Engel & Völkers
  • 13 min read
  • 08.11.2022

Selling a flat: Tips and tricks for a successful sale

Here you can find out everything you need to know about selling your condominium.

Selling a flat

Flats continue to sell well - both privately and commercially. In 2020 alone, 328,200 condominiums were sold in Germany. Here you can find out everything you need to know about selling a flat. From the process and the required documents, to the free valuation and suitable sales strategies, to the tax treatment of the sale price, no questions remain unanswered.

The most important things in a nutshell:

  • The location of the flat is one of the most important factors for a profitable sale

  • There are various advantages and disadvantages to selling with and without an estate agent

  • The individual steps in the selling process take different amounts of time and this depends on whether the sale is done on your own or with the help of an estate agent

  • The sale of a flat can be divided into 4 steps: Preparation, main phase, completion, handover

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When is a good time to sell a condominium?

Should you sell your flat now or rather wait? This is a question many property owners are currently asking themselves. Because the times of historically low interest rates for buying real estate are over.

Due to the low interest rates in recent years, property prices have risen rapidly and even if the increases in value are currently no longer as high - home ownership remains attractive despite the turnaround in interest rates and gains in value are still possible. Condominiums in particular are becoming increasingly popular. An essential factor is the location of a condominium. An urban environment, proximity to potential employers and a good infrastructure make selling a flat a profitable venture.

Selling a flat with or without an estate agent?

Whether you should sell your flat with or without an estate agent depends on various parameters. A professional real estate agent handles the sale of your condominium in a holistic and time-saving manner, but also costs money that not every seller is willing to spend. To make your decision easier, here are the advantages of selling your flat through a real estate agent compared to selling it on your own.

The advantages of selling without an estate agent are:

  • You save on estate agent commissions.

  • No coordination processes are necessary.

  • The saved commission can be added to the sales price.

The advantages of selling with a broker are:

  • The broker's experience, market knowledge and relationships simplify the sale.

  • You place the marketing, viewings and administration in competent hands.

  • Setting a higher sales price is easier.

  • Prospective buyers receive expert advice.

  • The sale is quicker and legally secure.

What does it cost to sell a flat through an estate agent?

If you commission an estate agent with the sale of a flat, costs will be incurred. Buyers and sellers share these costs equally. In 2020, a law was passed regarding the amount of commissions. These vary depending on the federal state.

  • Info

    The brokerage costs are usually payable one to two weeks after signing the purchase contract. Around two to three per cent of the sales price per party is customary.

If you are willing to invest work and time in the sale of your home, you can do without an estate agent and save money by doing it yourself. However, if you have no knowledge of the real estate business, it is advisable to have the sale of your flat handled by an expert. Estate agents take on important tasks such as determining the value of the property, registering the property with the land registry or preparing exposés that are suitable for the target group.

How does the sale of a flat proceed?

The process of selling a condominium is divided into the following phases:

  1. The preparation phase includes the valuation of the flat and the compilation of the documents.

  2. The choice of a suitable marketing strategy, the preparation of an exposé and the conduct of viewings characterise the main phase of the sale.

  3. The settlement phase includes sales negotiations, drawing up the purchase contract and checking the buyer's creditworthiness.

  4. The handover phase includes the notary appointment, the registration in the land register and the handover of the keys.


The preparation of the sale includes both the flat itself and the necessary documents. By preparing your flat for the upcoming viewing appointments, you show it from its best side. Cover up any exposed cables and try to create as homely and clean an impression as possible. This promotes the imagination of potential buyers and increases the likelihood of a sale by making them feel at ease.


The valuation of the flat can be carried out by an estate agent or by various providers of free property valuations. You can also use our free property value calculator to determine the value of your flat.

If you carry out the valuation yourself, you should take the following factors into account:

  • Micro and macro location

  • Equipment of the flat

  • Building fabric (building services)

  • local market situation

Do you want to get the most out of your flat? If so, it is worth upgrading your flat with minor or major renovations. This could be the installation of an air conditioning system, a break-through for a spacious floor plan or the construction of a carport if parking space is limited. Secure a free purchase price appraisal from accomplished professionals now. An appraisal provides reliable figures and supports you in achieving a higher sales price.

  • Info

    While privately used flats are valued according to the comparative value method, the capitalised earnings value method is used for investment properties. If no reference values of comparable properties are available, the asset value method is suitable for determining the value.

Early repayment penalty when selling a flat

The prepayment penalty plays an important role in the preparation for the sale process if you terminate your loan before the fixed interest period expires. Usually it amounts to one percent of the remaining debt. In some cases it may not be demanded from the borrower:

  • after expiry of the fixed interest rate (in which case you are entitled to a special right of termination)

  • in the case of variable interest rates

  • if there are errors in the cancellation clause

  • in the case of incorrect or inaccurate information on the early repayment penalty

  • in the case of a building society loan

  • if the contract is taken over by the buyer of the flat

Compile documents

Complete documentation speeds up the sales process. These include:

  • current extract from the land register (not older than three months)

  • Energy certificate

  • Floor plan

  • Building description

  • current economic plan

  • Housing benefit statement

  • Declaration of division

  • Minutes of the owners' meeting

  • Proof of repairs carried out

  • Proof of existing loans

  • in the case of rented flats, the tenancy agreement of the current tenant

  • any expert opinion

Drawing up an expert opinion

An expert opinion includes the market value of a condominium. It can also provide clarity in the case of hereditary building rights and with regard to inheritance tax. In the event of a divorce, an appraisal can provide a court-approved basis for calculation. When selling your home, a real estate appraisal is a good selling point by increasing the confidence of buyers. In this way, price ideas can be well justified.

Main phase


To market your flat, you need a suitable marketing strategy. This will help you to reach exactly those customers whose buyer profile matches the key data of your flat. For example, the marketing strategy for a one-bedroom flat in a metropolitan area will differ considerably from that for a spacious maisonette in the suburbs of a medium-sized city.

Proceed as follows:

  1. Define your target group. Would you rather attract families with small children as buyers or is the flat suitable for DINKs (Double Income No Kids)? Is the flat particularly suitable for seniors or people with disabilities due to its accessibility?

  2. Take high-quality photos and / or a presentation video. Shoot each room from different perspectives and make sure there is enough daylight to create a bright, friendly impression. Proceed in a clockwise direction to give prospective buyers a better spatial orientation. Of course, this only works without restrictions if the flat is not currently rented. Otherwise, this must be agreed with the tenant.

  3. Write an attractive exposé with original text. Concentrate in one part on the description of the property and in the other on the description of the neighbourhood. What are the special advantages of your flat and what are the attractions of the immediate surroundings?

  4. Finally, choose suitable channels to distribute your advertisement. Younger target groups in particular are mainly found in social media. On the other hand, you can reach financially strong academics on LinkedIn or Xing.

Sales strategy

The sales strategy should present the advantages of the flat and the area in a way that is appropriate for the target group. It is also advisable to define a price range in advance within which you would like to negotiate.

Would you like to determine the market value of your flat? Use our free property value calculator and get an idea of the possible value of your property.

Exposé & advertisements

A high-quality exposé is the business card of your flat. Here you should leave nothing to chance. The source of information for prospective buyers should contain all the important key data about the property:

  • Number of rooms

  • Living space

  • Condition of the building

  • Year of construction

  • Floor

  • Community of owners

  • Equipment

  • Energy certificate

  • Purchase price

  • Date of occupation

  • Status: rented or free

  • Extras (cellar, parking space, ...)

Individually worded text, accompanied by appealing pictures of the property, gives prospective buyers a concrete idea of your flat. Photos should show interiors and exteriors and be as free as possible from personal belongings. Refrain from long blocks of text and visually lighten up the exposé with lists.

The brochure in digital format serves as a basis for marketing the property easily through various channels. These can be well-known property portals, platforms for classified ads or social media. Blogs, professional networks or local portals can also be suitable for reaching your specific target group with an appealing exposé. In addition, you can use flyers, leaflets or a notice on the property itself.

Viewing appointments

Viewing appointments are one of the most important points for the successful sale of your flat. Make sure that the property is in the best possible condition. You can do the preparation yourself or have a tradesman do it for you. Homestaging agencies specialise in staging your flat in a particularly classy way to emotionally trigger potential buyers.

Have all important documents ready for each viewing appointment and plan enough time for the viewing. If you have a particularly large number of prospective buyers, a collective viewing can make the organisation much easier. Go through possible questions from buyers in your mind in order to be able to provide answers immediately. With a suitable presentation, you can achieve a sales price that is up to 15 % higher. By pre-selecting interested parties, you can shorten the selling time by inviting only people with a presumed intention to buy to a viewing. Real interest in buying exists if there is already a confirmation of financing, several viewings have already taken place and all decision-makers are present at the appointment.


The actual processing of the flat sale includes the sales negotiations, the credit check of the buyers and the drafting of the purchase contract.

Sales negotiations

Conducting sales negotiations requires a certain tact. Try to read between the lines to find out what the potential buyers want. This way you can emphasise the plus points of your flat and put weaknesses into perspective. The purchase price needs to be cleverly chosen for strategic reasons. If it is too high, this could scare off potential buyers. If it is too low, prospective buyers may wonder what might be wrong with the flat. By setting the starting price a little higher than the actual property value, you increase the room for negotiation.

  • Info

    Experts recommend a moderate starting price of 105 to 110 per cent of the flat's value. For very sought-after properties with an open inspection, 120 to 140 percent of the presumed market value is suitable.

Work out arguments beforehand in a checklist. Try to outline buyer types and their motivation as precisely as possible. Don't let yourself be pressured during the negotiations and - if necessary - ask for time to think things over. In case of doubt, you can include inventory such as a fitted kitchen in the negotiating mass to justify the desired price.

Checking the creditworthiness of buyers when selling a flat

Once you have agreed on a purchase price with the prospective buyer, you should check their creditworthiness. This will ensure that the buyer is able to afford the price of the flat, including all ancillary costs (such as land registry costs, land transfer tax and notary fees). Buyers should be prepared to provide self-disclosure via a credit agency (e.g. Schufa).

  • Info

    To ensure that all costs are covered, the notary usually insists on joint and several liability. If the buyer is unwilling or unable to pay, in case of doubt you as the seller can be called upon to pay the notary's fees.

Drawing up the purchase contract

For the purchase contract, the notary first draws up a so-called preliminary contract. Both parties should check this carefully and in every detail. It contains:

  • Names of buyer and seller

  • Purchase price

  • Due date

  • Description of the flat and its location

  • Fixtures and fittings

  • registered encumbrances such as mortgages

  • Defects

  • Date of handover

  • Extract from the land register

  • Declaration of division

The final purchase contract must contain a precise description of the flat and associated property, such as garden plots and cellar rooms. Inventory must be listed separately. In addition, the information in the purchase contract determines when the flat is handed over and which maintenance reserves are to be formed according to the WEG.


For the handover, the conditions for the period between the signing of the purchase contract and the entry in the land register should be regulated; for example, provisions on the transfer and use of the flat and the assumption of the legal status of the owners' association. For example, clarify when house payments must be made or from when the buyer is entitled to receive the rent. By including an exclusion of defects in the purchase contract, you protect yourself from liability for defects after the purchase contract has been signed.

Handover protocol

The handover of the flat to the buyer should be documented with the help of a handover protocol. In most cases, the purchase contract stipulates that the flat is handed over after the purchase price has been paid, sometimes only after it has been entered in the land register. At this point at the latest, you must leave the owner-occupied property and hand over all the keys to the flat to the new owner, e.g. for the cellar rooms, the underground garage and the letterbox.

Walk through the flat together with the buyer, check the technical equipment for proper functioning and document any defects. Hand over all warranty documents and maintenance instructions to the buyer and read the meter readings. If the owners' association has a billing service, inform them of the handover of the flat.

Notary appointment for the sale of the flat

The notary appointment takes place when all formalities between the buyer and the seller have been settled. It seals the legally binding sale of your flat and is required by law. The notary is there to advise both parties. The costs are usually borne by the buyers. The seller is responsible for submitting the documents to the notary.

  • Tip

    Have it confirmed in writing beforehand that the buyer will pay for all incidental purchase costs. In this way you can avoid being stuck with the costs if the prospective buyer drops out at short notice.

Procedure of the notary appointment for the sale of a flat

The procedure at the notary's office is usually the same. It lasts about 50 minutes and begins with the presentation of the identification documents of all parties involved. Then the notary reads out each section of the contract of sale and explains the legal details. You have the opportunity to ask questions or request changes. Afterwards, the buyer, the seller and the notary sign the contract, which then becomes legally binding.

What documents does the notary's office require for the sale of a flat?

The following documents are required for the sale of a flat:

  • Land register extract

  • in the case of inherited property, the certificate of inheritance, provided that no change has yet been made in the land register

  • Building encumbrance register

  • in the case of heritable building rights, the heritable building right contracts

  • Declaration of division

Land register entry

The land register entry is made as soon as the purchase price has been paid to you. It is applied for in the name of the buyer by the notary's office at the land registry. For this purpose, the buyer must submit a certificate from the tax office confirming payment of the land transfer tax. Only after the change in the land register does the transfer of ownership of the flat take place. The registration in the land register can take several weeks to months.

  • Do you have further questions about the sale of your flat? Our experienced estate agents will be happy to advise you.

FAQ: Frequently asked questions


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Tel: +49 40 361310