First-time property buyers in Germany, whether ex-pats or German natives, face the uncharted waters of their first real estate experience. The property search process can seem overwhelming or difficult at first glance as there are many different steps and procedures. Read this guide to visiting apartments in Germany to get an overview of what to expect.
Understand the Housing Market in Germany
It’s tempting to dive into your property search and start visiting apartments in Germany straight away. But first, it is important to complete the housing market 101. This includes information on types of housing available, the current housing prices, and when is the best time to buy.
Types of Housing in Germany
- ETW (Eigentumswohnung): A freehold apartment
- EFH (Einfamilienhaus): A single-family house
- DHH (Doppelhaushälfte): A semi-detached house with two separate entrances
- MFH (Mehrfamilienhaus): An apartment building
- RH (Reihenhaus): A row house that has “sections” of one structure
- REH (Reihenendhaus): A row-end house that is located from any edge of the total building
In terms of the current housing prices in Germany, they have been continually rising for over the last 10 years. In addition, the rental market is extremely crowded and interest rates are at an all-time low. This combination lends itself as an ideal time to buy, rather than rent, property in Germany.
Financials and Mortgages in Germany
Another beneficial step before visiting apartments in Germany is to verify what you can afford. Get your finances in order and determine if you are eligible for a mortgage in Germany. Your income determines your mortgage. Once your financials are determined, you can search for the best properties and mortgages that suit you. Consult with your bank and a mortgage advisor to get an estimate of your budget for a property in Germany before you start your search.
Find a Real Estate Agency or Agent in Germany
Get your foot in the door, literally, with the help of a real estate agent. In Germany, properties are majority sold by agencies and real estate agents or “Immobilienmakler” in German. When using Govesta property search, the listings you see are directly connected to an agency or exclusive real estate agent. Once connected, your professional agency will best assist you through every step of the buying process, communicating with the seller and all parties involved. This is especially helpful if you do not speak German.
Location of the Property
Location, location, location! Once identifying where you would like to buy property in Germany, it is important to consider a few things while on your showing. In what cardinal direction is the apartment facing? For example, a south-facing property gets sun for most of the day and is therefore usually brighter and warmer. A north-facing home gets sun at the back of the house and is typically darker and naturally cooler. Light is a big factor for the ambience of a home and especially during Germany’s long grey winters. Ask your real estate agent to visit the property during different times of the day. This allows you, the potential buyer, to have a better understanding of the apartment and its atmosphere during all hours of the day.
Other important factors to consider are your proximity to stores and amenities. Are you willing to sacrifice an extra bathroom to be closer to public transportation? If you have a family or are family planning, considering the distance to schools and parks can also determine which location is most desirable for purchasing a property in Germany.
Request Property Documents
Visiting a property is more than just walking through the floorplan and viewing a space’s physical attributes. There is more involvement regarding documents and planning. A property’s documents will provide clarity on utilities, additional costs, and an insight into the property’s management. When going on a real estate showing in Germany be sure to request the following information to get a full understanding of the property:
- Wirtschaftspläne: Economic Plans, these describe the financial decisions of all owners of the building. It gives insights into the different building expenses, monthly expenses, and the common reserved property budget.
- Teilungserklärung: Declaration of division, the document clarifies what belongs to the property and what is considered shared-property, like staircases for example.
- Energieausweis: Energy consumption verification, the document provides all the necessary information about the property’s energy efficiency.
- Grundriss: Floorplans, architectural drawings of the property.
Last, but not least, ask questions. Buying a property in Germany is not only a financial decision but an emotional one as well. When working with your real estate agent, be sure to ask enough questions to feel confident when it comes time to reserve and ultimately purchase your dream home.
Govesta Property Search
Begin your property search with Govesta. When browsing different property types, locations, and listings, we connect you directly with the agency and agents responsible for your desired apartment in your preferred language. There’s no place like home.