You are looking to buy a property in Germany? Check out this purchase guideline that will addressing the main considerations and making the right choice when buying your new home in Germany!
Why to buy a property in Germany?
Buying a property in Germany is also regarded to be relatively cheap than most countries in Europe such as France, United Kingdom and Switzerland. Suppose you are thinking whether to rent or to buy a property in Germany, in that case, you should consider the following market facts:
- Rental prices are tremendously increase in most large cities of Germany
- Your rent might quickly soar in the next years and become much less affordable
- House sale prices are increasing at double-digit rates throughout German main cities
- The apartment that you buy would be ca. 20% cheaper today than in 2 years
- German mortgage rates are currently at historical lowest levels
In this view, buying a property in Germany is definitely a good idea, a security for the future and a great investment! . Apartment sale prices have been rising significantly in recent times in major German cities like Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Berlin, but still, they are moderate than other comparable cities such as London and Paris. Large German cities have different house prices, which can be a good consideration for you. Berlin, for example, offers better prices than other cities despite being the capital city of Germany. If you want to buy a property in Germany, the following are some considerations that you need to put in place.
Budget for buying a property in Germany
Before you decide to buy a property in Germany, you must consider how much you want to spend. Real estates in German cities are categorized into several different groups with respect to their construction date and considering that these apartments attract different sale prices. For example, buildings that are constructed before 1920 (Altbau in German) consist of historic and stylish period designs and enjoy government protection status. Altbau building are not only well-regarded due to their authentic features but also to their location in most sought-after areas. New-build (Neubau in German) apartments consist of modern buildings with modern materials, lifts, parking spots, energy-efficiency… When you buy a new-build home, you are given a 5-year warranty. These buildings offer modern comfort but they are more expensive so that’s and you need to consider your budget before deciding what type to buy.
Getting a German property mortgage
Buying a property in Germany might prove to be challenging at times where the residential real estate prices are tremendously increasing and that is why you need to consider taking loans from a German bank to make your dream come true. It’s also a question of opportunity as German mortgage rates are now at historical low levels so if you have a possibility to get a property mortgage in Germany, you should absolutely cease it!
The most interesting thing is that if you are a foreigner, you will still secure a mortgage since Germany does not restrict foreigners from owning properties or obtaining mortgages from their banks. Most German banks will require you to make a minimum deposit of 5 to 20 percent with them, or the bank can demand that you provide evidence that you have been regularly saving with them before they can decide to assist you. If you manage to secure a mortgage with German banks, this will open to you more perspectives, you can significantly increase your purchase budget and definitely have more options to buy your property in Germany!
Which purchase price for your property in Germany?
Real estate prices vary greatly depending in which city you would like to buy your property in Germany. Within every city, apartments fetch different sale prices depending on the district that they are located, its popularity and housing demand. The following are high-level price indications for some of the major German cities such as Hamburg, Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf, Cologne and Stuttgart.
Currently Munich tops the sale price charts for buying a property in Germany with almost 10.000€ per sqm and the demand is so strong that the trend is continuing. Munich and the Bavaria region has a world-class industrial sector with top global manufacturers in heavy industries, cars, pharmaceuticals and has a fast-growing digital scene.
Frankfurt comes in the second, position with 7.000€ per square meter. The capital city of Hesse region is recognized for its dynamic financial district, trade sector and as the main business and air hub of the country. This makes of Frankfurt a great destination for safe long-term real estate investment.
It goes without saying that Berlin represents currently THE PLACE to buy a property in Germany, either for investment or for self-use. The city enjoys not only an outstanding economic dynamism backed by its digital sector, but the capital of Germany is by far the most popular and international city of Germany. Meanwhile, house prices in Berlin still ranks 5th amongst major German cities with ca. 5600 EUR per m2.
Then comes Stuttgart, a city known for its flourishing industry that have given some of the best German blue chips like Bosch, Daimler, Valeo and Kärcher. The region of Stuttgart is also a great place to live with its country side and highly rated wine territory. Buying a new home in such a balanced region remains affordable with an average house sale price of ca. 6200€ EUR in Stuttgart.
Other main German cities
The average property sale price in Hamburg is ca. 6500€ per m2 when it comes to a residential property. Hamburg is mostly known for its trade center that ranks number one amongst EU countries.
Other main cities like Cologne in North Rhine-Westphalia, Dresden in Saxony, and Kiel represent interesting opportunities to buy a property in Germany with house sale prices “just” between 3500 EUR and 5000 EUR per m2.
The graph below shows the average house prices in Germany’s main cities as well a the expected budget to calculate when buying a property of ca. 50m2 for every city. Please not that the figures are simply averages and that they can hide substantial disparities related to the area, the construction year, the apartment condition, the type of building, the tenancy status…
Main considerations when buying a property in Germany
Find the right property in Germany
The best way to find a property is to search in main local property platforms. You can find there most of marketplace properties, but the issue is that they are mostly in German. Some international platforms such as Zoopla offer a large choice of properties for sale in Germany with detailed descriptions in English. Your second option is to look for real estate agencies as they act as middleman between buyers and sellers during property transactions. The real estate agents will first understand your needs, take down your criteria, advice you on best options and assist you in finding the right apartment. The second advantage is that German real estate agents work with success-based fees so unless they find you the right apartment, you do not have to incur any fee. You can easily find on internet some English-speaking estate agents in Germany such as First Citiz that will make all the job for you and assist you within the purchase process.
Check the surrounding environment of the property
Every district in a large city has its unique features and characteristics. You need to conduct thorough research on the environment that best suits you then purchase a property in that place. You need to ask yourself questions like, if you stay in a new apartment that you have bought, does it offer you a clear proximity to facilities, green areas, parks, transportation…? Or are the rooms enough to cater to all your needs? If so, then you have every reason to make a purchase. If you work in the city, it will be helpful if you choose to buy your new home in an area that will give you an easy time when commuting to and from your place of work. Consider also whether the place has got social amenities nearby such as shopping centers, restaurants, hospitals, and transport facilities, and then make your decision whether to buy in that area or not.
Assessing taxes to pay when buying an apartment in Germany?
Every German region requires a certain percentage in taxes on real estate transactions’ registry. Depending on the city where you want to buy a property in Germany, you’ll pay a different registry rate. For example, it could be 6% in Frankfurt, 4,5% Munich, 6,5% in Düsseldorf 6% in Berlin or 4,5% in Hamburg. Therefore, you might need a tax consultant or a notary office to assist you with taxes when buying your new apartment. Real estate agents are generally aware of this, so should you buy your property in Germany via an estate agent, you can directly get the information. On top of land registry fee, you should also calculate the notary fees and other side costs such as ownership registration fees. You should also understand that if you want to in order to sell your property in Germany without paying taxes, German regulations require, you need at least live in that apartment for three consecutive years . If you don’t reside in the apartment, then you can decide the sale after ten years. Failure to respect these conditions might cause significant tax burden from the sale proceeds.
Having a survey of your new property
Buildings in Germany have to meet some legal requirements concerning the roofing, windows, and heating system, among other requirements both for a residential building and a commercial building. Before you buy a house in Germany, ask the owner or the Agent to guide you through it to confirm whether the building meets these requirements. Ask them also to give you details concerning monthly expenses in the apartment and let them give you clear explanations regarding items that can be shared jointly with others in the apartment. Remember to also request to know about the general layout of the apartment. When you understand this information regarding the apartment, you will be able to make an informed decision on whether to purchase it or not.
What about buying a house in a public auction?
There are many real estates that are sold in German public auctions, and this can be a good option for you to consider when you want to buy a cheap apartment. You might be able to view the properties that are up for auction so that you are sure that it is genuine. You are also given the opportunity to have access to the property’s documents but make you understand everything. This type of opportunities involves, however, some risks if you are not an expert or insider of the local real estate market. Take into consideration that you can only enter an auction center with a deposit that represents more or less 10% the property’s auction starting sale price.
Property sale process in Germany
Before you can decide to buy a property in Germany, it will be crucial to factor in the duration that you intend to stay in the city, decide on the possibility of renting than making a purchase. If you intend to relocate at some point, then be sure to make arrangements on how you will sell your apartment or rent it out. If after you bought it and lived there for 3 years or more, then you can make a tax-free sale. If you bought an investment property, the sale tax relief would be effective after 10 years of holding the property. Out of those case you will have to pay capital gain tax starting from ca. 15% percent of the gain earned from the sale proceeds after deduction of your costs (i.e. renovation, notary, agent…).
Germany can be a good place for any person who wants to buy an apartment. It does not have restrictions for foreigners, has low mortgage rates and house sale prices are relatively fair compared to other countries in Europe. It goes without saying that buying real estate in Germany would be a safe and profitable investment. Whether you reside in Germany or not, don’t hesitate to purchase your dream apartment since if you adhere to the set guidelines and regulations, everything will work smoothly for you.
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