Assessing Property in Germany: 11 Things To Check Before Buying a House
Updated: Jul 26, 2022
How to explore and assess the location and the property in Germany. Learn the tools you can use to evaluate the German real estate market like a pro.
You can find every information online. So start searching for your dream house online to save time and money.
Spend enough time online evaluating properties to get an idea of your local real estate market.
Collect all the information in one place. It makes it easier to compare different properties and track them.
You can use a housing price atlas to get an idea of the real estate price in a particular region.
Do not underestimate the power of Google Maps. Use it to explore the amenities in the area you want to buy a house.
How you write the message to the seller is essential. It can make a difference between getting a reply and not.
As the German real estate market is competitive, you have to be quick on your feet. You have to be the first to send the message to the seller. On top of it, you must decide whether you want to buy the property or not quickly.
Table of contents
How to evaluate an area where you consider buying a property?
Tips on writing a message to a real estate seller in Germany to get a response
In today's age, we are used to doing things online. So, looking online is the first step in searching for a house.
1. Websites you can use to search for a property in Germany
Here are some major portals I use to find a property. Of course, depending on the city you are searching for a house in, some platforms may be more popular than others.
Immobilo: It is a portal that collects real estate advertisements from different platforms and shows them in one place. You can get an overview of the property on Immobilo. But, to access the property details, it forwards you to the website where the seller originally posted the ad.
eBay kleinanzeige: Germany's most prominent platform to buy and sell used things. Locals use it to sell their houses also.
Banks' websites (e.g., Post bank, BW bank, Sparkasse, etc.): Different banks also have their websites to sell houses. They post the latest homes available for sale on their websites first. Hence, it's worth looking there also. Some banks like BW bank have a customer-only/account-holder-only real estate website. So, check with your bank whether they offer such services or not.
Local newspaper: Germany is an aging population. The baby boomer generation still prefers using newspapers to post advertisements. So, buy local newspapers to find your dream house.
2. How to evaluate an area where you consider buying a property?
Follow the following steps to evaluate the area of your interest.
Step 1: Set up your search filters
Follow the following steps to set up your house search filter.
Use the "Draw area (Zeichen)" option of ImmobilienScout24 to mark your favorite area(s).
Put the maximum amount you can afford in the "Purchase price (Kaufpreis)" section. It will filter out the properties that do not come within your budget.
Hit enter and browse through the results to check
Do you find an interesting property?
How many properties do you find that fit your requirements?
If you find enough (more than 10 properties), then skip to section 1.2. But, if you do not find enough properties, then continue reading.
In this scenario, delete the "Purchase price" filter and check the results.
Do you find an interesting property, and how many?
If you did find something interesting, then check the asking price. Is it way outside your budget or touching the borders?
It will give you an idea about the price of the real estate that fits your requirements in that area.
With this information, you can decide whether to lower your expectations or stretch your budget.
If you still do not find enough property in a particular area, it's time to explore other areas.
The outcome of this step:
You know the average price of the real estate in different areas
You know what you can afford in any particular area
Step 2: Collect all the potential properties in one place
Exploring houses on sale online can quickly become overwhelming. Thus, I create a document to save my research results.
I recommend using MS Excel/Google Sheets to perform the following steps.
Create an excel as shown in "Image 1" or download the template from here.
Feel free to extend the fields in excel. Use column C in excel to represent your wishes and needs.
Add the properties you find attractive in excel.
Suppose you are buying a property as an investor. You can use this excel to record the average rent you can get in that area.
After filling the excel, it will look like the below image.
This excel will be your holy grail. It serves the following purpose.
The idea of the real estate price in different areas.
An overview of the properties you like.
Easy to compare different properties.
Quickly identify which property is expensive or selling at a fair price.
You can keep a check on the properties you visited and made an offer.
Step 3: Check the real estate prices in Germany using the "Preisatlas"
You can use "Preisatlas" to check an area's average real estate price.
Here is the list of websites I use that offer this service for free:
Immobilienscout24 price atlas
Homeday price atlas
There are other Preisatlas websites, but I like these two.
The outcome of this step:
You know the average price calculated by you in Excel and shown in the price atlas.
Thus, you have a pretty good idea of the real estate price in that area. And you collected all this information while sitting at home.
Step 4 (Bonus): Local German authorities offers the home price atlas for free (Marktberichte und Bodenrichtwerte)
Local authorities also offer the price atlas (Preisatlas) for free. To find it, google the following term; "Bodenrichtwert <your area>."
You can also use it to get an idea.
Step 5: Check the amenities in the area and their rating
Every business has an online presence nowadays. By doing a quick search on Google Maps, you can find all the amenities in the area.
You should at least explore the amenities that are important to you. For example, some people prefer access to schools via public transport. For some having a fitness club nearby would be a must.
So, check the facilities available in the area you are considering buying a house. And the best part is you can do it on your phone while sitting on a couch.
For example, look for the type and the number of restaurants in an area. Check their ratings. It will give you an idea of the people living in that area.
For instance, a mix of restaurants might indicate that people from different cultures live there.
After this exercise, you will get an idea of the real estate prices in different areas. Next, go and visit the locations on weekends to get a feeling. Lastly, shortlist the places you like and fit your budget.
3. How to evaluate a property in Germany online?
I check the following parameters to evaluate a property online.
1. Construction year (Baujahr)
In Germany, the construction quality is of a high standard. People living in the building also maintain it regularly. Thus, buying an apartment in a well-maintained building constructed in the 1960s is fine. As you might have guessed, older constructions are cheaper than newer ones.
In real estate, the location of the property matters the most. But, one cannot judge an area by only looking at the house prices.
To evaluate the area, you must visit it, check the grocery stores, restaurants, the city center, etc.
You can also explore the region online, as suggested in Section 2, Step 5.
3. Condition of the property
Is the property newly built or renovated or needs renovation or well maintained? Many people ignore properties in poor conditions. But, real estate professionals buy such properties at dirt-low prices. Then, they renovate them and sell them at a profit. You can also use this technique to buy and design your dream house. First, learn the basics of house construction in Germany. Then, negotiate the price of an un-renovated property and develop it as per your taste.
4. Occupied or empty
Is the property rented, the seller is living there, or is it empty. Rented properties are usually cheaper than vacant properties. It is not easy to vacant an occupied property, and the rent is also lower than today's rent. Hence making the occupied properties unattractive. On top of it, German laws favor tenants. Thus, I prefer empty properties over rented ones.
5. House maintenance and utility fee (Hausgeld)
It is the amount you have to pay every month. Older properties have higher Hausgeld than newer properties. If the Hausgeld is unusually high, my first instinct is to reject the apartment.
6. The number of floors in the apartment building
Unlike Frankfurt, people living in other German cities do not prefer high-rise buildings.
For example, in Stuttgart, the price of apartments in high-rise buildings is lower than that in multi-family houses. One of the reasons for a lower price is the lack of demand.
Thus, check whether people in your city find high-rise buildings attractive or not.
7. Garden (Garten)
Some houses and apartments come with a garden. Usually, the price of a property with a garden is higher than that without.
8. Apartment floor (Etage)
If you buy an apartment, its price may vary depending on its floor, especially if the building has no lift.
Price is not the only factor when considering the apartment's floor. For example, I prefer the ground floor to exercise in my apartment and not worry about disturbing my neighbors living below.
One of my friends prefers a middle floor, as the apartment stays warm during winter. It is thanks to the heat from the flats below and above it.
So, shortlist potential properties online based on your floor preference.
9. Terrace or Balcony (Terrasse oder Balkon)
Apartments with a balcony are more attractive than that without.
10. Parking space (Parkplatz)
Having private parking saves you time and the headache of searching for one daily.
Suppose it is indoor parking, even better. Then, you don't have to clean snow in winter, leaves during autumn, pollen during spring, and dirt during summer.
Most of the sellers sell the parking space separate from the house. But, it is easier to negotiate the selling price of the parking.
I always ask the seller to include the parking in the property's sales price. Most of the time, the seller agrees.
11. Property's floor plan (Grundriss)
In the property plan, you can see the following.
Whether the kitchen and the toilet have windows.
Is the kitchen separate or not.
From which room is the access to the balcony.
Does the floor plan fits your needs?
Size of each room.
Many times, I reject the property as I do not like the floor plan. And guess what? I do it while researching online.
Tips on writing a message to the real estate sellers in Germany to get a response
You finished the real estate market analysis of the area you like. You have shortlisted some houses and want an appointment to visit them.
The gap between the supply and demand of real estate in Germany is high. Because of it, the property seller gets a lot of requests from potential buyers. Thus, to get your foot in the door, do the following.
Set notification alerts on the real estate portals to get an email when someone posts a new property.
Be the first to send a message to the seller. If you have done the research mentioned in sections 2 and 3, you can judge a new property within minutes.
Get a credit worthiness letter from the bank stating you are eligible to get a loan of X amount.
Write the message in the language used in the advertisement. For example, if the ad is in German, write the message in German.
Always mention in your message that you have financing approval from the bank.
Here is a sample message you can write to the property seller.
Hallo Herr/Frau <Last name of the seller>, ich interessiere mich für die Wohnung. Ich habe die Finanzierung von der Bank. Können Sie mir bitte einen Termin geben, um die Wohnung zu besuchen? Viele Grüße, <Your name> <Contact information>
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