We moved to Berlin in 2018 from Budapest, where Richard spent 10 years renovating and managing apartments for investment and Airbnb. Magda works as a Division Director in an international human rights foundation that has now relocated to Berlin. Richard is learning German full time and has established a concrete interior design business making kitchen benchtops and bathroom sinks in Berlin. We have 2 young boys Alex 11 and Adam 6 both of whom now go to the same school here in Pankow which is very convenient for us. We have a beautiful classical high ceilinged apartment in Budapest and were keen to at least explore the idea of owning something similar in Berlin, if at all possible before property prices increase any further here, and given how difficult finding a flat to rent has become for newcomers.
How did the process for buying a home go?
Overall it went quite smoothly, mainly because we connected with Hypofriend right from the start of the process. Richard found them online while beginning his research on the Berlin housing market.
Hypofriend sat down with us and explained the buying process, document requirements, timelines and key considerations when choosing mortgage products. As expats with no German language skills, having all this explained in English very clearly, was invaluable to us.
The most difficult part was really finding the right place for our requirements and budget. We needed something big enough with 3 bedrooms, cycling distance from our school as well as well connected to Magda’s work, Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg.
Hypofriend armed us with a mortgage pre-approval which meant we were taken seriously by vendors. As soon as we found a property, they also very quickly helped us work out what we could or could not afford in terms of specific mortgage commitments.
Why did you not work with your normal bank to get a home-loan?
We had told our bank that we would be interested in talking to an advisor a number of times when we first arrived, in fact, but they never respond back, so we were looking for alternative solutions pretty early on. But to be honest, after meeting Hypofriend we didn’t bother to pursue any alternatives. We knew that they were much better placed to secure the best mortgage deal for us as they work with all the relevant banks in Germany anyway and they could better explain and help us through the whole process from start to finish.
What would you recommend your friends to do when buying their first home?
Do some initial market research on what you think you can afford, where you would like to live. Be flexible on this one if you can, Berlin is huge and many districts outside of the inner circle are attractive too, but more affordable. Once you have a basic idea of your numbers, incomes etc set up a meeting with Hypofriend! You will not go wrong.
Looking for a mortgage? Use Hypofriend’s affordability calculator to see what you can afford based on your personal situation.