buying property in germany as a foreigner
Expat Life in Germany

Tips for Buying Land in Germany as a Foreigner + FREE Checklist of Questions to Ask Before Buying

Are you considering investing in real estate in Germany? Recently, we took the plunge and purchased property in Germany. Here are my tips that you should consider before buying land in Germany as a foreigner.

PS: Don’t forget to download my detailed checklist of all questions to ask before you buy a property in Germany.

 

 

Germany has the lowest home ownership rate in Europe. Tenant laws are highly protective of the renters, so it is no surprise that so many Germans just don’t bother investing in real estate.

However, this should not stop any long term expats from buying a property in Germany.

My partner fiancé husband and I recently bought land for building a future home. This is the first major investment (:O !) for us and a huge learning experience.

Here are some of my tips for buying land in Germany as a foreigner.

 


Disclaimer: This post has some affiliate links of services that I used during my property hunting process. I may earn a small commission from the qualifying transactions. This way I can keep maintaining this website.


 

1. Building a House vs Buying a House in Germany

 

Do you want to build a home from scratch or do you want to buy an existing house? Both have pros and cons. Let’s take a look at both of these scenarios:

1.1) Buying land to build a house in Germany

Pros:

  • The biggest advantage of buying land is that you can build a customised home and get a design that fits your taste and preference- within the limits of the legal guidelines that is.
  • In some areas of Germany, it is actually cheaper to buy land and build a property brick by brick.

Cons:

  • Too many things to take care of. Too much paperwork as you have to deal with different offices, contractors and maintain a HUGE amount of contracts.
  • Longer waiting time until your home is ready for you to move in

 

building a house in Germany

 

1.2) Buying a house in Germany

Pros:

  • Much more straightforward than buying land and building a house.
  • Shorter move in time.

Cons:

  • You have to settle for what you get. It is very hard to make any changes to an existing house in Germany. So once you have purchased it, you won’t be able to alter the template of your house. At least not without a shitton of paperwork and permits.
  • It is often more expensive than building a house as the value of ready to move in, finished properties is higher.

We evaluated all of these options.

Eventually, we decided that we will go ahead with construction land in the Bavarian countryside. For us, it was really important that we get to build a home according to our own specifications and requirements.

We are going to invest hundreds of thousands of euros in either case. So might as well, invest it into a house that we designed for ourselves.

 

 


FREE Checklist For a Land Buyer in Germany

Have more questions and doubts? Then download this FREE checklist consisting of 30 questions you should consider BEFORE buying land in Germany.

 

 

 


 

2. Search For Land to Build a House in Germany

 

Finding a perfect building plot can take a very long time. The more search criteria you have, the longer it may take you to find a building plot that meets your requirements.

2.1) Search beyond the city area

Depending on your location in Germany, anywhere about 30-40 drive-minutes radius from the city centre is generally a good location to search for cheaper land.

Let’s say you are working in Nürnberg city centre and want to live close to the city, then you may have a hard time finding a plot that meets your requirements or budget.

In such a case, you can look around Nürnberg suburb or even land area. In German, the land area is called ‘Landkreis’. Look for available plots in these areas. Too often cost per square meter is much lower in these regions than closer to the city.

Find a plot of land in Germany here.

 

 

2.2) Watch out for Provision Free properties

Many properties on sale have a ‘makler or provision’ fee attached to them.  Makler is the German term for a real estate agent. This fee is usually calculated at 3.5% to 5% of the property price. When you buy a property directly from the owner, you can skip this extra fee entirely – but such properties are rare to find.

Try the following search terms in Google to find provision free properties in your area.

  • ‘provisionsfrei grundstück kaufen + your desired location’,
  • grundstück Ohne Makler kaufen + your desired location’ or
  • grundstück von Privat kaufen + your desired location’

You can also easily find ‘maklerfrei‘ properties in Germany on ohne-makler.net. Ohne-Makler.net is the largest directory of provision free properties in Germany.

 

buy land in Germany

 

 


Recommended Reading: The Complete Guide to German Property Investment


 

 




 

3. Understand The Local Development Regulations

 

Do you want to build a city villa or log cabin? One or two stories? Flat roof or saddle roof?

You may have something very specific for your dream house, but you may not be able to realise it everywhere in Germany.

3.1) Check the local planning permissions

Before you buy land in Germany you should be fully aware of the development plan (Bebauungsplan). This plan regulates how a residential building may be built e.g. how many levels, how big, what type of roof etc.

Potential home builders should make sure to read the regulations – and know the formulas and abbreviations before purchasing the land. The best way to know what you can build on your potential plot is by getting in touch with the seller or agent directly and request more information.

 

how to read bebaungsplan in Germany

 

 


Recommended Reading: Tricks and Bricks Germany – 75 Property Investment Tips


 

3.2) Are there any building restrictions?

Ask for the building permit details from your seller or agent beforehand.

A building permit (Baugenehmigung)  is a certificate from the local building authority (Bauamt). With this permit, the building authority indicates that it has no reservations about the planned construction project in terms of legal regulations.

Another thing to consider is the construction deadline (Bauzwang).

This deadline generally dictates the time by which the construction of the house should begin or finish on the plot. Some properties may have a deadline of five years or some may have none.

Our property does not have any such construction deadlines, so we have the freedom to take some time to plan, and save up before starting with the construction of the house.

 




 

3.3) Is the plot fully developed?

Before you buy land in Germany, verify its development status from local authorities.

Partially developed (teilerschlossenes Grundstück) or undeveloped (Nicht erschlossenes Grundstück) is a piece of land that is not yet entirely suitable for construction.

For a plot to be considered fully developed (vollerschlossenes Grundstück), four basic supply lines must be available.

These are: gas, water, electricity and sewage.

The partially developed property is characterised by the fact that not all four supply lines are available. This means that the buyer must undertake this development after purchasing and that generally leads to additional costs.

A partially developed plot is usually cheaper.

However, you have to be prepared to invest at a later stage. The costs for a complete development must be included in the construction planning and financing.

 

buying a house in Germany as an expat

 

 


Recommended Reading: Single-Family Houses: Contemporary Homes in Germany


 

 




 

3.4) Make sure to inspect the property in person

When you decide to buy land in Germany – make sure to inspect it and get a feel of the surroundings.

A personal visit is the best way to do that.

Set up an appointment with your seller or agent. Ask them to take you to the property in person. It is a very normal part of the process anyway, so they will offer this even before you request.

Here are key things that you should watch out for during your inspection visit:

  • Ask your Makler why the land is on sale or technical questions about the development and building permissions.
  • Is the land located on a slope? This requires additional costs for preparing the foundation of the house and waterproofing the cellar.
  • Is the neighbourhood too loud? Or too quiet?
  • Is there enough sunlight or is it getting blocked by nearby houses or trees?
  • Clarify any doubts about the location. Take a drive from there to your workplace, school or to the nearest shopping centre. This is how you will be travelling each day once you have moved in. Get a first-hand feel for everyday activities.

 

buying land in Germany as an expat

 

If you are still happy with the plot, then ask the next questions…

 


Also read: How to avoid going bankrupt and legally protect yourself as an expat in Germany


 

4. Assess Your Financing Options

 

4.1) Can you afford to build a house in Germany?

Buying the building plot is simply the first stage.

Depending on your location your land could easily cost several hundred thousand. The average cost per square meter can range from €180 to €2500 depending on the location. In the countryside and smaller cities, you have much more variation in the price range.

Besides the cost of the building plot, you’d also need to think about financing the whole construction project. As mentioned in the above section, if your plot is only partly developed you will have to incur the costs of completely developing it.

The cost of land development can be high and is largely borne by the property owners.

Municipalities usually cover a small part of the fees, but the proportion of owners is much larger.

For example, the development costs are higher in an urban city area. On the other hand, plots of land “in the countryside” are relatively cheap to develop.

 

4.2) Consider how you’re going to finance your property

Now comes one of the most challenging parts of buying land in Germany as a foreigner.

Financing your property – Are you going to finance it through a bank or privately?

Both have advantages and disadvantages.

  • Financing with a credit institute is a no-brainer since most of us do not have six-figure chunks of money sitting in the bank.
  • The other option is, of course, to finance everything privately. If you have substantial savings you can fund yourself without any credit. This way you can also save on the interest rates payments.

Financing properties is a huge complicated topic, which cannot be covered in one small section. Read this comprehensive guide on getting a real estate loan in Germany as a foreigner.

 


Or, you can get custom house financing offers in ENGLISH from LoanLink through this simple form here


Deeplink auf das Finanzierungs-Formular

Last but not least,

 

5. Protect Yourself Legally as a Property Owner in Germany

 

5.1) Get the purchase contract verified by an independent lawyer

Before signing a purchase contract make sure to get it checked out by a neutral, 3rd party lawyer. This is very important for non-German speakers.

Backtracking on a signed agreement is nearly impossible in Germany. A lawyer can check for any possible clauses that could come back to bite you in the ass later. You can search for and hire a lawyer in your local area yourself.

Another option is to use an online contract verification service by ‘YourXpert.de’.

You can upload your contract online and the YourXpert team will assign a real estate lawyer to investigate your contract for

  • any potential pitfalls in the contract,
  • missing and unfavourable clauses
  • identify any legally doubtful or improvable passages
  • make suggestions for improving the wording and clauses in your favour

This service costs under just 190 EUR (for comparison our real estate lawyer charged 300 EUR/hr)

Check out how the contract check works here (in German)

 

5.2) Get all your insurances up to date

As we left the Notar’s office after signing our contracts, our Makler congratulated us and promptly told us that we must get landowners’ liability insurance. It was just the beginning of winter and he warned us that if someone slips on our sidewalk because of the frost, we will have to pay for any related expenses.

And he had a point.

As you may be aware, Germans LOVE their insurances. There’s really an insurance for everything here. 😉

Before you buy land in Germany, consider investing in good liability insurance for the private homebuilders and landowners. In German, it is commonly known as

Personal liability has far-reaching consequences in Germany – enough to lead to lifelong bankruptcy. The responsible party is liable to compensate for unlimited amounts and with their entire current and future assets. A claim for such damages can basically lead to complete financial ruin.

Therefore, the protection with a house builder’s liability insurance is extremely important. As with any kind of insurance in Germany, there are a number of providers who offer this kind of coverage.

CosmoDirekt offers comprehensive coverage for both home and landowners and for those who are planning to build their property sometime soon.

 

buying property in germany as an expat

 

So that is how I ended up buying a property in Germany (as a foreigner). I hope these tips will be helpful when the time comes for you to buy land in Germany as an expat.

Start here to find and buy a plot of land in Germany to build a house.

 

Did you buy a property in Germany? What was your experience of buying land in Germany as a foreigner? Let us know in the comments below.

Tips for Buying Property in Germany as a foreignerbuying property in germany as a foreginer

Hi there, I am the human behind this blog. If you could not tell by my photo, I am fueled by tea. My expat journey started at the age of 19. Germany has been my home for several years. I hope you will find some helpful insights if you are considering moving to Germany or already live here.

22 Comments

  • Zami

    Hello Yamini

    Thank you for valuable information for foreigners planning to build a house in Germany!

    Are you aware if there are building companies that take care of entire building project? By ‘ entire’ I mean finding a building lot, prepare all the permissions (of course I still need to sign/visit city offices etc.), prepare land for building and complete building of the house. I’m looking at capital area. I assume such a service would not be cheap but on the other hand, it would save lots of time and especially “nerves”.

    • Yamini

      Hey Zami, thank you for your kind words 🙂
      I think most Macklers can help you with the plot search and preparing the contracts. Although I highly recommend getting your own independent lawyer to review the contract first.

      For managing the entire construction project – there are many ‘Baufirmen or Hausbaufirmen’ in Germany that can do that for you. You can look for these keywords plus your city name. It should give you some results to start your research 🙂

      Good luck with your project!

  • Malcolm

    Great find!
    Was Googling how to get out of a property contract in Germany!

    I am new to Germany (and a freelancer) having moved here last year. Found a beautiful piece of land, paid the deposit, signed the contract with the notary, only to find out today, 6 months later, that the documents I was given stating it was bauland was outdated and it is no longer bauland!

    I have been waiting to get access rights on a private road across the neighbours land which is why it has taken so long as he was waiting on his land to be sold and he could not give this permission.

    The contract of sale is binding only if access right are given, but if this is given, any thoughts on where I stand based on the fact that the Estate Agent gave me the outdated document? The estate agents of course state that they are not liable for missinformation.

    I will probably need a lawyer, but would be good to hear your thoughts on this.

    • Yamini

      Hey Malcolm, this sounds insane! We had a similar issue as well. In our case, the inaccurate info came straight from the local bauamt and the real estate agent. If you don’t mind I’ll send you a message to your email?

  • Vikas

    Hi Yamini,

    Nice blog, had read it while I had started searching for plots. It was really helpful to give me a good intial idea on how to proceed. We just bought a land after searching for nearly 7 months :O. I feel that one needs a lot of luck to find a land that is affordable and does not have any obvious issues. The only drawback is that with house constructions, some costs only come up when the construction actually begins.

    We also had our contract proofed by a realestate lawyer for any pitfalls. We did that using “advocado.de”, it was also quiet easy and fast, the lawyer charged us €260 for the entire thing.

    We chose to go with a Fertighaus, it was more a personal choice. Our building company is “Schwörerhaus”, it is a bit pricy but has a good reputation. Moreover the consultant for the company in our city has a good reputation and thus we think it is probably a better choice. We will probably start the costruction in a few months (depending on the time it takes for us to get the Baugenehmigung). I can provide a feedback on the company here once we have the work done.

    I wish you all the best in your search for the builder.

    • Yamini

      Hey Vikas, This is just awesome! First – my congratulations! 😀

      Thank you for sharing your detailed experience. May I ask in which part of Germany you ended up building your house? We also considered Fertighaus – I think now the pre-fab tech is much better than a couple of decades ago. For me, the only issue was that any ‘personalisations’ to their draft add up to the costs rapidly. Good luck with the rest of the Hausbau journey! 🙂

  • Deepak

    Hello Yamini,

    Thanks for providing so much of information. Appreciate your efforts.

    I wanted to know if its ok to buy doppelhaushälfte plots and in case I buy it, who would be responsible for building adjacent walls and a common roof…If my plot is in the middle, can i wait until both my neighbours have built 😀 :D. or should we co-ordinate with each other neighbours architects to build the house ? How does it work? Where can I find the rules and regulations of doppelhaushälfte plots. Its only given that 2 floors are mandatory and an optional Dachgeschoss are required for a doppelhaushälfte .

    – Deepak

    • Yamini

      Hey Deepak, First – thank you so much for the kind words. 🙂
      Unfortunately, your questions are way beyond my scope of knowledge. The answers that you are looking for can only be provided by the responsible Bauamt or Landratsamt or a real estate lawyer.

    • Yamini

      Hey Joseph – I assume you mean a Baufenster, correct? This will fall under a ‘Bebauungsplanänderung’ i.e. a change in the B-plan. It can really differ from Bauamt to Bauamt. Bayern, for example, is notoriously very inflexible in these cases.

      50 cm – 1m is a very small change though, may be worth the effort to go through extra paperwork.

  • Pravin Boppuri

    Hi Yamini,

    Great Blog, lots of info for expats living in Germany who would want to invest in properties. I have recently started my journey and found a land to build house. I have just recieved the Grundbuch of the plot, Would you know any lawyers or some online document checking service with experts where i can get these verified? Unfortunately my legal service does not support this.

    Thanks,

    Pravin

    • Yamini

      Hey Pravin, Thank you very much!
      We used Anwalt.de to find a lawyer located close to us. We were quite happy with his consultation. Advocado also has a database of lawyers across Germany. They claim to offer a free first consultation. Not sure if a contract check-up is included, but worth looking into. Good luck and please let me know which service you end up using.

  • Paul

    Hi There and thanks for your great info on buying a house…very helpful indeed.

    If I may, I’d like to ask your view / experience / ideas on prefabricated houses (something I guess you have already considered). It seems to be an incredible idea for those who wish to build (if you can call it “building”) yet an impossible labyrinth of information exists that is difficult to navigate. However, I’ve seen many such houses around Bavaria (where I live).

    I guess the most attractive aspects about prefab houses is the short building time, the far lower cost and getting a new, modern house for that cost. Some houses seem to be stunning value for under 100,000 euros…for a new, modern, multi-room house. Even though the houses are mostly fixed designs, as they are sometimes modular, is possible to customise the designs to some extent.

    But it all sounds too good to be true and as I guess you have already looked into it, so I thought I would ask your opinion.

    Thanks a bunch,

    A fellow expat

    • Yamini

      Hey Paul, Glad to hear that you found this helpful 🙂

      Yeah, prefab homes have been around for quite a while in Germany. But from what we found, ‘Massivbau’ is still the preferred way of constructing a house in Germany. But the current prefab house tech is not far behind. We toured some Musterhausparks here in Franconia and I honestly could not tell the difference between a Massivbau and a Fertighaus.

      Regarding the price, maybe you already know, but many construction companies in Germany offer 3 or 4 levels of finish. The low price that you mentioned could be the ‘Rohbau’ level, where they just construct the outer facade and inner walls of the house. And rest (heating, tile, floor, electricity etc) is taken over by the homeowners. A ‘ready to move in prefab house’ (Schlüsselfertigbau) is as pretty much as expensive as a typical Massivbau house.

      Another thing we found was that any, and I mean any type of customisation in the design of a prefab house cost extra (sometimes a few 10s thousands) on the top of the base price.

      I would highly recommend to visit some Musterhausparks and collect as much information about the base prices and the (often hidden) add ons. And like I keep telling everyone here, get any contract verified by a lawyer before you sign anything 😀

  • DivaA

    Hi
    Thanks for the tips especially the insurance. Have you now decided on a building company? It is a bit difficult to decide on one. Any additional tips would be appreciated.

    • Yamini

      Hey Diva, We don’t have a bauzwang (obligation to built) on our land. So we have not really come around finalising on a bautäger. But we did some research so I agree with you that it is really hard to find a trustworthy company. I would recommend getting your house construction contract verified by a lawyer before you sign anything and make sure you understand everything in the text. Also visit the demo houses, site and offices of the companies and check their factories in person.

  • Augusto César Dias

    Have you built a house in your property?
    I’m interested in one property that is not free from builder. So I’d have to build the house with this company. Which is fine for me and we can afford it.
    I’m just a bit insecure what can come after that I’m not aware of. From what I understood I’d still have to give some final touches on the house like flooring in the rooms and painting. But I don’t know what else could come…

    • Yamini

      Hey Augusto,

      We still have not built the house yet 🙂 Still in homework phase. We have been advised to research as much as possible for the right builder company. Also to get any contracts proofread by a lawyer before signing. There’s too much on stake and lots of things could go wrong if we end up hiring a subpar builder. Is there somebody you know personally who could recommend you a company? We’re asking around in our social circle.

          • Shimaa

            Hello Yamini,
            we are currently looking for a land to buy in the circle around Nurenberg also and need your consultancy in choosing the company to build the house and also to make sure that the cost will be clear enough and well calculated.

          • Yamini

            Hi Shimma, I’m afraid I cannot make any personal recommendations for something like this. 🙂 If you are living in Nurenberg area I would suggest going to FertighausWelt Heßdorf where you can tour ‘musterhäuser’ constructed by some companies and meet their representatives who can give you professional consultation.

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