Making a bid on a house contingent on an inspection?

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My wife and I are looking for a house to buy. It is a strong seller's market - meaning houses are sometimes going from first listing to sold within 2 weeks.

 

We can't decide on an appropriate bid price for a house until the house has had an inspection. However, getting an appointment takes around 2 weeks, after we find the house. In this time, the house can be gone. 

 

My thought is that we offer a bid amount - based on the assumption the house has no major structural problems - but make the bid contingent on the inspection. If, after the inspection, the house DOES have major problems, then we would cancel the original bid, and make an altered bid. I.e. If the house comes back with only minor issues (say a maximum of €5000 structural repair needed) then the bid stands. But if it comes back with anything more, we would alter the bid to reflect this new information. We would want to do this completely up-front; discussing in advance with the selling agent that our bid is contingent on the inspection.  

 

So my question are: 

- Is there any existing legal basis for this (or legal basis that this cannot be done?) I.e. what are the legal obligations of "making an offer on a house?"

 

- Is this contrary to the traditions of German real estate? Is there perhaps already a protocol for doing something like this?

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Have you spoken to a broker / real estate agent / makler?  They should be up on the latest. 

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10 minutes ago, silty1 said:

Have you spoken to a broker / real estate agent / makler?  They should be up on the latest. 

We haven't. Their fee is around 10K. It seemed a bit steep just to handle this aspect of it.  

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@burningkrome  From all your posts, it seems like you aren’t very familiar with the house buying process in Germany. Many of us have been in your position before. I was fairly confused by all the differences myself when looking for a place here, but fortunately my husband is German and had already bought before.
 

I strongly suggest you talk to some locals with actual experience before making any further moves. Also, consider making some appointments to see houses, even if they aren’t for you, so you get used to how it works here.
 

Your questions and assumptions very much reflect the US housing market/process and show little understanding of the German market/process. I am not saying this to be rude or mean, but as a warning of what can go wrong. Because it is fairly different here, you should do an information deep dive rather than checking your American-based assumptions one-by-one. There is a real danger you have assumptions you don’t realize, and could get screwed in the end by the bank, the realtor (Makler), the Notar, etc.

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37 minutes ago, MollyWolly said:

@burningkrome  From all your posts, it seems like you aren’t very familiar with the house buying process in Germany. Many of us have been in your position before. I was fairly confused by all the differences myself when looking for a place here, but fortunately my husband is German and had already bought before.
 

I strongly suggest you talk to some locals with actual experience before making any further moves. Also, consider making some appointments to see houses, even if they aren’t for you, so you get used to how it works here.
 

Your questions and assumptions very much reflect the US housing market/process and show little understanding of the German market/process. I am not saying this to be rude or mean, but as a warning of what can go wrong. Because it is fairly different here, you should do an information deep dive rather than checking your American-based assumptions one-by-one. There is a real danger you have assumptions you don’t realize, and could get screwed in the end by the bank, the realtor (Makler), the Notar, etc.

 

I wholly agree. And, you are completely right. I'm very familiar with buying a house in the U.S. and not at all in Germany.

 

But I am, in fact, I'm doing all those suggestions as well :) I'm studying as much information as I can from sites like Dr. Klein and any books I can get my hands on. We are talking to our friends who have bought here, and we have also already been viewing houses to get a feel for the market. 

 

I'm hoping asking questions on this site would fall under the category of "talking to friends" ... in that I'm hoping for people to share their experiences here (expat or otherwise.)

 

The only thing we're hesitant to do, is involve a buyer's makler, since - as I understand it - to involve one in any way means they will want a 2-3% commission which is €10,000. So, unless their guidance on bidding gets us the house we want at €10K less - it doesn't seem worth it (please, seriously, correct me if I'm wrong here :) )

 

As far as finding a house, it doesn't seem like a Makler can offer us much value since, between our bank and the different immobilien sites, we're not having much problem finding houses to look at. I don't think a Makler has access to any more listings than we do (please correct me if I'm wrong there as well!)

 

It may be worth pointing out that we are not investors. We're looking for a home to live in. So, I'm just trying to understand the process, and gather as much information as I can, so we can (not just) get the best deal - but not lose out since this is an insane buyer's market. :D 

 

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4 minutes ago, burningkrome said:

 

As far as finding a house, it doesn't seem like a Makler can offer us much value since, between our bank and the different immobilien sites, we're not having much problem finding houses to look at. I don't think a Makler has access to any more listings than we do (please correct me if I'm wrong there as well!)

 

 

Maklers do not offer any value - you’ve learned quickly on that one! If you’re lucky, a seller’s Makler will be able to provide minimal information about the place. In my experience - looking for a place to live in myself, and now looking for an investment property - many know nothing about the place. Even less than what the owner would know. They are not nearly as useful as even the crappiest American realtors.

 

Do you already have a local bank? We are on a real estate list with our bank branch. For properties they are listing (as seller’s Makler), they will contact us before putting it on the open market. It’s probably a big list, but maybe we can beat out someone that way.

 

Another suggestion is good old word of mouth. Tell all your friends and coworkers that you are looking and to forward your email when they hear about someone looking to sell. We’ve gotten a few tips that way, like a friend’s boss, a neighbor’s cousin, etc.

 

As to your original question, I don’t think contingencies are a big thing here in general, and definitely not for an inspection. The best you can do for inspection is a Gutachter, which I would consider more like a surveyor/insurance estimator/appraiser type role. They can check to make sure a building is structurally sound or has the correct property lines marked off, but don’t expect the American-style check of everything. My experience is that you are buying as is in Germany, especially in a tight market.

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12 hours ago, MollyWolly said:

Maklers do not offer any value ... They are not nearly as useful as even the crappiest American realtors.

 

...I don’t think contingencies are a big thing here in general, and definitely not for an inspection. 

Thanks for the feedback. Ya. A buyer's Makler seems to be a useless concept here. It seems hard to avoid the sellers Makler though. An acceptable evil I suppose :D

 

We do have a local bank (we've actually been here 10 years) but our local bank guy is not real active in sending us listings. We usually check the bank site (which brings up another question actually.) All the houses at our bank are listed as "auctions" (Versteigerung.) We're not sure what this means. Does this mean the listing price is actually just a starting bid price?

 

Anyway, I think we figured out how to handle the contingencies. From what we've read - making even a "binding offer" is not really binding. We can cancel it at anytime. And if the seller requires a deposit to hold the house, this deposit can not (almost never) be kept by the sellers if we change our mind anyway. 

 

So, it seems the best course of action is to simply make an offer based on the assumption the house if structurally sound, and then get an inspection set up. If the inspection shows significant structural repairs needed (or if the seller refuses to allow the inspection, which they apparently can) then we just pull the offer and make a new, reduced offer (or drop the house altogether, especially if the inspection is refused.)

 

Does this jive with your experiences so far?

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On 23.8.2021, 11:52:29, burningkrome said:

A buyer's Makler seems to be a useless concept here. It seems hard to avoid the sellers Makler though.


There are no „buyer‘s“ or „seller‘s“ Maklers here

 

If a house is being sold via a Makler, then s/he‘s the Makler for that house

 

And s/he can easily answer all of these questions you have 😊

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