Property Buying Advice

Should I buy a Property in Austria?

Property buying advice:

Austria was voted 5th safest country in the world. ( 2014)

Austria is not just a ski destination!

Property buying advice

Property buying advice

Property buying advice: Yes, we know it is famous for its Alps and cosy Austrian wooden chalets! But, leaving aside ski-ing for a moment, have you ever stopped to consider what is underneath all that white stuff that people skim over at great speed?

Well, when the snow melts, out come the meadow flowers and the mountain slopes are turned into a glorious canvas of yellow and green stretching for as far as the eye can see. The spring days are warm and the streams gush crystal clear water as the mountain snows rapidly melt.

Then there is summer in the mountains. No, not cold as you might think; temperatures regularly reach the high 30’s centigrade 90’s fahrenheit, so, swimming in the lakes and sunbathing are just as normal as on the Spanish Costas…maybe even warmer!

The cable cars are filled with walkers and groups wanting to experience the heady atmosphere of high altitude and the views that are afforded across the alpine mountain ranges.

Following behind these hot summers come the golden autumns, when the leaves on the trees turn to shades of gold and burnished copper creating picture postcard scenes.

And of course, we have winter, when the snow starts to fall and the land goes to sleep.

So then what is there to look forward to? A white Christmas of course! The fantastic Christ Kindel Markets in all large towns and cities. No plastic decorations here! There is very little commercialism to be found and Christmas is spent enjoying the event and not the brightly wrapped presents!

Ok, now comes the superb ski-season with some of the best mountain pistes in the world with excellent ski areas to suit all standards. From the beautiful Voralberg in the west to the vast Winter Sports world of Ski Amade in the central Alps.

Added to all this you have the culture and music festivals all year. Composers such as Mozart and Strauss are the best known but there are many more. So, what are you waiting for? Look inside and find out what is on offer in Austria.

It is not expensive either.  Diesel has been at about 1 euro per litre for some time, but like the rest of Europe is dependent on what happens in the middle east! March 2016 – Diesel is at present 102 cents per litre.

In the supermarket, bottles of good quality wine cost from £3 to £4. Beer is about 50p for a half litre bottle. Food is a little cheaper, but of course there will always be imported items that are more expensive.

Property for sale in Austria is still reasonably priced and it certainly makes for a safe investment, particularly as you can make good returns on your money by renting your property for holidays, this is of course where holiday renting is permitted.

There are many different regions and the rules seem to vary from area to area.  It is always best to check with the local Gemeinde and also the local management companies. The last thing you need is to buy a holiday property and have no control over the use!!

Austria boasts some of the best ski areas in Europe and as such these areas are popular with foreign buyers, especially as holiday homes.

It is certainly not an expensive investment, as a studio apartment in a good ski area can start from as little as 40,000 Euros or less.

Our property buying advice: Property in the less well known areas in Eastern and southern Austria is cheaper and one can pick up a bargain house for under 150,000 Euro.

It is a clean, safe country in which to live or have an investment home. There is little crime in the countryside areas. The hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions are invariably spotless. The lakes and rivers are maintained at “drinking water” quality and there is no litter anywhere. Strict recycling laws are in place to keep the environment safe.

Taxes tend to be higher in Austria so one should also be aware of the possibility that the local tax office might want a slice of any income.

What about purchase costs for a property in Austria?

The average total cost to buy a property usually works out at approximately 11%* of the purchase price, the fees are regulated by the government and are made up of the following:

Property transfer tax of 3.5%
Notary fees are from 2% + 20% vat depending on the size of the property and complexity of the work involved.
Austrian Estate agent commissions are  3%.+ 20% vat  4% + vat if the price is under 40,000 euros.
Property registration around 1.1%
Stamp duty 0.5-1%
Land registry fees of approximately £300 to £450
This information is for reference only as government taxes and fees are liable to change without notice.

Our property buying advice: Check costs with Notar.

NOTE:  Fees due to Amazing Austria are included within the above agent commission fees*. You therefore pay no more by using our services, as we share with our Austrian colleagues.

( Note: For requested  consultancy, third party legal advice or special property research agreed between a client and Amazing Austria, additional fees are chargeable hourly or daily. )

Which area is best to buy in?

This depends on your own specific requirments.  Many people go on a ski holiday to Austria and they want simply to get a property in a ski area, others go for walking and the lakes in summer and they want an apartment by a lake!!

Then of course there are clients who want to move to Austria to run a business or buy an apartment they can let for holidays to make an income. If you are buying because you love an area and simply want a holiday home, then this is perfect, just buy in the area you love… but if you are buying for investment, business or income, then you must forget the emotional side and consider the financial possibilities of an area.   The ideal is to get the best of both worlds where possible…ski-ing for the winter months and walking and the lakes for summer months.

Our property buying advice is to consider all properties, even if you are an avid skier, your paying guests may just want to walk, cycle or swim in a lake. Remember, with commercial property it is better to pay more to be in an area that gets lots of tourism and therefore lots of potential guests…so although you can pick up a bargain in the wilds of Austria, consider how many people might come or can even find a flight to get to you? We are always happy to advise and our Austrian colleagues are on hand to update with the latest regulations.

Are the British welcome?

What about the locals…do they want overseas buyers?  Well this is a thorny question, particularly since the Brexit vote!

Some areas welcome overseas investors with open arms, but other areas such as Salzburgland and Tirol are not so pre-disposed to outsiders purchasing property, particularly as they make enough income from tourism. Also, they have an active policy of trying to get holiday properties back into the market for locals.

Our property buying advice: It is always best to check with the local Estate agent (we can help if it is one of our Austrian colleagues.) You can also speak with the local Gemeinde (council) and ask them about buying property in their area. What the rules are etc.

You have to remember, all countries in Europe are now starting to worry about the number of people arriving in their country and being a burden on the Government purse…unless of course you are emigrating to Austria and bringing all your tax payments to them. This is another area that you should check about… your tax situation!

Once you become main resident in Austria, then you pay your taxes on worldwide income to Austria tax man!

What about Healthcare in Austria?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions from clients wanting to live or retire to Austria, so we will answer it first….the system is very good and efficient as you would expect.  As an EU citizen you are entitled to the same care as any other citizen. Click here for link to full NHS information about healthcare and obtaining it in Austria.

What about the legal requirements to buy a property in Austria?

Once you have found the property of your dreams, be it a small studio apartment or a 6 bed ski chalet on a mountain top, the next step is to make a written offer.

Our property buying advice:  This can be difficult in another language and culture, so it is a good idea to take some advice from one of our local Austrian property agents.

Many agents, like Amazing Austria, speak good English and they are very experienced. They are in a position to know what the seller might be willing to accept from a sale. You need to also discuss anything else such as furniture or fittings that might be included in the sale. It is quite common for the furniture to be included when buying a holiday apartment. This value of furniture would be kept separate for stamp duty purposes. Our property buying advice: Always make sure you check this at the contract stage.

Next when you are ready to make an offer, this is put in writing and sent to the seller. Ourselves or the agent can advise on this offer document for you. On it will be itemised all the costs involved in buying the property such as legal fees, land registry costs, agents fees, stamp duty etc.

This usually amounts to up to approx 11% of the purchase price and is an additional cost to the property price. It is wise to keep this in mind when viewing properties. So, if you are buying a property for 100,000 euros you need to allow at least an extra 11,000 euros to cover all the costs involved.

The agent then sends the offer document to the seller. If the seller accepts your offer they would countersign it. The seller is given a fixed period to accept or decline your offer price.

Once the document is countersigned, bar all the legal documentation being prepared, you can take it that the property is yours and you have a legally binding contract! Our property buying advice: Do make sure you have your finance in place before you make a legal offer in writing, as once accepted you are committed.

A completion date is agreed between the seller and buyer for the purchase, then you must send the total amount, including all the costs, to the Notar or Solicitor. It is best to do this a few weeks before completion. This will allow time in case of any banking delays.

If you would like to set up a currency account for money transfer then click on the ‘Free currency account’ or also at the bottom of this page. You then have access to all the information that you need to make sure you get the best exchange rate and also minimise banking costs.

This information is a guide only and is not comprehensive. You are advised to take legal advice before making any purchase. If you have any questions about a purchase, please email us, our own registered Austrian Notar will gladly answer any queries.

Do I need a Valuation?

Properties here are built to the highest standards. There are generally no cowboy builders, as all are government licensed, so you can assume that the property is in good structural order and rely on the advice of the agent.

You can request a survey known as a Gutachten, if you wish. The Banks and mortgage providers have a ‘Property Price Book’ that they work from. This gives them a pretty good idea it the property is worth the price you are paying.

Can I get a Mortgage for Austrian property?

Austrian banks are not keen to lend at this time…not even to locals!! . So, the availability of mortgages is few and far between.  40% deposit is minimum usually required, especially when lending to foreign residents. This is because of the Basel 111, agreement on banking, which puts Banks under greater scrutiny and for them to hold more cash funds. This of course means there is less to lend!

Now the Banks are also under notice to only offer a mortgage is the persons income is in Euros!  This can effectively exclude the British! But mortgages are still possible, particularly if one is interested in as Guesthouse or Apartment house with an existing income. This can be used to obtain a mortgage.

The interest rates are around 2% as at Jan 2017 and a 20 year term is typical. But you can get up to a 30 year term, as you would in the UK. At the moment one of the local banks has a promotion, offering mortgages at 1.95%

You generally need to have 40% as a deposit plus your own buying costs..these can amount to 11% with all the taxes. So, you need to factor in for 50% of the purchase price being provided by yourself.

It is usual for the Austrian Banks to send one of their managers or mortgage advisors, to do a valuation, free of charge. From this valuation they will offer 50-60% of the value, depending on area and the resale possibility in the event of default!.

If you manage to negotiate a lower price with the seller, the bank will still give according to their risk factor valuation. There is a set up fee from Banks, for a mortgage and this tends to be around 2% of the loan.

We have an experienced Austrian Mortgage & Financial Advisor on our team, who can advise you about Mortgages and buying property in Austria. He will be able to do the ground work with the Banks and hopefully get you a few offers. Visit our mortgage page.

This keeps the choice in your hands and you are not being sold a mortgage that is unsuitable. Our  mortgage advice service is FREE and you are under no obligations. We are here to help make your purchase in Austria as simple as possible. Check our ‘Mortgages’ section for more details.

Our services and help with buying in Austria.

What do we do for you? We become your personal Property Consultants and advise you to the best of our knowledge. We are not always directly working for the seller, this is the job of our Austrian colleagues. Our remit is to look after your interests to the best of our ability. We have gained much knowledge of the Austria property market over the past 15 years and we use this knowledge to guide you to the best property for you.

We can negotiate on your behalf to ensure the best purchase price.  Our services and cost is shared with our Austrian Colleagues, so you pay no extra whatsoever.

What about Estate Agents Fees?

These are controlled by law. It will typically cost you up to 3% plus 20% vat. Properties costing less than 40,000 euros the fees are 4% + vat. Our property buying advice: Sometimes you can negotiate a fee, if the property is a very high value. Both the seller and the buyer pay a fee.

What other costs are there after buying an apartment in Austria?

There are service charges/maintenance fees for an apartment and
these may vary according to the size of the property you purchase. However these fees are included in the running costs (overheads) of the apartment and can include heating, water, rubbish collection, caretakers fees, general water, any exterior repairs or decoration that may be necessary, the building insurance and the garden maintenance. It is a monthly payment.

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Letting Your Property in Austria

If you are considering buying to let, there are lots of superb holiday apartments at very reasonable prices on good developments. These have the benefit of no freezing-up problems in winter as common central heating is provided in most apartment buildings inclusive with your monthly building management cost.  But new regulations, now require that you get permission of all other owners in a buiding before you can holiday let.

The rental market can be very good because of the all year attraction of Austria. But be aware that the local Gemeinde (Town Council) will want their tourist tax to cover the cost of additional resources needed in the holiday season. This is currently (2017) around Euro: 1.45 – 1.60  per person, over 15 yrs of age, per night.  About 10 euros for a week long stay.

The tax office also require you to collect 13% vat on the rental and submit a vat return. It costs approx 150 euros per quarter for an accountant to do this for you.

Here is the current situation for holiday renting.

Renting or subletting your own apartment to tourists – this initially sounds like a lucrative secondary service. The business model, however, has legal limits, since not every apartment can be rented directly to holidaymakers.

If you have an apartment that is big enough or you do not spend your whole year in it, you often think about renting rooms or renting them to tourists – after all, you can improve your own salary quite well. However, there are some legal stumbling blocks, which should respect both sub-tenants and tenants. Whether tenants or owners are allowed to rent their apartment to tourists depends on various factors.

If the owner wants to rent his apartment to tourists, it is important that he is not at odds with the purpose of the use. In most cases, houses in which condominiums are located are dedicated to housing. This means that the owner can rent his flat in principle, but the tenant must also use it for residential purposes. If an owner rents his apartment now at weekly intervals to tourists, the question arises whether he must register his apartment as a business enterprise.

Thus, the Supreme Court (OGH) has already been concerned (Az .: 3 Ob 158 / 11y). In a judgment, he decided that such a so-called “redistribution” is always necessary if the “legitimate interests” of the other property owners are affected. Whether this is true depends on the individual case – for example, other apartment owners might feel disturbed if they were awakened at night by celebrating holidaymakers or rolling suitcases in the staircase. However, such a redistribution requires the consent of all other owners.

In another judgment (Ref .: 5 Whether 59 / 14h), the OGH confirmed this attitude. Anyone who wants to rent their apartment to tourists must apply for a change of residence. The neighbors of a housekeeper who had rented her apartment several times for periods of two to 30 days to tourists were accused. The high frequency of a house by constantly changing persons could lead to the “protective interests” of other apartment owners being impaired. The judges condemned the owner to refrain from letting her property in the future because it was not dedicated to tourism.

Property buying advice:  Remember your holiday property must have a second home designation. It is best to verify this at the purchase stage so that you do not get into trouble with the authorities for holiday renting an apartment that has no designation to do so! If it is a main residence, you are not allowed to rent for holidays, only for long term rentals, ie: up to 3 years.

There is also the option of buying investment apartments that are already rented long term. This has the advantage of a guaranteed income over the year and is a great way to invest money when interest rates in the UK are Low.  We at Amazing Austria are here to help you as much as possible to find a property in Austria, suited to your criteria and budget and also with renting the property if you do not want to do this yourself. We can advise on which properties are suitable for rental and which are designated as main residence (this means you can only rent long term)

For those interested to do it all themselves, there are many holiday renting websites and we would recommend that you use one of these.  They supply literally thousands of enquiries in a year, but remember there is lots of work involved to successfully keep your holiday apartment filled with paying guests and not friends on a freebie!

Property buying advice: Remember you will need to pay tax on any profits, this would normally be in your country of residence. So in the case of a UK buyer, any tax on profit would need to be paid to your local UK tax office at the end of the tax year.  And if you do not have your own accountant, the tax office can be very helpful with guidance on what can be tax deductable etc.

Questions about the purchase of property

Our Property Buying Advice:  In Austria, purchasing of property is subject to the property transaction laws of the respective federal provinces.

This means that different provisions apply in each province for the purchase of property. Many provinces require an approval or evaluation process for real estate purchases only in special “reserved communities,” while other provinces stipulate a managed official process for every acquisition of title.

The buyer’s EU country of origin does not matter here: EU citizens can therefore purchase real estate under the same conditions as Austrian citizens.

However, in most provinces, anyone intending to register only a second residence in a community is restricted only to the areas permitted for this. The regional zoning plans regulate what may be used as a vacation residence and what may not.

Property buying advice: In general, the regulations on second residences are stricter in the western parts of Austria than in the eastern parts. For buyers from overseas countries, it is still possible for a non EU citizen to buy and invest in Austria. What happens is when a property has an offer from an overseas buyer…it must be advertised in the local paper for 28 days.

During this time, if a citizen of the EU wants to buy it, then they can as long as they can pay the offer price or the requested price. If you have a specific question please email us.

What if I need any documents translated?

Our Property Buying Advice: Most Notaries are able to provide contracts in both languages but if there are documents you need translated, then we can help. We have a registered Translator on our team of experts.

Mag. Josef Jäger, he is able to supply:

Certified translations of Notarial deeds, contracts (e.g. when purchasing property, establishing a company, etc.), certified translation of personal documents. Interpreters services at courts of law, Notaries offices, law firms, etc. Email us for details.

Although Austria is a safe place to invest, you should find out exactly what is involved for any particular purchase before entering into any contracts. Our associates in Austria will help you as much as possible if you have questions about an Austrian property, or if they do not have all the answers they will find out for you. So all there is left to say is….Happy House Hunting!

We do our best to keep all information updated, but this article is intended for general information purposes only as laws and regulations can change. These guidelines are meant for guidance only and describe straightforward purchasing. Property Buying Advice: This information is not meant to replace proper legal advice, which we always advise that you take before the purchase of a property.

You will find at the bottom of the page a link to get information on Exchange rates and transferring funds overseas for property purchase. Property Buying Advice: You can open a currency trading account…it is FREE! It is just like having a second bank account. Also you can forward buy your currency at the rate of the day and as long as you pay for the currency within 5 days they will hold the rate for you.

What about currency exchange and transferring money to Austria?

If you are buying a property abroad, emigrating, or transferring money overseas you will have to make your payment in the currency of that country.

Property Buying Advice: Given the sums of money involved in such a transaction and the associated additional costs, you will no doubt want to save money wherever possible. If transferring sums over a period of time, you will also want to ensure that the cost of the funds does not increase due to an adverse exchange rate movement.

The majority of people still approach their high street bank for their foreign currency requirements. However, a foreign exchange specialist, such as our colleagues at Moneycorp and Foremost currency, are more likely to secure you a better deal on your currency requirements..

Click to use our Currency Convertor.


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