Buying property in Germany
Located in central Europe, Germany is known for its solid economy, high quality of life, classical music and the famous Oktoberfest in Munich. Berlin has become one of the most visited capital cities in Europe because of its cosmopolite charm and historic value for Germany and Europe. However, Germany has a lot more to offer: The great variety of landscapes - the traditional Black forest or the Bavarian Alps close to Munich, the Nordic Islands in the North Sea like Sylt with its big natural reserves - invite lots of tourists each year.
Germany is highly decentralised, so there are many big cities that offer a high quality of life, such as Hamburg, one of the greenest German cities, with its famous Elbphilharmonie or Frankfurt, the home to the German financial district. With London affected by Brexit, Germany has become one of the most interesting property markets. We are glad to present you the following a guideline on “How to buy a property in Germany” as a foreigner.
Buying property in Germany as a foreigner
There are no restrictions for foreign buyers who want to buy a property in Germany, even if they are non-resident and non-EU nationals. Please note that as a non-European investor owning a property in Germany does not give you the right to a permanent residence.¹ It’s advisable to consult your local embassy for further information.
What do real estate agents do in Germany
Real estate agents usually work freelance and need to register their business at the municipality to obtain a specific permit.² All real estate agents at Engel & Völkers take part in special training courses at our in-house Academy. For this reason our agencies are trustworthy partners who support you with our knowledge and market experience through the whole sales process. German real estate agents usually act as mediators between seller & buyer. Normally, the buyer is responsible for paying the real estate agency commission.³ The amount of the real estate agency commission depends on the market specific standards of the different federal states. Therefore it’s important to double check the particular region to get to know the exact amount of the real estate agency commission.
How to buy property in Germany
Making a written offer to proclaim interest in a property involves an unusual procedure in Germany. Real estate contracts need notarisation by the Notary Public for a legally binding transfer of the property.⁴ Sometimes a reservation agreement is done, but preliminary contracts are rather unusual in Germany.
The Notary Public
It is usually required that buyers already present a fixed financing confirmation before a notary contract will be signed. In most cases all purchase terms such as the day of payment, the day of handover to the new owners, are included in the contract. In order to sign the contract, seller & buyer need an appointment with the Notary Public. The contract is going to be read aloud by the Notary Public in German or if necessary, also in English by a qualified translator. Please note that the signed notarised contract is in most cases legally binding immediately after signing it.⁵ Usually, the Notary Public will perform the next actions needed, including all applications in the so-called Grundbuch - the land title registry.⁶
Approximately two to twelve weeks may pass from the time of signing the notary contract until receiving the land title register confirmation. However, this has no bearing on when investors can take over the house as their own. Usually, the purchaser can take possession the moment the purchase price is paid in full to the seller, but it also depends on the type of purchase contract. It is advisable to consult with your local real estate agency for further information.
The costs & taxes of buying real estate in Germany are usually borne by the buying party, but the exact amount and specific regulations also depend on the Federal State of the property.⁸ It is advisable to consult with the local real estate agency for further information.
Closing costs in Germany
(Figure 1): Transaction Costs German Real Estate Market⁷
Property Taxes in Germany
Every property owner in Germany is liable to pay real property tax. The tax rate depends on the type of property, on the Federal State and on the use of the property.⁹
How to get a mortgage in Germany
Foreign investors are able to get a loan in Germany under certain circumstances. Due to the rather conservative nature of German lenders, an in-depth analysis of the mortgage applicant’s financial situation is common. The application may require specific documentation, thus it is best to consult your local bank for further information.
Property prices in Germany
¹ Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz (2016): § 5 Abs. (1 AufenthG) Allgemeine Erteilungsvoraussetzungen; Gesetz über den Aufenthalt, die Erwerbstätigkeit und die Integration von Ausländern im Bundesgebiet, [online] http: //www.gesetze-im-internet.de/aufenthg_2004/__5.html [13.07.2017]
² Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz (2016): § 34c (GewO) Makler, Bauträger, Baubetreuer; Gewerbeordnung [online]https://www.gesetze-im- internet.de/gewo/__34c.html [13.07.2017]
³ European Law Firm(2011/2012);Purchasing Real Estate in Europe,[online] https://www.purchasing-real-estate-in-europe201011.pdf [13.07.2017]
⁴ Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz (2002): § 311b (BGB) Verträge über Grundstücke, das Vermögen und den Nachlass [online] https://www.gesetze-im- internet.de/bgb/__311b.html [13.07.2017]
⁵ Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz (2002) :§ 311b (BGB) Verträge über Grundstücke, das Vermögen und den Nachlass [online] https://www.gesetze-im- internet.de/bgb/__311b.html [13.07.2017]
⁶ Bundesministerium der Justiz und für Verbraucherschutz(2017): § 873 (BGB) Erwerb durch Einigung und Eintragung [online] https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bgb/__873.html [13.07.2017]
⁷ IVD, Interhyp AG, Engel & Völkers Residential GmbH (June, 2017); Disclaimer: All information has been compiled with the greatest possible care. We cannot accept any liability for the accuracy and completeness of this information. We shall not be held responsible for damage of any kind whatsoever incurred either directly or indirectly through the use of this information, with the exception of liability for intent or gross negligence. Last update of information and data published: May 2017. Duplication only with reference to source, source: Engel & Völkers Residential GmbH.
⁸ IVD, Interhyp AG, Engel & Völkers Residential GmbH (June, 2017)
⁹ GTAI Germany Trade &; Invest; Taxation of Property; [online] https://www.gtai.de/GTAI/Navigation/EN/Invest/Investment-guide/The- tax-system/taxation- of-property.html[13.07.2017]