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Sep 16, 2013

Roundtrip costs are low to moderate in Germany


How high are realtors’ and lawyers’ fees in Germany? What about other property purchase costs?

Transaction Costs

Who Pays?
Real Estate Transfer Tax 3.50% - 5% buyer
Notary Fees 1.20% - 1.50% buyer
Registration Fees 0.80% - 1.20% buyer
Broker´s (Makler´s) Fee 1.5% - 3% (+ 19% VAT)
1.5% - 3% (+ 19% VAT)
buyer
seller
Costs paid by buyer 7.23% - 11.27%
Costs paid by seller 1.79% - 3.57%
ROUNDTRIP TRANSACTION COSTS 9.07% - 14.84%
See Footnotes
Source: Global Property Guide

How difficult is the property purchase process in Germany?

Germany vacation homes

There are no restrictions on foreign nationals buying property in Germany. Financing is possible for foreigners, but should not be expected to cover more than 60% of the purchase price.

The process of buying property in Germany involves the following:

  1. Make an offer via your agent (Makler), who will convey your bid either through the seller’s agent or to the seller directly. You may find yourself competing in a quasi-auction with your Makler, who will handle rival bids from other prospective buyers.
  2. When the seller accepts your offer, ask your Notar to draw up the contract. It would be a good idea to hire the services of an English-speaking Notar. A contract must show:
    • Correct names and addresses of the parties and details of the property. An error, especially in the property details, could at least partially invalidate the contract.
    • The agreed upon purchase price and terms and conditions of payment.
    • Stipulations as to what happens in the event either party fails to live up to the terms of the contract.

    The parties can freely decide on payment terms. The buyer is advised to check the property for any major defects because the notary is not responsible for this. The seller is required to disclose any hidden defects, but is not obliged to point out any defects that should have been obvious to the buyer. The Notar is responsible for the legal work and contract obligations, and checks that no liabilities exist.

  3. In most cases, the financing needs to be secured by the buyer and you must be ready to present a so-called irrevocable acceptance of loan financing by a good bank before signing of contract; or if you have the cash deposit, to bring proof of the existing funds. The seller usually agrees to a priority notice in the land register. This priority notice protects the buyer from other, unexpected sales activities, such as trying to sell the property to other buyers for a better price, by the seller.
  4. Both parties agree on the notary public date of signing the contract. It is strongly advised that you review the contract carefully and have it translated if necessary.
  5. At the actual signing ceremony, the Notar reads the contract aloud in German for both parties. If you are non-German speaking, it is advisable to bring a qualified translator. You can at anytime interrupt the proceedings if a clause is not completely understood. It is customary to pay the purchase price into an account maintained by the notary (Notaranderkonto). The money is transferred to the seller only when the land registry entry is complete. The real estate agent’s or broker’s commission is also paid at this stage, and so are the notary and registration fees. The purchase tax or stamp duty needs to be paid within four weeks after the contract was signed.
  6. The Notar then makes the application in the so-called Grundbuch – the land title register. The land register is found at the district courthouse, and is the central document for a piece of property. A change in ownership occurs only when
    • an entry has been made in this land register,
    • previous mortgages have been cleared, and
    • the tax office has certified that the seller has no property taxes outstanding.

It takes an average of 35 days to complete all the four procedures needed to register a property in Germany.



Footnotes to Transaction Costs Table

The round trip transaction costs include all costs of buying and then re-selling a property – lawyers’ fees, notaries’ fees, registration fees, taxes, agents’ fees, etc.

Real Estate Transfer Tax (Grunderwerbsteuer)
Real estate transfer tax is levied at 3.5% to 5%, depending on the federal state where the property is located.

Real estate transfer tax is levied at 3.5% in the federal states of Bavaria, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Pomerania and Saxony; at 4.5% in the federal states of Berlin, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, and Saarland; and 5% in the federal states of Baden-Wurttemberg, Brandenburg, North-Rhine Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia. Real estate transfer tax is 5% in Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony-Anhalt as of 01 March 2012.

Real estate transfer tax is due about four weeks after the notary deed has been signed by buyer and seller.



Notary Fees:
Notary fees are fixed by law and depend on the kind of agreement and the value of the property. Notary fees usually range from 1.20% to 1.5% of the purchase price. German law requires that sale and purchase agreements be notarized.

NOTARY FEE

PROPERTY VALUE, (€) RATE €
Up to €1,000 €10
€1,000 – €5,000 increase of €8 for every €1,000
€5,000 – €50,000 increase of €6 for every €3,000
€50,000 – €5 million increase of €15 for every €10,000
Source: Global Property Guide


Registration Fees:
The buyer mus pay registration fee to have his name entered in the local land registry (Grundbuch) as the legal owner. Registration fee is fixed by law depends on the value of the property.

Value Added Tax (VAT)
Value Added Tax (VAT) is levied at a flat rate of 19%.


Broker´s Fee:
Agent’s fee in Germany varies in each federal country and ranges from 3% to 6% plus 19% VAT. The actual value is negotiable and depending on the agreement negotiated between parties, borker´s fee will be paid either by the buyer or the seller, or split between the two.






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