6 Tips: How to find a property for sale in Germany

author image

Stephan Raczak

May 2, 2018
background image

As an expat, it can seem difficult to find the right sources of information when it comes to buying a property in Germany. Here are a few handy resources that can help you find your dream home. Besides subscribing to Hypofriend’s property radar when you sign up, you can use the following tips.

Table of Contents

  • 1. Hypofriend's property radar

  • 2. Online portals

  • 3. Project developers

  • 4. Real estate brokers & newsletters

  • 5. Classified ads & Ebay Kleinanzeigen

  • 6. Personal network

  • Specialized platforms for real estate investors

1. Hypofriend's property radar

Before starting your search, you will want to make sure you have calculated your property budget. If you use Hypofriend's affordability calculator and sign up, you will automatically be able to be updated on properties that you can afford. 

Our property radar will match you to properties around your area from multiple real estate listings platforms so that you don't have to double or triple work. Start by calculating your affordability and signing up to the property radar.

2. Online portals

Online property portals are a great first step in finding the apartment of your dreams. Portals like these aggregate large volumes of properties, and it’s worthwhile to search thoroughly. Typically, these sites will feature detailed search filters, allowing you to narrow down your search to the properties that suit you best in terms of price, size, and location.

Oftentimes, these sites will allow you to sign up for email updates, so you receive new listings in your mailbox that meet your criteria as soon as they’re posted. Staying up to date with new properties has become extremely crucial, as reacting quickly is essential if you are looking to purchase in today’s competitive German real estate market.

We recommend that prospective buyers set up search profiles on the two most popular online portals: Immowelt and ImmobilienScout24. Just these two portals account for about 80% of all listings in Germany, and they are the go-to place for most sellers. Alternatively, you can check out the new platform GoVesta, which aggregates properties from real estate brokers across Germany.

3. Project developers

Another option is to go straight to the source. Finding a property via a project developer can have many advantages. For example, by buying directly from a developer you most likely won’t have to pay any real estate commission, potentially saving you as much as 3.57% on the cost of your new home.

Buying from a developer also allows you to purchase your home before the property hits the market, so your chances of competing with other prospective buyers are usually lower.

Buying from project developers also means that you are acquiring an entirely new property that will depreciate less than existing buildings. Compared with older buildings from the 20th century, with a new built, you can expect to have much lower maintenance and repair costs in the coming decades. A new-built project also offers you much more liberty in deciding on your ideal floor plan, interior facilities, and many more details you can decide.

Contrary to what you might expect, finding projects that are in development isn’t too difficult. You can research new developments in Berlin on Neubau Kompass or InBerlinWohnen. Alternatively, you can check out the latest offerings from popular development firms like Degewo or Project Immobilien directly on their websites.

Be aware that there are also developers involved primarily in up-scale projects like Exklusiv. So, no matter what kind of property you’re looking for, there’s likely a development that suits your criteria.

4. Real estate brokers & newsletters

One of the most tried and true methods of finding a property is by paying attention to real estate newsletters. Like email updates from property portals, newsletters will keep you informed of the latest listings in your desired area.

Purchasing your property through a real estate broker also comes with its set of advantages. Simply inform your broker of your criteria, and they’ll take care of the rest. Just be certain that you have all your paperwork accounted for with a mortgage broker beforehand, as the purchasing process can move quickly.

While it’s definitely helpful to get in touch with big-name real estate brokers like Best Place, don’t hesitate to approach smaller brokers like Heider Immobilien and David Borck Immobiliengesellschaft.

5. Classified ads & Ebay Kleinanzeigen

You might already be familiar with Ebay Kleinanzeigen through purchasing used furniture or electronics, but it’s also a great place to look for properties that not many people are aware of. As with the other methods on this list, acting fast is of the utmost importance. If you see a property that matches your criteria, call the buyer and arrange a viewing as soon as possible.

When buying through a classified ad, you’re less likely to have to pay a real estate commission because the listings are usually created by the property owners. Not only will this save you the realtor fee (up to 3.57% in Berlin) but also in many cases you will be able to negotiate the price to a larger extent. Just like the aforementioned property portals, you can choose to receive email updates about new properties once they are listed.

6. Personal network

Word-of-mouth can be a powerful tool when searching for a property. Ask around to see if any friends or colleagues know of anyone about to sell.

There are many advantages to finding a property through your own network. For starters, you get a chance to speak with the current owners before the property even hits the market, so you can negotiate the house price. You also don’t have to worry about competing with other buyers because you are ahead of everybody else and could have the exclusive right to buy.

If you are currently renting a place and the owner decides to sell that property, you as a tenant will have the exclusive right of purchase. This is also known as the “Vorkaufsrecht” in Germany, and basically guarantees tenants the preemptive right to purchase the property they rent before it hits the market.

It might be a proactive move to ask your current landlord if there is an intention to sell the property that you currently rent. It may not be next month, but there is a chance that the landlord wishes to sell the property in the near future.

Finding an interesting property via your network requires a fair amount of work of asking around and talking to many people. Make sure that your network knows what kind of property you are looking for. If they are aware that you are looking for example for an “Altbau” 3-room apartment in the Berlin ring area for a max purchase price of 400,000 euros, they are much clearer about your desires and can potentially share it with their network.

Specialized platforms for real estate investors

This method is of interest to people who intend to buy-to-let, rather than those who are looking for their own home.

Platforms like these take the listings from the portals mentioned at the start of this list and filter them to find investment-worthy properties with the highest rental yields. This way, potential investors don’t have to go through hundreds of listings just to identify that one property that meets their investment criteria.

In a current market of declining rental yields and rising property prices, you can use a platform to deliver higher yield properties in preselected locations in Germany directly to your mailbox.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways to find the right property for you. Just be sure to have all your relevant documents ready, and prepare to move swiftly once you’ve found your desired apartment. If you want to calculate the maximum property price you can afford, check out our affordability calculator.  

author image

Stephan Raczak

Stephan is one of Hypofriend’s Mortgage Experts.

Looking for a mortgage?

Use Hypofriend's affordability calculator to see what you can afford based on your personal situation.

See what I can afford

Use Hypofriend's affordability calculator to see what you can afford based on your personal situation.