The following progress report should give you an idea of the steps involved in buying a property in Crete “off-plan” and the likely time scale. Obviously this can vary from company to company, this is just an example from our experience of buying a two bedroomed apartment in Almerida.
April 2003 - Having decided that we were interested in buying a property in Western Crete we searched the internet and made a list of companies that might be suitable. We sent e-mails to the companies and received some brochures showing properties available at that time. We liked what we saw and so we booked a package holiday for August. We then arranged for one of the companies to pick us up from the hotel and show us around the sites where they intended to build properties in the future. We also arranged car hire through the property company for the two days after the viewing so that we could go back and look at the sites on our own before making a decision. We arranged the car hire through the property company as they had a deal set up with the car hire company and got much better rates than we could find anywhere else.
August 2003 - We were met in the hotel by a representative from the property company who took us out for the day showing us various locations where they intended to build properties within our price range. The representative had all the plans with her so that we could see exactly the positions of proposed buildings and also the interior layouts. After showing us the various plots the representative then showed us some buildings nearing completion so we could see the quality of the workmanship. She also took us to one of their showrooms where we could see examples of bathroom, kitchen fittings and tiles.
The following day we drove around again in our hire car so that we could spend more time by ourselves looking at the various plots and surrounding villages. We also went to view another property we had seen in an Estate Agents window. We decided that we would buy one of the proposed apartments on a plot close to Almerida Beach that we had seen the previous day.
The property company arranged to take us to Chania the following day where they gave us more details of the contract and set up a meeting with a lawyer and a public notary. We gave the lawyer power of attorney to deal with the legalities on our behalf. He arranged to set up a joint bank account into which we could pay the money as required and upon our instruction he would transfer it to the property company. The lawyer also obtained a local tax number for us which was required in order for us to purchase property in Greece.
Sept 2003 - Upon return to the UK we arranged transfer of the money for the deposit into the new bank account and this was then transferred by the lawyer from our account to the property company. This deposit was 10% of the asking price.This was called the stage 1 payment.
We had asked for some changes to be made to the interior layout of the property so the property company liaised with the architect and sent us some revised plans via e-mail. After some small changes the final plans where agreed on and a copy sent to us via e-mail so that there were no misunderstandings.
Around this time a second payment consisting of 30% of the total asking price was transferred via the lawyer to the property company to cover the purchase of the land. This was called the stage 2 payment. Contracts were exchanged and we then had to wait for the land registration process to be completed.
Mar 2004 - Due to a strike there was a delay in the land registration process and we had to wait. Eventually land registration was completed and the deeds for the land were sent to us by the lawyer. However they were in Greek so we asked for a translated copy and the lawyer arranged for this and sent it via e-mail. In current Greek law anything now built on the land is legally ours.
Once satisfied with the deeds we arranged for transfer of the stage 3 payment consisting of 30% of the total asking price to our account.
The lawyer then transferred this payment to the property company.
We also had to transfer funds to the lawyer to cover the purchase costs such as tax and the lawyer’s fees.
May 2004 - As we couldn’t make it out to Crete due to lack of time we agreed with the property company that they would send us photos of the various stages of construction. And finally in May site clearance started !!
As construction had started it was now time to start choosing the exterior and interior finishes. Normally this would be done in Crete but as we didn’t have the time we asked the property company to send us photos from which we could make the necessary choices.
First to be decided was the choice of floor tiles for the exterior.
We chose the Light Teracotta.
Next to be decided was the choice of floor tiles for the interior.
We chose the Pale Peach Matt.
Next to be decided was the colour of the kitchen fittings.
The available options to choose from included:
We chose the Cream Kitchen Units with Cherry Wood Worktop.
Next to be decided was the colour of the bathroom tiles.
The available options included:
We chose the White and Pale Blue Tiles.
Next to be decided was the finish of the bathroom accessories.
The available options included:
We chose the Metal Removable in Silver Colour.
The only items we now had to address were the following extras that were not included in the original price:
Air Conditioning - The property company that we used usually suggest with apartments that a 9,000 BTU unit is placed in each bedroom. The price for each unit would be approx. 550 euros. However we decided that as the apartment was so small we would fit one unit in the main living area.
Solar Panel - There will be an emersion heater fitted as standard. The apartment would require a solar panel for 4-5 people and the price would be approx. 1000 Euros. We decided to get a solar panel as we would prefer to have hot water on demand.
Water Tank - This is just in case there is a water shortage. It is a 1000L tank with a pump and would cost approx. 575 Euros. Due to limited funds we decided not to get this. Only time will tell if we made the right decision !
Wood Finish - The doors and wood work within the apartment can be either light, medium or dark. To keep the apartment as light as possible we chose the light wood.
Central Heating - The Air Conditioners can double as heaters in the colder weather so we decided no central heating system was necessary.
Fitted Wardrobes - These are usually supplied by the builder and are quoted individually. A typical quote would be 1,200 euros which sounded quite high so due to our limited funds we decided against getting fitted wardrobes.
Electrical Appliances - From a list supplied we chose to have a built-in cooker and a fridge with 1/4 freezer.
July 04 - We received a new photo showing work on the site was progressing well. Foundations had been completed and building of the external structure was nearing completion.
A few days later we received photos showing our actual apartment (the upstairs one!). It was very exciting to see it for the first time.
A couple of weeks later the exterior had been painted with its first coat of paint.
August 04 - In August work was progressing well. Walls had been painted with final colour and windows and doors installed.
October 04 - Work has started on the interior. Tiling had been completed and fitment of bathroom started.
Also work had started on the building of the swimming pool.
December 04 - Fitting of the kitchen had started.
We could now see what the view from our balcony would be like.
Also there had been progress in the building of the swimming pool.
Received some photos showing the pool area which has now been completed.
I think we may have to call in the pool cleaner before summer !
At the beginning of May we went to Crete to check the apartment and to pick up the keys from the estate agent. Because this was the first time we had actually seen the apartment we had started to have nightmares about how small it would be. However we were pleasantly suprised as it seemed a lot roomier than we had expected. Our next task was to buy furniture and equipment to make the place habitable.
The general quality of the building was very good. As with any new building there where a few small problems that will require rectification. We checked everything out and then made a list of the problems. Once the snagging list has been sorted we will make the final payment to the estate agent. To download a useful spreadsheet for checking your own property click here.
We are very pleased with the views from our balcony.
One of the other owners on the plot has arranged for the pool to be cleaned and the cost is to be shared between all the owners. The communal areas also need to be landscaped and this is being looked into at the moment.
In July the neighbours popped over for a drink! I just hope they didn’t go for a swim!
To be continued !!!!!!! Check back soon......................
To see a list of useful tips to check before buying a property click here.
To read about the experiences of people who have moved to Crete to live click here.