Buying a property is a major financial decision that requires lots of research and preparation. Below are some things to consider if you are thinking about buying a house in Germany.
What to look for when buying a house in Germany
It’s a decision that can’t be rushed. Be an informed buyer and make sure you’re fully prepared by researching all of the following.
What types of housing are available in Germany? What are current house prices like and are they going down or up? Is now the best time to buy?
Financing & Mortgages in Germany
Get your finances in order. What can you afford? Take account of your current expenditure on food, childcare (for instance daycare or schools), taxes and insurance. Would you be eligible for a German mortgage and, if so, how much would your monthly payments be? Do you need to save up for a bigger deposit to reduce your mortgage costs? Are you eligible for any government homeownership loans or subsidies?
Consult with a mortgage advisor to get an estimate of your maximum budget for a house before you start looking. Don’t be tempted to go for a property outside of your budget range, as your mortgage application is likely to be rejected.
What is the ideal location for your new home? What things are must-haves, and what can you compromise on? Are you willing to sacrifice larger bedrooms and a garden for closer proximity to shops and amenities? Do you need to be close to schools and public transportation?
Utilities & Additional costs
How much would the house cost to run? If you’re buying an apartment, are you expected to pay additional costs or service charges (Nebenkosten) to the building’s management? How much is the current owner spending on utilities like energy, water and phone line? Is there a fast internet connection? How much would home insurance cost?
If you’re buying with the intention of renting out the property, consider how much money rentals can fetch. Are there already tenants in place? Remember that German rental contracts generally favour the tenant, which can make it difficult for landlords to turn properties over to new uses.
House-hunting in Germany: Hints & Tips
To help you track down your dream home, and make sure your purchase is the right one, we’ve put together these hints and tips:
- Get ahead of the competition by making friends with your real estate agent. They can get you into houses that have only just come onto the market.
- At house viewings, don’t be afraid to ask too many questions: how many viewings has the house had? Have there been any offers? How long has it been on the market? Why are the sellers moving? Is there a chain?
- Try not to visit too many properties in one day and take photos that you can refer back to later.
- View the property at different times of the day to get an idea what the place looks like in different lighting and what the neighbourhood is like.
- Note that properties in Germany come completely unfurnished, i.e. without a kitchen or even light fittings. See if you can negotiate with the current owners to buy fixtures off of them. Otherwise you will probably need to buy your furniture from scratch.