Milestones to successfully sell a property in Germany

Looking to sell a property in Germany? In general, selling an apartment or a house requires a good preparation and good understanding of the sale process in the country and area where the apartment is located. In Germany, the legal framework and sale tax implication are quite sophisticated and differ by city region. In this view, it’s better to assessed in advance all factors and implications, in order to avoid complications later during the property selling process in Germany. After the preparation, one should go through the transaction steps and/or rely on a qualified real estate agent to fully assist and path the way for the sale transaction.

Does it worth it to sell a property in Germany?

The answer cannot be general as its subject to every landlord personal situation. In general, having an apartment in Germany is considered as good and stable investment, it’s kind of life insurance so better to keep it when possible. However, if you plan other personal projects (i.e., relocating outside Germany, buying a house in your homeland, retirement…) or want to take advantage from tax exemptions on your apartment sale (i.e., self-occupied apartment, over 10 years of holding period in Germany) it might be a good opportunity to sell your apartment. In absolute 2022 is a good year to sell a property in Germany as bank interest rates for mortgage lending are relatively low. On the other side, there is a strong residential real estate market demand, especially for self-use apartments, so the timing for selling is perfect. This especially the case in large international German cities with strong housing demand such as Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Köln and especially for small & medium sizes flats (studios, one and two bedrooms apartments). Indeed, if the property is located in a sought-after  residential central city area (i.e. Berlin-Mitte, Charlottenburg,  Prenzlauer Berg) , where many international buyers look for new offers either for rent or for sale (new and period buildings), you’ll likely reach an optimal market price with the help of a specialized agent.

Check your property selling taxation in Germany

Preparing for selling your property in Germany can take several aspects. The first aspect to check would be obviously for the taxes on resale in Germany. One can check the estimated amount of tax to pay on your apartment selling proceeds with a tax advisor or with trustable online tax calculators. Please note that taxes in Germany are organized by region areas (called Land in German). In addition to new regulations, for instance, there might be substantial differences when selling a house in Berlin (Brandenburg area), Frankfurt (Hessen area) , Munich (Bavarian area…) or Hamburg…  You might have a good surprise in some cases where you are fully exempted from paying any tax in Germany (Yes, it exists and not a new thing!!!). It could be the opposite way around where your sale proceeds would be highly taxed either in Germany or in your own country. Then it might put the overall project of selling your home or buy-to-let on hold. And this why checking taxes should always be the first step of a selling your property in Germany or elsewhere!

Being confident of what do you have (or not) to pay, would definitely avoid you surprises and/or disappointment later during the sale process. Same for mortgages, if you have a pending mortgage on the flat, you might ask your bank about potential penalties for a mortgage early prepayment.

Collect the German property documents

When selling a property in Germany, the seller needs to provide a comprehensive real estate documentation. The documents (Unterlagen in German) are necessary for the signature of the purchase and sale agreement at the notary in Germany. They also help the buyer to get deeper insight into the house condition, management company, and planned works in the community house.

It happens that some years after having bought an apartment, one does not get hold all the documents. This especially the case for people who have bought 10 or 20 years ago an apartment in Germany and did not keep the documents accordingly stored (i.e., moved out in between…). Our advice is to take time check your old emails, and you’ll find some key documents. You can also talk to your real estate agent that can help completing this on your behalf.

Period apartment building in Munich, Germany
New-build property in Berlin, Germany

Assessing the value of your property

The valuation of your property in Germany is obviously one of the most important steps in the sale process. You should get a clear opinion of what you might realistically get as a purchase offer on the real estate market for your apartment. To have an idea about your property valuation in Germany, you might have on similar properties on the residential German real estate market, check platforms or hire a professional real estate agent. The latter can view the apartment, prepare a professional value estimate, and help you see clearer about your property valuation in Germany. It is always a big plus when the real estate agent has a track record of sold properties in the city area where your apartment is located. For instance, if you sell an apartment in the area of Berlin Charlottenburg, better to hire a real estate agency with active/recent sales in West Berlin areas, same for Berlin Mitte or any area in any large city in Germany…A real estate expert can also give more insights into the current situation of the German residential real estate market, the recent real estate prices trends and the steps to sell your property in Germany in general.

It goes without saying that if you want to get an optimal property valuation in Germany, the apartment needs to be presented under its best condition and that this will significantly influence the apartment sale timeline as well as the selling price. In this way, if you can make some renovation and put some new decoration in the apartment, this will be a great idea. Please note that some real estate agents offer free property valuation services and that meeting directly a real estate agent is the best way to know whether he/she qualifies well for the sale of your apartment in Germany.

Select the right real estate agent in Germany

As mentioned earlier, selling a property in Germany requires a good understanding of the legal and administrative framework. If you have a good experience in selling properties in Germany, you might be better off selling the apartment yourself. If not, better to call for a professional who knows well the residential real estate market in the area, monitors the sale process and securely guides you throughout the steps of selling a property in Germany. But, how would one select the right real estate agent? The best real estate agent is not necessarily the one who provided the best valuation of your property in Germany. Some real estate agents might boost the real estate valuation just to get the sale order but then won’t deliver.

What’s important in choosing your real estate agent, is not only a professional real estate valuation and deep real market knowledge but also other considerations. You should also make your choice based on mix of good trust & communication, years of experience in the area, industry awards, and strong track-record in the residential real estate market in Germany. For this prepare, you might make a short list of your favorite real estate agents, based on customer reviews, quality website, awards. Then have a chat or meeting (i.e., during the real estate valuation process) to select the right real estate agent for you.

Some criteria such as the international outreach remain crucial to successfully selling a property in Germany. Especially when it comes to large and international German cities like Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, and Düsseldorf, hiring an international real estate agent is a big plus. This would definitely maximize your chances to get the highest selling price, as most of buyers are expatriates or international.

Communication is crucial when you hire a real estate agent to sell your property in Germany
Property valuation in Germany is the first step for a successful apartment sale process

List the property on the market

The listing duration to sell a property in Germany generally takes one to six months, until getting the final buyer. This period depends firstly on the quality of the listing (photos, text,) and in this view having a multilingual listing helps to attract more potential home buyers, especially in large German cities. The presentation of the apartment itself plays a crucial role to give an optimal impression during the viewings. Of course, the main factor influencing the listing period remains the selling price and how realistic it is compared to similar new offers on the residential real estate market. A successful listing process ends with a purchase offer from an approved creditworthy apartment buyer.

Few English-speaking real estate agencies are active in Berlin and Germany-wide and can offer a premium international listing service. If you hire an international real estate agency such as First Citiz, they will list your apartment worldwide and get you the best international buyers and investors, in addition to qualified buyers throughout Germany. Having more German and international prospective home buyers will generate obviously more selling opportunities and likely the best selling price of your apartment in Germany.

Complete the sale process in Germany

Once you get an interesting purchase offer in line with your selling expectations, the official selling process would start with the potential buyer. When you sell a property in Germany, you will have several parties involved such as a public notary, house management, city district office, translators, real estate agents, lawyer of the potential buyer …If you speak German and have some experience in similar transactions in Germany, that would quite be simple to manage. Otherwise, you can get an advisor or a real estate agent to manage for you the paperwork and the to coordinate between parties. 

In general, you should calculate 2-3 months after the signature of the purchase and sale agreement in Germany. Then you will get the selling price of your apartment on your bank account and complete the official apartment ownership transfer in the land registry to the person who buys your apartment in Germany.

Conclusion

When you sell a property in Germany, you should get an optimal preparation to avoid any unwelcome surprise in the middle of the process. You also should talk to the right people and trust the right real estate agent that will ensure for a comprehensive service and assist you from A to Z during the property selling process in Germany.

If you are planning to sell a property in Berlin, First Citiz agent will help you to choose the right options, maximizing your selling price, and completing your property sale in Germany in all serenity. In this view, First Citiz team offers a free real estate valuation service for your property in Germany.

Example of recently sold properties (new & period) in Berlin

10243 Berlin, Apartment for sale, Friedrichshain

Sold by First Citiz: ready to move: Brand-new apartment easily transformable into 2-room

Franz-Mehring Platz
Berlin - Friedrichshain
Rooms:
1
Property size:
38.69 m²
Floor:
2
12051 Berlin, Apartment for sale, Neukölln

Sold: Charming 2-room apartment with spacious balcony in front of Schillerkiez – Neukölln

Warthestraße
Berlin - Neukölln
Rooms:
2
Property size:
52 m²
Floor:
4
10435 Berlin, Apartment for sale, Prenzlauer Berg

Sold with First Citiz: Unique 2-room Duplex apartment on Kastanienallee!

Kastanienallee
Berlin - Prenzlauer Berg
Rooms:
2
Property size:
46.97 m²
Floor:
Ground floor
10243 Berlin, Apartment for sale, Friedrichshain

Newly Sold: Top location near Karl-Marx-Allee: Brand-new 2-room apartment with balcony

Franz-Mehring Platz
Berlin - Friedrichshain
Rooms:
2
Property size:
54.46 m²
Floor:
6
10781 Berlin, Apartment for sale, Schöneberg

Sold with First Citiz: Brand-new luxurious development in Shöneberg close to Winterfeldt Platz

Pallasstraße
Berlin - Schöneberg
Rooms:
2
Property size:
47.03 m²
Floor:
4
10243 Berlin, Apartment for sale, Friedrichshain

Brand-new studio apartment on top floor with spacious balcony in Friedrichshain

Franz-Mehring Platz
Berlin - Friedrichshain
Rooms:
1
Property size:
36.31 m²
Floor:
6