Crete is a comparatively new market since if you were a foreigner it has only been possible to buy property in Greece without a Greek partner since 1990.
Before then only few foreigners with a good knowledge of Crete and trustworthy friends were willing to invest their money in property. The advent of the European Union changed all this and more and more EU citizens have been buying property on the island.
Easing of restrictions created a little construction boom in some areas (for example Plaka and Kokkino Horio in Apokorona), driven especially by British buyers wanting to retire in the sun. This led to massive increases in property prices in these areas which in turn triggered speculation and all sorts of excesses. Of course that bubble eventually burst and there are now a lot of houses waiting to be sold and not finding any buyers.
There are now far less estate agents and property developers than there were during the short boom years. The ones that have survived the bust are more likely to be the serious ones and that’s good news. Most of the sharks and bottom feeders that were attracted by the boom are now gone elsewhere or out of business.
The other piece of good news is that it is now a very good time to buy property in Crete as prices have fallen considerably (see investment value).
If you want to build a house from scratch what you need to bear in mind is that building regulations are a lot tighter here than it may appear at first sight and that you will not get away with buying a plot of land and building your house as a DIY projects as there are plenty of regulations (the most significant one is probably the anti-earthquake building specification) that have to be adhered to.
Trying to build or renovate a house without using a local architect is not a good idea and may be a false economy (if saving money was your intention in the first place). The climate of Crete is very different from the climate of northern Europe and may demand different types of building materials and procedures. Dealing with builders without a local architect to oversee the project may also have catastrophic (or at least expensive) results. This is not because local builders are bad workers but it is more likely due to communication problems.
For more information on different aspects of buying property in Crete, follow the links below. Please note that this information is only given as guideline by an informed lay person, not by a specialist in the real estate or building trade.