Sometimes it can feel like a complicated process. It is difficult to know exactly what you should be doing and when. To help out, we have broken down the entire process into a short step-by-step guide.
As with any real estate purchase, there are always additional costs to consider and budget for. These differ from country to country – but in Germany they also differ from state to state. As an international buyer, you can click below for more information on your expected costs, in addition tot he purchase price.
The transfer of property in Germany is subject to a transfer tax (Grunderwerbsteuer). The percentage varies between the German states – ranging between 3.5% (Bavaria, Saxony) and 6.5% (Schleswig-Holstein). In Berlin, it is currently 6% of the purchase price as it is in Frankfurt (Hessen). There are exemptions, mostly for the transfer of property within the family.
This is only applicable when living in Germany and attending the notary appointment in person. It does not apply to those using a lawyer to represent them. The costs of this service is around €290 + VAT.
As an international buyer, it is a legal requirement that a German lawyer acts on your behalf. The total cost of this service is usually 1% VAT of the purchase price; though for higher value acquisitions a flat fee agreement is common.
Purchase contracts in Germany must be signed in the presence of a notary, who also records the property sale in the land registry. The overall cost of this service is usually around 1.5-2% of the purchasing price. This will involve an approximately 1% invoice paid directly to the notary office afer signing contracts; and approximately 0.5-1% spread over three separate invoices during the land registry process – removing the old name and entering you as the registered owner.
Depending on who you are buying through, there is often a commission involved. Since 2021, commissions must be split equally by the buyer and the seller. This means you will pay commission when you buy, and when you sell (if using an agent). Luckily, at Accentro, we do not charge commission on our self-owned apartments so your acquisition commission is 0%. When buying or selling through an agency, you will usually pay between 1.5-3% plus VAT of the purchase price.
What is a reservation? A reservation is a period of exclusivity on an apartment, where prices cant be increased, and the apartment can't be sold to another buyer. In this time, you should review the important documents, speak with finance brokers and push the sale forward. A reservation often requires a refundable deposit of up to 1% of the purchase price of the apartment, however at ACCENTRO, reservations are free.
Now you have secured a property, you can inform your mortgage provider of the details and move the loan application forward.
After submitting the application, it can take a couple of weeks to be processed and evaluated. Once the formal offer is out and you have signed it, you will receive your Grundschuld – which is the document linking the mortgage to the property in the Grundbuch. This will be notarised at the same time as the sales contract.
All property documents will be uploaded into your personal online data room. You can give access information to your lawyer and your finance partner.
Your lawyer will provide you with your personalised POA for them to sign on your behalf at the notary office in Germany, so you do not need to travel. You will need to sign the POA at your local German Embassy, and mail the original to your lawyer.
Draft contracts are requested and prepared by the notary. Once received, 14 day legal due diligence period begins where no contracts can be notarised. Your lawyer will review all the legal documents for you and provide a summary. An escrow account will be opened in your name to transfer your funds from abroad.
As soon as your financing is in order and the 14 days “cooling period” have passed, you tell us what date you wish to set the notary appointment to sign the actual purchasing contract. The notary acts as a neutral party that certifies the purchase contract. Both seller and buyer have to be present at this appointment, and our own real estate consultant will also be present in order to guide you through the process.
The notary appointment is in German. If you do not speak German, there are two options:
Either you hire a translator
or the lawyer that you appointed with a POA can act in your name. In this case, you do not even have to be present, as he can sign for you. This option is often used by our clients who live abroad and do not wish to come to Germany “just” for a contract signing.
After the purchasing contract is signed, the notary will take the necessary steps to place your name as the new owner into the land registry. This is called “Auflassungsvormerkung.”
The notary will then notify you and your bank that the payment of the purchase price is due. Without it, you cannot become a full rightful owner. Once you have paid the purchase price and informed the notary about it, he can notify the land registry once again, asking for the ownership of the apartment to be transferred fully to you. When the land registry has confirmed to the notary that the note about the new owner is made, the notary can then notify you via post: Now the property is officially yours.
The entire process between the notary appointment and the day you become official owner of the apartment usually can takes between 6 - 12 weeks, mostly because the land registry needs time to process the data. This time can differ between the districts.
In the weeks following the notary appointment, you will receive the following invoices, all related to purchasing costs: real estate transfer tax, notary fees, land registry fees, real estate agency commission fee if applicable, and the lawyer fee if you had one supporting you during the process. All those invoices generally need to be paid within 14 days after receiving them.
Once your name has been entered into the land registry as the new owner of the apartment, the key handover can finally take place.
We would be delighted to assist you in your property search, and to answer any questions you might have. For a quick chat or a full consulation, please get in contact using the links & information below. We look forward to speaking with you!
Michael Totman Director International Sales Advisory office ACCENTRO Berlin Phone: +49 (0)30 / 887 181-41 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our hotline is available Mo to Fr, 9am to 6pm (CET)