New German law partially relieves house buyers of real estate agent fees

New German law partially relieves house buyers of real estate agent fees

Anyone buying a house in Germany usually has to reckon with some pretty steep real estate agent fees - even if the property broker was actually engaged by the seller. Now, however, the federal government has stepped in to partially relieve buyers of that burden. 

Property buyers and sellers to split brokerage fees

The practice of forcing property buyers to pay all or most of the real estate agent fees is slowly coming to an end. In future, anyone buying a property in Germany will only have to pay a maximum of half of the total brokerage costs. A draft law to this effect, drawn up by the federal government, has been approved by the federal council. 

In future, the buyer will only have to transfer their share of the estate agent’s fee once the seller has proven they have paid their half. The federal council decision states: “In future, it will no longer be possible for sellers to pass the full commission on to the buyer.” The law should come into force at the end of the year at the latest. 

Estate agent commission can be tens of thousands of euros

The sharing of brokerage costs will come as a relief to property buyers, especially in cities with particularly overheated housing markets where prices have skyrocketed. Since the brokerage fee is based on the purchase price - it varies from state to state, but can be up to seven percent plus VAT - it can quickly amount to tens of thousands of euros. 

While the federal government promoted the new law as a means to protect buyers from exploitation, others remain doubtful as to whether it will provide any real financial relief in practice. Florin Becker of the Bauherren-Schutzbund said that sellers would simply add brokerage costs to the property asking price. 



Abi Carter

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Abi studied German and History at the University of Manchester and has since lived in Berlin, Hamburg and Utrecht, working since 2017 as a writer,...

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KahinaAzzoug2 18:44 | 17 December 2020

Hi Abi, Thank you for your article. Could you please clarify what date counts, the signature of the transaction at the notary or the little paper from the real estate agency that you sign on the first visit. Thank you Kahina