Buying a property in Germany
Whether you’re renting a property in Germany or taking the plunge and buying there are some key things you need to bear in mind!
As with all countries, property/rental prices in Germany are at their highest in the most popular locations. The most popular (and therefore most costly) locations in Germany include Munich, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Stuttgart and Hamburg. Berlin is generally the cheapest of all Germany’s major cities. In smaller towns, rural areas and eastern regions renting and purchasing property can be substantially cheaper.
Whether to rent or buy a home is one of the biggest dilemmas expats face. Unless you’re already very familiar with the area you’re relocating to renting for at least the first few months is generally recommended.
With renting it’s important to note that very few flats or houses come furnished, rent is typically due monthly and as well as rental charges tenants have to pay for utilities. The cost of water, heating and electricity generally come in at roughly a quarter of the monthly rent.
In Germany renting is the norm for expats and locals alike (with over half of Germans living in rental accommodation) and there are several options available.
If you’re moving to Germany alone and don’t mind the thought of living with other people then shared flats (or Wohngemeinschaften) are a cost effective option. They can also be a fantastic way of acclimatising yourself and, if you live with locals, a great opportunity for picking up the language.
If you only plan on staying in Germany for a short period, or if you’re renting with a view to buy, then accommodation agencies (known as Mitwohnzentrale) can lease flats on short-term contracts for a commission. Such accommodation agencies are particularly common in University towns.
Accommodation is also listed on the internet and in the property sections of local daily papers. If you choose to use an agent then you can expect to pay a one-off commission of around three months rent.
The majority of landlords will expect a reimbursable deposit of two/three months rent to cover the cost of any damages.
If you decide to buy a German property there are a few key things to bear in mind.
You don’t need to be a German resident to buy a property in the country, but you will need a valid passport.
As the fees involved in buying a German property can be quite hefty it’s really important to do thorough, in-depth research. Know your area, the prices you can expect to pay and be aware of any future costs.
Once you’ve found the property of your dreams and are satisfied with the price you may want to hire the services of an accredited accountant, lawyer and notary. You will then have people to consult with on the details of the contract and people to help ensure the process runs smoothly.
In Germany many properties for purchase are part of apartment complexes, it’s therefore imperative to know exactly what ‘common areas’ you will be accountable for.
If you intend to finance your German purchase with a mortgage you should also remember that typically 30-40 per cent of the property cost must be presented as equity with the mortgage making up the remaining 60-70 per cent.