Four Important Factors to Consider Before Buying Land in Crete
Buying land in Crete and building a home is easily the biggest thing we’ve ever undertaken. It was a stressful and long-lasting process, but it wouldn’t have been if we had known this crucial information. If you’ve found the property of your dreams in Crete, make sure you understand these four parameters before you proceed to the purchase.
First, make sure you’ve made the necessary financial preparations to realize if you can afford this property. Second, make sure you know what to actually look for in a property by reading about the essentials of buying a property HERE. After all, if you’re going to buy a land in Crete you should get some that will serve you well for years to come.
Once you’ve evaluated your financial ability and the perfect land property has been discovered, be sure to understand these six important parameters before you buy.
About the Buying Land in Crete? Here’s What You Should Know Before the Purchase article. The material contained in this article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice. Think Crete Real Estate does not purport to be a subject matter expert with regard to this material, and you should conduct your own research and/or seek the advice of appropriately qualified professionals with regard to your specific circumstances before you proceed to a property purchase in Crete, Greece.
Think Crete Real Estate assumes no responsibility, and specifically disclaims all liability, for your use of any and all information contained herein.
1. VISIT THE PROPERTY AND DO A COMPLETE WALK-THROUGH BEFORE THE PURCHASE.
Buying land in Crete? This is a vitally important step, especially if you are not living in the area in which you intend to purchase. Even if you are thousand miles away from your dream property in Crete, go visit it in person. It is not enough to simply trust your real estate representative or the photos of the property published in their websites. If you want to be truly satisfied, YOU need to make sure the property that has been proposed to you is what you really need and want.
There were five properties we pulled up online and fell in love with “virtually”. We’d look at the google maps and pore through the photos in the listing, thinking it was the perfect plot of land for us. Then we’d drive to it and realize that it’s at the end of a rocky dirt road far from the local amenities and outside of the village boundaries.
Or we’d discover that you can see and smell the olive factory just across the valley. For some it’s a pleasant smell but for us it was a bad smell like a crayon, tire tread or shoe leather. Or we’d realize that the topographic map was a deceptive and didn’t really convey how steep the terrain of the property really is. Lesson Learned: Do not buy a property without going to it and walking it first!
If possible, walk it with a copy of the topography plan. The real estate agent and the owner of the property should also walk it with you, if possible. They will usually have a deeper knowledge of the area, the exact boundary lines and landmarks, not to mention the history of a property and any disputes.
We walked our property with the real estate agent a couple of times and found tremendous value in it.
2. CHECK PROPERTY DEEDS CAREFULLY WHEN BUYING LAND PLOTS IN CRETE
You want to check for any deed limitations that may limit what you can and can’t do on your property, and find out exactly how obligatory these limits are. If you’re working with a realtor they will usually be provided with this information. However, an engineer or a topography surveyor would be the ideal option for professional and much more accurate advice. Even if there are not such limitations, do your due diligence or provide a power of attorney to a professional property solicitor to check everything. You may encounter:
- Minimum or maximum dwelling square meters
- Rules against outbuildings or supporting structures
- Limits on building styles and materials you can use
- Limits on the height of the structure
- Other limits pertaining to how and what you can build
In my experience, with exclusively listed properties you can avoid unseen deed restrictions – because the majority of the real estate firms have already performed these checks. However, you may always encounter an exception.
For example, “Building Capacity in Greece” refers to the building restriction, which specifies that a plot of land should conform to certain conditions, such as possessing the minimum surface area or required length of facade, in the least; otherwise the plot is not buildable. These conditions vary from region to region.
3. CHECK ACCESS RIGHTS CAREFULLY BEFORE ANY LAND PLOT PURCHASE.
You need to know if your property comes with its access rights or if they have been sold off by a previous property owner. You may proceed to a property purchase with or without access rights, but you need to understand the future risks.
For instance, easements are helpful for providing pathways across two or more pieces of property, allowing individuals to access other properties or a resource, for example to have access to a public beach. An easement is considered as a property right in itself at common law and is still treated as a type of property in most jurisdictions.
We did have an access rights issue that could have abandoned our plans to buy our property in Crete, but we were able to resolve it (a professional lawyer was really good) within the time frame of our offer without jumping any other legal hurdles. Your best course of action is to check with a lawyer in Crete who has experience with property rights and disputes. Make sure you don’t risk your dreams over legal procedures.
4. VERIFY ZONING AND ORDINANCES OF THE PLOT.
If you want to build a residential property on the plot that you just discovered, you need to make absolutely sure of what your property’s zoning type and associated ordinances dictate about what you can or cannot build.
The same is true if you will want to add support structures like pergolas, tiny houses, solar panels, storage rooms, covered parking etc. There may be square meters requirements for building permits, types of structures that are not allowed, boundary setback requirements and more.
Generally, land properties in Greece are not sold with existing planning permits. These are time sensitive and once expired there are extra costs to renew them.
Plots within a town or village planning zone
This type of plot allows a higher percentage of build, and lower boundary restrictions than in plots located outside official planning zones.
With a plot located within a planning zone, the building regulations depend on the rules of the particular town/village where it is located.
Within these areas, on a plot of 1,000 square meters you would normally be permitted to build 400 square meters of house.
It can be possible to build on a plot of less than 1,000 square meters but this would require further researches by your civil engineer.
It will often depend on the previous history of the ownership of the plot. In any of these circumstances, the land must have suitable access, which would be established by a recent topographic study.
Plots located outside official planning zones
The basic rule for plots of land located outside a planning zone is that you need a minimum area of 4,000 square meters. This usually would give a build allowance of 200 square meters.
Once this is established your lawyer or engineer will proceed to the necessary checks to ensure the buildability of the plot and any zoning limitations.
Firstly, the land cannot be classification as an army protected zone. Secondly, it cannot be in a conservation (‘Natura 2000’) area or in a forest. Thirdly, it cannot be in an area of archaeological importance. Fourthly, it may not be within the line defining the seashore.
These assurances all require official certificates from the relevant authorities in Crete, Greece and are undeniably essential before any property purchase. All the assurances are obtained by your engineer and-or lawyer.