Buying property in Germany

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Welcome to Makler fees. Yes, they are purely matchmaking and that's it. However some are more helpful than others and may point you in the direction of surveyors etc. You'll probably find many who have a decent grasp of English in Berlin. Find a Notar who speaks English and can supply the contract in both languages. We used a large international company for a couple of small deals and they were helpful and not at all snooty.

At least now you only have to pay the agent  3,5% and not the full 7% which previously landed on the buyer alone.

Buying is expensive here and people are just not generally into the property ladder concept. Our neighbours find it impossible to understand that we might one day move.

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55 minutes ago, Feierabend said:

Our neighbours find it impossible to understand that we might one day move.

Just as Brits might struggle to understand that we still have a tenant who moved as a child into my then grandfather´s house in 1956 and is still living there. And another one who also moved in in 1956 and lived there until he had to go into a nursing home last year.

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I would go against the advice to get the contract translated.

 

Run it through google translate to get the gist of what it says and spend what you saved on translation on getting a lawyer to tell you what it actually means and what changes you might want to make.

I did this when I bought my place and not only did he help a lot with explaining the ins and outs of my kaufvertrag but he looked over my old mietvertrag, told me how to properly cancel that, drafted a letter for me, and nixed all the stuff about redecorating as being contrary to the law. All for about €100.

 
 
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But, if the contract is not in English, then I think the Notar, knowing that you do not have sufficient German, is legally obliged to ensure that you understand it, by having a translator there at the reading of the contract at the signing session, where the contract is read out word for word.

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I don't know you will get a contract in English in "Germany". Ask your notar to send the contract as a word document so that you can use deepl or Google translate. You will get the essential  understanding of the contract. You can clear your doubts with your lawyer and then with your Notar.. BSB lawyers also can help you to check your contract. 

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The last solicitors we dealt with provided the contract in both German and English. It was one document with two columns for German and English. The first time we bought here the contract was in German and we had to engage a translator. So one way or another you have to pay.

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The first time I bought a property in Germany I hired a professional translator to translate the contract into English.  As far as I could tell she did a good job at a price I was happy to pay.  She did however come up with an English word I didn't know at the time,  I will never forget the word "Usufruct", although for some reason I always want to spell it usufrucht.

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13 hours ago, penchanski said:

I would go against the advice to get the contract translated.

 

It's not something you have a say.

The Notar is legally obliged to ensure you understand what you are about to sign. So if he/she says you must have a translator you can't not having it.

 

Plus, comparing to the UK: the Notar contracts here are super simple. I read it (with my bad German), and I was amazed that I could understand 99% of it. I remember reading my UK one, with good English, and I could understand 1% of it.

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2 hours ago, Gambatte said:

 

It's not something you have a say.

The Notar is legally obliged to ensure you understand what you are about to sign. So if he/she says you must have a translator you can't not having it.

 

Plus, comparing to the UK: the Notar contracts here are super simple. I read it (with my bad German), and I was amazed that I could understand 99% of it. I remember reading my UK one, with good English, and I could understand 1% of it.

 

There's two different things

 

Getting the contract translated before the Notar's termin, vs having a translator with you in the Notar's termin. 

 

I'm saying don't bother with the first.

And you're right that anyway it won't spare you the second if that's what the Notar decides.

 

In my case they decided not, I turned up with my heavily annotated copy and said my lawyer had advised me on it (and had his letter with me too, but didn't show it). Then it's just a matter of turning the pages at the same time as everyone else.

 

As for being able to read it, that's only half the story. 

 

To go back to my mietvertrag, a translator could have told me it said "you must repaint in white". My lawyer was able to tell me that they can't specify "white" so that whole clause was invalid and I didn't have to repaint at all. Same with a kaufvertrag, I would rather someone who knows their stuff interpret it from a legal perspective.

 
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fartencore,

 

You will get a draft (or a couple draft) version(s) of the contract before the reading at the Notars.  You should be able to use Deepl or Google translate to translate the contract to English. If you have any questions or concerns about what is in the draft contract, you will contact the Notar for change/corretion/explanation.  Once everyone has agreed on the final contract, the Notar will set up a time to read the contract to the seller and buyer.  

 

When I bought my apartment in Berlin, the Notar spoke English.  I did not have a translator present but was able to read and follow the German contract.  The Notar every so often stopped and asked if I understood everything being read.  I said yes, since i had to translated version of the contract along with the German one.  He even asked me a couple times what I had for the English translation on certain parts.  

 

You most likely will need a translator, if you are not comfortable in following along when the Notar reads the contract.  FYI, the Notar reads as fast as he can pronounce the words - very fast!  With a translator the pace would most likely be slower. 

 

Keep in mind, when the Notar is reading the contract, this is the final version that everyone has agreed upon.  You will have had a copy at least a couple weeks in advance of when the Notar reads it to the seller and buyer.  There should be any "surprises" at the meeting with the Notar, since all of the details should have been agreed upon by this point in time.  

 

S.

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When we bought our house, the notary arranged for a translator/interpreter (my pet peeve: yes, there is a difference!!!) We paid a flat fee for everything. 

She translated the draft of the contract after the notary had finished it and then, during the reading of the contract, she sat next to my husband and translated everything that was said including open points, the discussion (minor stuff in our case, but I know people where important points were discussed during the signing) and all the legal bla that he needed to understand. Exhausting but very helpful.  

 

Our purchase was done via a Makler, but no survey was done beforehand. I asked an architect I know to go look at the house when we went for our second visit. That was good enough for me. If we had wanted a survey, we would have had to arrange and pay for it. 

 

As for the bank, you can get that ball rolling already. Making sure that they have all the paperwork and work out financing scheme. When you have found a place, the bank will likely have to adjust their offer depending on the property, the market and if any info has changed, but that can be done so much more quickly if they already have most of the information on file. There are also Finanzmakler who will work with you to find the best deal on financing. We went with our local bank though as they offered us an excellent deal. 

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On 3/23/2021, 1:36:02, Shenandoah said:

You will get a draft (or a couple draft) version(s) of the contract before the reading at the Notars.

 

On 3/22/2021, 9:13:36, neoanderson2009 said:

 Ask your notar to send the contract as a word document

 

Remember, you are the customer and the Notar is the service provider.  Even if the Notar thinks they have a very special place in looking out for the public interest, you are paying them to perform a service for you

 

Feel free to seek changes to the draft (the other side will too) before the final version is determined for The Reading.  Even there, the Notar may make some last minute adjustments as issues (or errors) come to light during The Reading. 

 

I encourage you to follow any changes to the document.  It's handy to get it as a Word document and use track changes (yourself) rather than just being presented a pdf of a changed document.

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Given the current prices for residential property in Germany, I would think very carefully about buying a house or an apartment of any kind. German real estate agents have been in a gold rush mood for many years now and are profiting immensely from the run on any kind of property. As DoubleDTown says: remember that you are the customer and the agent is the service provider. In Germany, experience has shown that some agents unfortunately forget this. In this context, I would recommend the following page with hints on finding real estate agents (so called Immobilienmakler) in Germany. What is written there, I myself have often experienced during my search for a suitable apartment in the city of Hanover. However, it must be said that there are also very good and professional real estate agents in Germany. You just have to find them. Taking time in doing so should be worthwhile.

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On 4/16/2021, 3:11:34, PeterLi said:

 As DoubleDTown says: remember that you are the customer and the agent is the service provider.

 

I said it regarding Notars, but it is even more the case with Maklers - treat the Makler as someone providing you a service, and let them know you want them to be responsive (but don't hold your breath on a German Makler being responsive or providing a North American style of service)

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16 hours ago, DoubleDTown said:

treat the Makler as someone providing you a service, and let them know you want them to be responsive 

 

Wishful thinking.

The buyer choses the house. It's the vendor that choses the Makler. Maklers have a financial incentive to be good nice professional responsive whatever to the vendor, they know if the vendor does not like them he can flip Makler and they lose the buyer's commission. The buyer instead decides whether he buys the house or not, not a decision based on the Makler being good or nice. The Maklers have no reason (other than their own moral compass, which is occasionally decent, often poor), in providing a good service to the buyer. Especially when the market is hot like now. 

Being there done that. I've been buyer vendor tenant and landlord many times each, in Germany and elsewhere. So I'm speaking for experience.

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59 minutes ago, Gambatte said:

 

The buyer choses the house. It's the vendor that choses the Makler. Maklers have a financial incentive to be good nice professional responsive whatever to the vendor, they know if the vendor does not like them he can flip Makler and they lose the buyer's commission. The buyer instead decides whether he buys the house or not, not a decision based on the Makler being good or nice.

 

true - the buyer doesn't get a say-so as far as choice of "Makler" goes. But, in my own recent experience (March 2020 when we looked at houses, through August 2020 when we purchased) the professional and personal qualities of the sales agent did make all the difference. The agent for "our" house was definitely most responsive, well connected, extremely helpful with finding the right financing - and a very "likeable" person. He really earned his commission in my opinion.

 

Sure, we wanted that house - but with a different Makler things might have not worked out as smoothly - and then somebody else with an "easier" financial situation might have gotten ahead of us.

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Right, the owner picks the makler here but the potential buyer decides if to buy or walk away and that can depend on the makler in some cases.  I know people who backed out of a buy a few years ago because they didn't think the makler deserved the commission based on his lack of efforts.  As I recall, he did not provide them certain info about the property etc.  They still would have bought the property at that price but felt that the makler did not deserve to make a buck.

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17 minutes ago, karin_brenig said:

He really earned his commission in my opinion.

 

Then you couldn't have bought in Munich then. When an average 3 bedroom house costs between 1 and 1.5 million Euros, I cannot imagine what a makler must do for me to think he has earned up to 50K Euros in commission. It's quite obscene in my opinion.

 

Also, is a 3 million Euro house 3 times harder to sell than a 1 million Euro house ? Does the makler work 3 times as hard and deserve 3 times the commission ? 

 

I think not.

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Just now, Jonny said:

 

Then you couldn't have bought in Munich then. When an average 3 bedroom house costs between 1 and 1.5 million Euros, I cannot imagine what a makler must do for me to think he has earned up to 50K Euros in commission. It's quite obscene in my opinion.

 

Also, is a 3 million Euro house 3 times harder to sell than a 1 million Euro house ? Does the makler work 3 times as hard and deserve 3 times the commission ? 

 

I think not.

 

our house is located 26km outside of Munich. The Makler earned around 30K on this sale. We also know from the sellers, that the house was on the market for just 4 weeks total from published listing to us saying "yes, we do". They showed it to three interested parties. 

 

The Makler was really listening to us, getting a very fast grasp of our main "problem" - we needed 100% financing, and were still very "new" to the country (had just moved to Germany half a year ago). 

 

Also the presentation of that house, the organisation of showings, the building of rapport/trust, the "people skills" and networking efforts, these are all qualifications that somebody doesn't learn in a six weeks online course. It takes years of experience to build up to that. You're not paying the Makler to fill out a few forms, or edit some pictures. 

 

(just my personal opinion).

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Thanks for sharing that Karin. It's an interesting opinion that you think a makler earned 30K.

 

If you think it was worth it then who am I to argue. I suppose if you think about it, if he helped you get financing that you otherwise wouldn't have managed on your own, then maybe he saved you a lot more than 30K over the years of your financing. I've never thought about it that way. Also, I've heard that sometimes the new builds without a makler fee are actually more expensive per square metre than if you bought one with a makler. Don't know if that's true or not.

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