €800,000 in attractive regions, such as Attica, around Athens, Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Santorini and the islands with a population of over 3,100.

In other areas, it would start at €400,000.

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“These measures are part of the government’s overall housing policy, which aims, in cooperation with the private sector, to ensure affordable and quality housing for all citizens,” Finance Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said.

According to the Bank of Greece data, rents have increased by 20 per cent since the country officially exited a near-decade-long crisis in 2018.

Investors must now purchase a property of at least 120 square metres, while for historic property and industrial buildings converted into living accommodation, the cost is 250,000 euros.

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Migration Ministry data for last year shows record demand with 10,214 applications for initial visa-related acquisitions or renewals.

A total of 5,701 Golden Visa permits were granted in 2023, and 8,800 applications are pending.

Investment reached at least €1 billion over the year.

However, the Association of Public Limited Companies and Entrepreneurship (SAE/E) has warned that it is “highly doubtful” that the government will achieve its goal of reducing house prices and increasing the availability of homes for long term rental.

The property market and construction industry faced a severe downturn during the economic crisis that kicked off in 2008.

The SAE/E says about 20,000 permanent residence permits have been granted to real estate investors to date.

Some 6,405 Chinese nationals bought residence permits in 2021, according to the migration and foreign ministries. — AFP