For most people, buying property in Germany is not only a solid investment but also a place where they and their family spend the rest of their lives. Unless they are required to move, most people in Germany will not abandon the house they bought or even built themselves. Thus when they decide on buying property in Germany, most people take their time because for them, it is usually a permanent decision. Moreover, compared to other countries, a larger percentage of the population in Germany prefers renting their home to buying property in Germany.
Generally, buying a house is possible for foreigners and there are no restrictions. Although you can buy a house in Germany if you do not have a German residence permit, buying property in Germany does not automatically entitle you to such a permit. However, there are some downsides for expats who have decided on buying property in Germany. For instance, financing is more difficult when you intend to stay for a rather short period as buying a house is regarded as a long-term investment. This also influences the high commission rates for real-estate agents and other costs.
Buying a house in Germany takes a considerable degree of preparation. There are no for-sale signs in the front yards in Germany, so you cannot just go knocking on doors and end up buying property in Germany directly from the former owner. Instead, houses and apartments are mostly sold by agents. No matter whether an offer is listed in a newspaper or online, the property is very likely to be tied to a real-estate agency. If you want to avoid buying property in Germany via a real-estate agency, you should look for ads including the words “Privatverkauf” or “von Privat” (private sale).
However, the weekend issues of local, regional, and even national newspapers as well as online resources are a good starting point to find a variety of real-estate offers. We recommend getting a general overview of the local market, as real-estate prices vary from city to city and even neighborhood to neighborhood. Buying property in Germany’s east can generally be a lot cheaper than in extremely popular cities like Munich or Hamburg, for instance.
Apart from a vast number of private agents or real-estate companies, a lot of banks, especially the local Sparkassen (savings banks) offer property for sale as well. This can be of advantage when you plan to finance your new home with the help of the same bank.
You will inevitably come across real-estate agencies when scanning the newspaper ads, but you might as well contact them directly to have access to all of their current offers. Just search for Immobilienmakler (real-estate agent) in the phonebook or use the database of the German Real Estate Association (Immobilien Verband Deutschland). Here you can find tax advisors, public notaries, surveyors, and other experts.
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