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Buying House in Germany: Step by Step Guide for Foreigners

Yes, foreigners can buy a house in Germany. Here is a complete guide for Expats living in Germany on how to buy real estate in Germany.

A couple hugging each other while admiring their newly bought house
A guide for Expats to buy real estate in Germany

Key Takeaways

  • Foreigners can buy real estate in Germany. There is no visa requirement to buy a house in Germany.

  • Foreigners need a valid visa to get a mortgage from a German bank.

  • Contact several German banks and brokers to get an idea of how much loan you can get and at what terms.

  • Use real estate portals like immobilienscout24 to find a property in your budget.

  • Price atlas from Homeday or Immobilienscout24 will give you a good idea of house prices in a particular location.

  • You can hire a property appraiser (Gutachter) to evaluate the house you are considering buying in Germany.

  • Sign the mortgage contract 1 week before signing the property purchase contract (Kaufvertrag).

  • You can negotiate a better mortgage contract if you have offers from different banks in Germany.

  • As a buyer, you have the right to choose your Notar. Thus, you can look for an English-speaking Notar.

  • Get a creditworthiness letter from a German bank to increase your chances of buying a house in Germany.

Table of Content

Who is eligible to buy real estate in Germany?

Anyone can buy a property in Germany. You do not need a visa to purchase real estate in Germany.

Thus, as a foreigner, you can buy any property you like if you have the money.

But, if you want to take a mortgage from a German bank. You will need a valid visa and many other documents to be eligible.

I explained in detail how to get a mortgage from a German bank here.

That said, let us understand the process of buying a property in Germany.

I have divided the whole process into four parts:

  1. Check your affordability

  2. Find a property within that range

  3. Finish the paperwork required to buy the property

  4. Wait


Part 1: Check your affordability: How much credit you can get from a German bank and at what terms?

Contact banks to check the maximum loan amount you are eligible for

The first step is to figure out your finance options.

To do that, contact different banks to check how much credit you can get.

I will suggest you contact your home bank first. Ask them how much credit you are eligible for.

It will give you an idea. But, do not rely on only one bank. Different banks offer different options.

Contact German brokers to explore different mortgage offers

Contact brokers like Interhyp or Dr. Klein in the next step. They have affiliations with hundreds of banks and can give you further insights.

Note: Never make a buy decision based on a broker's word. They are the middle man, and their word means nothing.

Brokers may say you can get a credit, but the bank may reject it. Thus, until you have a confirmation from a bank, you do not have access to a loan.

What is the goal of contacting different banks and brokers?

The purpose of contacting various banks is to know your affordability. It will act as your guard rails when you start your buy journey.

At this point, I will not negotiate mortgage offers with the banks.

Currently (2022-2023), you have a 100% finance option in Germany. It means you can get a loan equal to the property's sale price.

You only have to bring 7–12 % of the property's sale price (Nebenkosten) from your pocket.

By the end of this step, you will know how much you can afford and how much you need to bring from your side.

Once you know your price range, it is time to start looking for a property.


Part 2: How to find a property in Germany

To find your dream house, you have to do market research. You have to check whether you can find something that suits your needs within your budget.

Read this guide to know what to check in a property before buying it.

Steps from searching for a property to sending an offer to the seller

  • Start searching for your dream house on German real estate portals.

  • During market research, shortlist a few properties you think look interesting.

  • Next, book an appointment with the sellers to visit those properties.

  • Ask the seller to send you the property documents before your visit. It will allow you to study the documents and know more about the property before visiting.

  • If you like the property after your visit, you can make an offer to the seller.

  • If the seller accepts your offer, congratulations, you move to the next part.

Major websites in Germany to search for your dream house

  • Immobilienscout24

  • Immowelt

  • eBay kleinanzeige

  • 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.

  • Local newspaper: Germany is an aging population. The baby boomer generation still prefers using newspapers to post advertisements.

In today's world, you can research the area and the property you want to buy online. Read this guide to learn how to evaluate a property online.

The online research technique I shared in the guide will save you time, energy, and money.

Tips and Recommendations for buying a house in Germany

  • Visit at least four to five properties before you decide to buy one.

  • The more properties you will see more you will learn about your local real estate market.

  • Don't be in a hurry to buy a house. It is a time-consuming process that needs patience and a lot of money.

  • Use the price atlas from Immobilienscout24 and Homeday to get an idea of the real estate prices in a particular area.

  • Suppose you are confused and cannot evaluate a property yourself. Then, you can hire an "Appraiser (Gutachter or Sachverständiger)" to evaluate the house you want to buy. To find one, Google "Gutachter <Your city name>" or "Sachverständiger <Your city name>.

  • Get a letter from the bank stating that you are eligible for up to X amount of credit. Mention to the seller that you have a credit eligibility letter in your first message. If you like the place, show this letter to the seller to gain the seller's confidence. This piece of paper immediately changes the opinion of the seller about you. But unfortunately, many people either don't know about it or do not use it.


Part 3: Paperwork required to buy a house in Germany

Now you have found the place you want to buy, and the seller agreed to your offer. The next step is to check the paperwork you must do to become a homeowner.

Step 1: Get the mortgage contract from a German bank

1. Get the list of documents

Contact your bank and get a list of documents the bank requires to give you credit.

2. Submit the documents

Submit the required documents to the bank. Once you have submitted all the required documents, the bank may take some time to check them.

3. The bank might send an appraiser to evaluate the property

The bank might send an evaluator to inspect the property you want to buy before approving the credit.

Evaluator's job is to check whether the house and its sale price match or not. Of course, every bank evaluates the property differently. But, you do not have to worry about it.

The price banks come up with is usually lower than the sale price. But, in most cases, the bank's lower house valuation is not a major concern.

I talk about how to interpret the bank's property valuation in the guide "How to get a mortgage in Germany." So, read it for more details.

4. The final offer from the bank

After evaluating the property and your profile bank will give you a final offer. The bank will draft a credit contract if you agree to the offer.

5. Negotiate the offer with the banks

Before you agree to the bank's offer, you need to negotiate the contract terms. You can negotiate the terms successfully if you have offers from other banks.

Learn the tricks to negotiating an offer with a German bank here.

6. Finalize the bank

This step ends once you finalize the bank.

Step 2: Find Notar to start the official buying process

Once you have a final offer from the bank, the next step is to look for a Notar near you and book an appointment.

Who is a Notar?

Notary (Notar) is a neutral entity; that drafts the purchase contract. It takes both the seller's and the buyer's interests into consideration.

Furthermore, Notar makes sure that the seller can sell the property. It informs the buyer about the property's use restrictions, if any.

In short, Notar takes care of the whole buying process. And it protects both buyers' and sellers' interests.

Do I have the freedom to choose my Notar?

As a buyer, you have a right to choose your Notar. Thus, if you are looking for an English-speaking Notar, you have a chance to find one.

In big German cities, it is easy to find an English-speaking Notar. But, you do not have to worry if you cannot find one.

You can hire a translator to translate the proceedings and the documents.

The initial draft of the purchase contract (Kaufvertrag)

Once you have found the Notar, it is time to book an appointment with them.

Notar will give you a form to fill out to proceed. It is a 2-page form asking for buyers', sellers', and property information.

Notar needs this information to create the initial draft of the purchase contract.

Once the draft is ready, Notar will send it to both buyer and seller at least 2 weeks before signing the contract. It gives the buyer and seller enough time to review the contract.

You can review it yourself or with a lawyer or a friend. There are also online services that check the purchase agreement for a small fee.

If you want to make any changes to the draft, you can ask the Notar to do so.

Notar creates the final contract once both parties agree to its conditions.

Step 3: Sign Mortgage and Purchase Contract

By this time, both mortgage and purchase contracts are ready. The next step is to make appointments with the Notar and the bank to sign the contract.

💡 TIP: You should sign the mortgage contract before signing the purchase contract.

There are two reasons behind it:

  1. First, it ensures you have the money before signing the purchase contract.

  2. Second, you can cancel the mortgage contract if you or the seller decides to cancel the deal at the last moment.

In Germany, you have the right to cancel the mortgage contract without any charges within 14 days.

💡 NOTE: 14 days include weekends and public holidays. So, do not confuse them with business days. When in doubt check with your bank consultant.

Once you have signed the mortgage contract, it's time to sign the purchase contract.

The signing of the purchase contract marks the end of this part. It is also the last big step from your end.


Part 4: Finally, it's time to wait and watch

Congratulations, you have done all the hard work, and now it's time to sit back and wait.

From this point onward, you follow the instructions of the Notar. So here is what will happen next.

  • Notar will send you the invoice for their services and a copy of the signed purchase contract.

  • Notar will notify the land register office (Grundbuchamt) to add your name as a new homeowner.

  • The finance office (Finanzamt) gets notified about the property transaction.

  • Finanzamt sends the buyer a letter to pay the land transfer tax (Grunderwerbsteuer). It may take a month from signing the purchase contract or longer to receive this letter.

  • The Notar makes sure all the documentation is in order. If yes, Notar will inform you and the bank to pay the seller the agreed purchase price.

Once you have paid the purchase price, congratulations; you are the house owner in Germany.

Not officially, but you get the keys and can move into your new house or rent it out.

Officially you become the owner when your name gets into the land registry. However, the land register office usually takes 2–3 months to enter the new owner's name.

I know it is a lot, but the hard part from your end is to find the right home and credit. After that, rest falls itself in place.

You now have an overview of the buying process. To dive deep into each step, check the individual guides on GermanPedia.

  • Mortgage

  • Understanding property documents

  • Evaluating property online

  • Evaluating property onsite

  • Cost of owning a property


What is Nebenkosten?

It is the amount that covers the costs involved in buying real estate in Germany.

The below table shows the costs that come under Nebenkosten.

Table 1: Costs included in the Nebenkosten

Expenses involved in buying a house in Germany

How much does it cost?

Land transfer tax (Grunderwerbsteuer)

3,5 - 6,5 % (varies from province to province)

Land register cost (Grundbuchkosten)


Notary Costs (Notarkosten)

Approx 1,5 % plus tax

Real estate broker commission (Maklergebühren)

3,5 - 7 %

Property appraiser (Gutachter/Sachverständiger)

Approx 450 €, depending on the property

Moving costs (Umzugskosten)

500-2.000 €, depends on the city and the number of things to move

Renovation Costs (Sanierungskosten)

The renovation cost depends on the condition of the property. You can also finance it by the bank.

The fee for taking the credit (Finanzierungsnebenkosten)

Depends on the bank and your contract. Usually, it is part of the mortgage interest you pay.

(Source: Dr. Klein)

It is the sum you need on top of the real estate's sale price.

So, for example, you want to buy an apartment whose sale price is €250k. Then, you need to bring 17.5k (7% of 250k) to 30k (12% of 250k) from your pocket.

Thus, the total cost to buy the apartment is 250k € + (17.7k to 30k) €.

Nebenkosten percentage depends on two factors:

  • Land transfer tax in the province you buy a house

  • Real estate broker's commission.

Different provinces of Germany have varying land transfer taxes. Similarly, different brokers charge different commissions.

Hence, depending on your broker's commission, Nebenkosten will vary. You will save some money if you do not buy the property via a broker.

The below table summarizes the land transfer tax in different provinces of Germany.

Table 2: Overview of Land Tranfer Tax (Grundwerbsteuer 2022) in Germany


Land transfer tax


3,5 %


5,0 %


5,0 %


6,0 %


6,5 %


4,5 % (Increase to 5.5 percent planned from 2023)


6,0 %


5,0 %


5,0 %


6,5 %


5,0 %


6,5 %


3,5 %


5,0 %


6,5 %


6,5 %

(Source: )


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>


Disclaimer: Some of the links in the article are affiliate links. Hence, we earn from qualifying purchases without costing you a cent extra.

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