Anyone of any nationality can buy property in Germany; there are no restrictions whatsoever. It is interesting to note that Germans are not particularly keen on owning property, so the housing market is not quite the cut-throat bidding war that is found in other countries.

Financing

To arrange financing, you can apply for a mortgage for up to 70 percent of the price of the property. If you need the entire amount, additional proof of financial security will need to be presented, possibly from income or other sources. Financing for the purchase of a property or group of properties under €80,000 can be extremely difficult.

If you are not a resident and not working in Germany, banks are more than likely only going to lend you 60% of the buying price.

In order to obtain financing, all financial institutions will request the following information:

  • Two proofs of identification certified at a German Consulate or at a bank agency (passport, driving licence, etc.)
  • Two proofs of your home address (electricity bill, phone bill, etc.)
  • Completed loan application
  • Completed insurance form
  • Letter from your bank stating your financial situation
  • Income tax papers from last three years (Jan – Dec)
  • Last three months bank statements
  • Proof of actual assets (real estate, stock, etc.)
  • Your current loan situation:
  1. Starting & final dates
  2. Initial amount borrowed and outstanding balance
  3. Annual repayment
  • If You Are Company Employed:
  1. Employment letter
  2. Last three salary slips including bonuses
  • If You Are Self Employed:
  1. Last three years balance sheet
  2. Letter from your accountant, certifying your income
  3. Business Certification with your name on it
  • Marriage Certificate (if purchasing together)

In Berlin you have the option between a variable rate mortgages with an interest rate of about 3% or fixed rate mortgages. You should be able to find a fixed rate mortgage of 10 years for just over 3% or a 20-30 yr fixed rate for around 4%.

Mortgage Suppliers

The Purchasing Process

As in every country there are certain procedures for finding an apartment or home and closing the sale. Many offers are published in the newspapers or online. If the ad states that the property is von privat, this means that no real estate agent is involved.

When looking to purchase a home in Germany, it is important to consider the overall investment required. Many of the inexpensive homes advertised may require renovations. Some of the warning signs to be mindful of when looking to purchase are as follows:

  • Grosszügige Räume: Meaning large rooms. This inevitably will be expensive to heat in the colder months.
  • Für Schnellentschlossene (for quick decision-makers): Usually indicates that the property has been on the market for some time and may not be desirable.

There is no law regulating commissions paid to real estate agents, associated with purchasing a property, this is an aspect of the purchase that is therefore negotiable, however in most cases you can expect to pay between 5 and 7 percent of the sale price. This commission can either be paid: solely by the purchaser, split between the purchaser and seller, or paid by the seller. Commission to the agent is paid usually upon arranging contact between the buyer and seller (this means providing full name, contact details and purchase price to the seller), rather than on completion of the sale. If you purchase directly from the seller, without the aid of a realtor, then you will avoid commission.

It is important that you hire an architect to give you a full assessment of the property before you close on the property, especially if it is a renovated property in the former East Berlin. This is due to the lag in EU-standards retrofitting and renovating in the area.

Another crucial member of your purchasing team is your lawyer, who can also double as your notary. Your lawyer can assist you in ensuring that all the paperwork associated with your prospective property is in order (again, a common problem in the former East Berlin). Of particular interest is the land title register (Grundbuch), as this is necessary to secure your mortgage.

Your lawyer should draw up a detailed list of your requests for the property to be included in the sale contract: any work to be done before settlement, elements of the property you do not want taken or worked on, and even issues with the communal areas of the property if you’re buying an apartment.

Once everything is in place, the notary’s office is where the final settlement takes place. The notary reads the contract aloud (in German) in front of all parties and their representatives, and then all parties sign the contract. Make sure to have your passport with you at closing. As the proceedings will be conducted only in German, it is also advisable to arrange a translator to assist you – especially if your Lawyer’s English is not up to the challenge.

Costs and Fees

Costs and fees vary, but can total up to 12 percent of the price of the property; here is a general overview:

  • Notary (Notar) – about 1.5 percent of the purchase price
  • Stamp Duty or Property Tax (Grundsteuer) – 3.5 percent of purchase price
  • Real estate agent (Makler or Immobilienhändler) – between 3.5 percent and about 6 percent of the buying price including VAT. Rate is dependent on the area you’d like to buy in, but is also negotiable.
  • Registration of the property – between 0.8 and 1.2 percent
  • Lawyers fees – €1000, but is money well spent. The real estate laws are complex.

In addition, anytime paperwork that moves through local or federal administrative pipelines usually incurs a fee; it’s usually nominal, but it can add up and should be included in any housing purchase budget.

Resources

The following is a list of some English-speaking lawyers who work in real estate settlement:

Andreas Wucherpfennig
Tel: 030 2268 6456

Breiten Burckhardt Rechtsanwaltsgesellschaft
Kufuerstenstrasse 72-74, 10787 Berlin
Tel: 030 264 710
Fax: 030 2647 1123

Knauthe Rechtsanwaelte
Leipziger Platz 10, 10117 Berlin
Tel: 030 206 700
Fax: 030 206 701 800

Meyer-Koering v Danwitz Privat Law and Tax Advisory
Kronerstrasse 3, 10117 Berlin
Tel: 030 206 2986
Fax: 030 2062 9889

For more information or assistance, visit these sites:

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