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Project Expat
  • Project Expat
  • May 20, 2021

Housing in Germany

The most common mistakes while buying property

1. One should commit to a specific location
When you plan to buy house in Germany, looking at different locations lets you lose your focus. By considering only one or two areas, you’ll get to know the parts of the city you want to live in and your chances to find cheap apartment or house will increase.

2. One pays attention to the wrong things in property inspection
When looking at homes for sale in Germany, you may ignore the walls of the apartment that are dirty because it’s not a big deal. However, windows that are old or malfunctioning/outdated heating systems are important facts to pay attention to, because they are much more expensive to repair or replace. In some communities of owners, money is being saved on a monthly basis to be able to pay for major repairs. So, before you buy property in Germany, make sure the owner community has enough money for such things.

3. You don’t have a checklist for the viewing appointment
Before visiting and looking at the property, make sure you have a checklist. If you don’t do this, many little things won’t be remembered for long. Many potential buyers do not ask for the blueprint of a building or apartment. Therefore, they can’t exercise control over the situation as there’s no way to verify if the property is as big as mentioned in the advertisement. Therefore, it is important to think strategically with structured thoughts to realize what is important to you on a personal level. And this should be done before you shortlist a few from the list of homes for sale in Germany and get a viewing appointment.

4. Don’t fool yourself
When the property is pretty cheap, try to find what might be the reason behind it. Is everything ok or are major repairs needed sometime soon? Proper evaluation and calculation are important to ensure you always know how much the property will cost you in the end. Only buy it if you can afford it. Otherwise, get your hands off it!

5. Don’t forget the incidental costs
Buying property in Germany is a bit different than in other countries. After you have found the right apartment and the price is suitable, the process doesn’t involve signing a contract. In Germany, only an attesting notary can sign the contract. This means additional costs for you and the owner. Furthermore, one has to pay taxes when buying property in addition to paying the real estate agent. Normally, these incidental costs are 15 % of the purchasing price. These costs are often forgotten but still must be paid.

Of course, you don’t have to buy property when moving to Germany. Regardless of whether you are non-EU citizens or EU citizens, tips on what to consider if you want to find houses for rent in Germany are important because Germany is the land of the petty bourgeois. Although the majority of the landlords are friendly and fair, some aren’t and try to betray their future tenants. Therefore, rules must, unfortunately, be followed but these rules protect the tenants as well. Although many Germans are able to speak some level of English, the language is the key to being chosen as a tenant. If you do not speak German or if you have difficulty in understanding the German language, you should bring an interpreter or friend with you when you first talk to the landlord or broker.

Whether for the first personal introduction, for contract negotiations, or when concluding the rental contract, the German language is very important for renting an apartment in Germany. That’s because the text of the contract is generally in German and all legal declarations made during the tenancy are usually only legally valid in German.

An exception with regard to the language can apply if the landlord speaks your language or uses a bilingual rental agreement in which the second language is expressly agreed as the contractual language. It is important to know that as a foreign applicant for a rental apartment in Germany, you do not have to present more documents than a German applicant. The more positive details a landlord knows, the more likely he or she is to decide in favour of a particular tenant.

But you should bring these documents with you to the landlord for the first viewing appointment:

  • ID, passport, or other documents about your identity
  • (Temporary) residence permit or visa

The following documents are not mandatory, but give a plus-point to the applicant profile:

  • Letter of reference from a previous landlord: If the original is in a foreign language, it is worth attaching a translated version. This is how the landlord sees your efforts and also has the original in mind.
  • If you, as a foreigner, are looked after by an organization here in Germany or are part of a corresponding association, you can also bring a letter of reference from there about your reliability.

It is also very useful to bring proof of your solvency with you. As proof of solvency and willingness to pay, landlords in Germany regularly request information on income or the so-called SCHUFA information. Such information is a printout from a database that records almost all people living in Germany. For example, it is stored there whether and where someone is indebted. For landlords, this is an additional positive confirmation that the tenant’s solvency is most likely secured in addition to the income confirmation and the provision of the so-called “rental security”.

Fill in the self-assessment form

German landlords regularly want you to fill out a so-called “self-assessment” form. This “self-disclosure” is a questionnaire in which the following information is mainly asked:

  • Personal details about yourself: such as the name of the prospective tenant, whether he/she is single or married, has children, etc.
  • Accessibility data: such as e-mail, current place of residence, mobile number, etc.
  • Data on the activity: such as student, self-employed, work for employer X or other explanation of how income is earned, such as state payments with the name of the public body.
  • Other information: such as regarding previous tenancies, etc.

The last important fact one has to know about finding apartments or houses for rent in Germany is that the tenant is bound by law to pay for getting the property on rent. It is usually three times the rent you pay without heating and additional costs. It is paid onto a savings book and stays there until the end of the tenancy.

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