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Project Expat
  • Project Expat
  • May 20, 2021

Buying Property in Germany

The most common mistakes while buying property in Germany

Checklist for Home Inspection

1. One should commit to a specific location

When you plan on buying property in Germany, looking at different locations lets you lose your focus. Increasing your chances of finding a low-cost residence, researching specific areas will allow you to familiarize yourself with the location you are looking to call home.

2. One pays attention to the wrong things in property inspection

When examining properties in Germany, it may not be a major issue if walls are dirty; however, attention should be devoted to outdated windows or heating systems as they can be pricey to repair or replace. Some communities of owners are saving money on a monthly basis to pay for major repairs. So, before buying 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

Be sure to create a checklist before visiting and inspecting a potential property – this way, you won’t forget any important details. Many potential buyers do not ask for the blueprint of a building or apartment. Due to the inability to verify the size of a property through advertising, it is difficult for people to exercise control over a situation. Therefore, it is essential for one to strategically evaluate what is important on a personal level in order to make an informed decision. This should be done before you shortlist a few homes for sale in Germany and get a viewing appointment.

4. Don’t fool yourself

The property is cheap for a reason. It may need major repairs soon. You should always assess and calculate carefully to ascertain the final cost of the property. 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. In addition to paying the real estate agent, one also has to pay taxes when buying property. These incidental costs are normally 15% of the purchasing price and are often forgotten about.

Extra tips

Whether you are an EU citizen or not, there are some things you should consider before trying to find a place to rent in Germany. The majority of landlords in Germany are friendly and fair, but there are some who aren’t. Because of this, it is important to follow some rules which will protect you as a tenant. Many Germans are able to speak at least some English, but being able to speak the language fluently will give you a better chance of being chosen as a tenant. If you do not speak German or have difficulty understanding the German language, you should bring an interpreter or friend with you when you first talk to the landlord or broker.

Learning German Goes A Long Way 

It is important to be able to speak German when renting an apartment in Germany, as the contract will be in German and any legal declarations made during the tenancy will only be legally binding if they are made in German.

An exception to the language rule can occur if the landlord speaks your language or uses a bilingual rental agreement in which the second language is expressly agreed to be the contractual language. 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 about you, the more likely he or she is to decide in favour of renting to you.

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:

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

As proof of your ability to pay, landlords in Germany will often ask to see your income information or a SCHUFA report. SCHUFA is a database that records almost all people living in Germany, including whether they have any outstanding debts. This is useful for landlords because it provides another way to confirm that the tenant is likely to be able to make their rental payments.

Fill in the self-assessment form

The landlord usually wants the potential tenant to fill out a “self-assessment” form, which is basically a questionnaire that asks for the following information:

  • Personal details about the applicant, such as name, marital status, whether they have any children, etc.
  • Contact information, such as email address, current address, phone number, etc.
  • Employment information, such as whether the applicant is a student or employed full-time by company X (or other explanation of how income is earned).
  • Other information: Such as regarding previous tenancies, etc.

The last important fact to know about finding apartments or houses for rent in Germany is that tenants are legally required to pay for getting the property on rent. This is usually three times the rent without heating and additional costs. It is paid into a savings book and stays there until the end of the tenancy.

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Testimonials

I think that would be a great initiative and an added value service for expats like myself.

Leonardo

What a great idea to set up a website for English-speaking ex-pat's in Munich to help with everyday challenges.

Loana

I am looking forward to your services in the mentioned topics in the survey.

Surya

Sounds exciting and we would definitely use it for a myriad of reasons. Particularly as we are getting ready to move to Germering and require all of these services. Specifically, sometimes it is hard finding doctors who speak English. And both Cecilia and I work with auslanders who do not speak German, either (and would as well be interested).

Melody