We have listened to many new owners questions and also some of the helpful tip s supplied by our property owners. We add them to our website, so that anyone considering buying can be one jump ahead when it comes to being ready to rent or just enjoy your new purchase in Austria. If you have a particular query then please ask…email us Questions – We will answer it and also add it to this page as a guide to other owners and potential buyers. All answers are for information and guidance only… as rules and regulations change, we advise that you check to ensure accuracy.
A – one of our retired owners answers : If you simply come to retire and live off your pension, then no problem, the British system pays for your healthcare also….but if you take up any work for which you are paid or become self employed, then the European rule book kicks in and you have to contribute to the Austrian healthcare system and you get taxed on your pension at the rate of 5.1% Tip: Be aware that tax laws can change.
A – In Austria, purchasing of real estate 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 real estate. 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.
Tip: The buyers’ EU country of origin does not matter here: EU citizens can therefore purchase real estate under the same conditions as Austrian citizens. That also means that they must adhere to the same regulations as an Austrian buyer. If there are restrictions on a property’s use, then the buyer must be aware they must keep to the regulations. This mainly applies to property designated as main residence which cannot be let out as holiday property.
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. In general, the regulations on second residences are stricter in the western parts of Austria than in the eastern parts.
A – Yes, we have our own in-house Interior Designer. She can not only advise on modernising, but also do all the shopping and ordering for you. This saves so much time, for owners, and means they do not need to fly out and spend a week or so, shopping!.
She helps many clients bring their old apartments up to modern standards now demanded by Holiday makers. Also, she can manage the rentals of your apartment, should you not wish to do this yourself.
A – Not unless you are bringing your own furniture, it is not worth the hassle. It is just as cheap, if not cheaper, to buy furniture and furnishings in Austria.
Tip: There are department stores such as Kika, Leiner and Lutz. These are are large stores along the lines of Debenhams..but without the ladies clothes!! They are situated in all the major towns and in the holiday areas..Salzburg…Zell am see..Innsbruck…Graz, Vienna, etc.
We bought a few sofabeds for the apartment for 179 Euro each in a recent Sale!! The stores have sales quite often…just as in the UK.
There is also a chain called Mobilix. These stores tend to be at the cheaper end of the scale and have some very good prices. They do not have the fancy room layouts of the other stores and the style is more warehouse, but if it is cheap furniture you are looking for, then they are worth a visit.
Tip: You will be pleased to know that all the stores lend you a Van for free, to transport your DIY furniture. The only thing you have to pay for is the insurance and currently this is about 15.90 Euro for the day.
And…if you can’t live without your IKEA store, you will be pleased to know that there are large branches at Salzburg, Vienna, Innsbruck, Linz.& Graz.
A – Yes. In your betriebkosten (the monthly management fees) you will be covered for any damage to the building but not any of the contents. It is best to have your own insurance to cover this and also for ‘third party liability’ Be careful though..you can get cheap insurance but that is what it is!! We have our own mortgage and insurance advisor so can help.
Tip: You need to have an insurance that covers ‘new for old’ otherwise you will end up footing the bill yourself when the insurance company offer you a pittance for your damage claim!! A good insurance should cost about 15 Euros per month for contents on a one bedroom apartment.
I am selling a property in Tirol and buying a larger property in the same area. Can you offer any tax advice or tell me where I can obtain advice, particularly capital gains tax on the profit? It has been suggested that expenses can be written off against the profit but clear advice is difficult to find. I am secondary resident and my partner is main resident.
A – Well from some past experiences…as your partner is main resident at the house, she would pay no capital gains, but as you are secondary resident, you would need to pay capital gains on your half of any profit??
Tip: Capital gains is at this time 30% Best to speak with your local Notar, as they are now responsible to the Tax offices for payment of the tax when a sale is made.
A – NO! Be careful of this. The system here is that you take insurance and the contract lasts for up to 10 years. What you have to be carful about is that…when you buy a house, the insurance goes with it!! But this might not suit you or your insurance needs. You have 28 days after completion of your purchase to cancel the old existing insurance and find your own.
You can, of course, just leave it with the old insurers. Tip: So, remember to mention this point to the Notary if you want to change. We are happy to point people in the right direction to get insurance quotes.
A – Yes.. I guess the UK market is spoiled when it comes to cheap electrical goods. But the prices are not so bad. I myself bought a 15″ flat screen TV, with integrated DVD player for 279 Euros.
Tip: There is the ‘Media Markt ‘chain of stores across Austria. They are a bit like a Comet Store in the UK and have some good very prices. But don’t forget to look at what the department stores have on offer..they have very good specials every now and again.
A – Well, you are certainly entitled to drive to Austria and stay with your car for up to 3 months…this is because your own UK insurance entitles you to 90 days abroad.
There are problems involved with UK registered cars, as you need to keep it MOT’d and insured. This you would have to do in the UK, so it is ok if you are constantly driving back and forth between the countries. You can arrange for this between trips but realistically it is easier to buy an Austrian vehicle. Tip: Also, if you buy a property you effectively have a residency in Austria and you should, therefore, be driving an Austrian registered vehicle.
Be prepared for higher prices!! Many cars that you would not pay a few thousand Euros for in the UK,…sell for up to 5,000 euros!! There is a different criteria here in Austria. Also, they have what is called a NOVA tax…this is a percentage of the car value and can vary from 8 – 18%.
They simply have a car and it is based on the mileage or kilometres on the clock! No funny registration plates, that only the owner understands!!! Insurance for an Austrian car is higher than the Uk as it also includes an amount for the local road tax and also a tax on the Horse power of the car..the higher the power the higher the tax!!. Typically you can pay from 70 euro per month for a small car and 170 euro for a large powerful car.
A – A little, but it is simply more complex. You can buy a car privately or with a Car dealer…the Dealer must by law give you 12 months guarantee..this does not cover everything but gives a good sense of security.
Once you have decided to buy a car, this is where the hard work starts!! In Austria it is the person who is registered and gets a set of car number plates..once you have these, you can simply transfer them to yout next car…but for the first it is difficult, particularly if trying to buy private. To get the plates you need a purchase contract from the seller plus the vehicle documents….well until you hand over cash, you are not going to get these!! But then you cannot drive the car..this is because the seller must de-register the car from his name first! Then you have to go with the documents to the local register for the car and make the application. Then when you get your own plates you can go back and pick up the car…but make sure you get your insurance sorted first!!
A – The going rate is about 40 – 50 Euro per hour for an Austrian tradesman. They are very meticulous and you will get a very good job for your money. You can find cheaper but you get what you pay for!! Tip: Be aware that many of the new states that have joined the EU have people working in Austria..you can get a Romanian painter or Hungarian plumber on the cheap and pay cash, no questions asked….but remember…you have no come back.
Recently. a few Uk builders have settled in Austria, so I guess that soon there will be the option to use an English builder.
A – Yes. There are quite a few large DIY stores. They are called ‘Bau Haus’ and ‘Bau Max’. Bau is the Austrian word for ‘Build’ – they sell absolutely everything that a DIY enthusiast could ask for! From a few screws & nails to complete bathroom & plumbing fittings. They tend to be situated in the larger towns.
Tip: But you do not need to make a trip to the city all the time as there are the Lagerhaus chain of stores. These are situated in or just outside almost every village in Austria. They tend to be geared more to the Farmer but they carry a large range of items from electrical fittings to DIY tools and Garden machinery…in fact almost everything you might need to fix a problem around the house/apartment.
A – As with any fresh water areas there are rules. Just as you have in the UK..for example..I think in the lake district you cannot have a motor powered boat. Lots of boat owners in Austria have electric outboard motors. No fuel powered boats are allowed.
Tip: Each Gemeinde(council) has it’s rules and it is always best to check before you bring a boat. In many cases the restriction is more to do with available moorings!!
A – If you are going to work as a freelance, self employed person from home, this is no problem…but again just as in the UK, you cannot set up a Haulage Business with lots of trucks or a manufacturing business with lots of noisy machinery. Tip: You are fine in your own house, but if you own an apartment, it is best to check with the house management in case you end up breaking the house rules and upsetting all your neighbours! Be aware to get advice for tax liabilities, best to speak with an accountant (Steuerberater)…you can guarantee that neighbours would report any business ventures.
A – Well, you have to pay tax somewhere in the EU and if you are domicile in the UK, then all your earnings worldwide would be taxed in the UK, when you declare them. If you have Austria residence then you would be liable for tax locally. You need to be careful as the tax office in Austria is not as helpful as in the UK..you only have to look at their name ‘SteuerPolizei…Tax Police!!! And they act like Police!! Tip: Everyone’s tax situation is different and we would advise that you discuss this with an Austrian Accountant. We can point you in the direction of an accountant if you have a personal tax query.
A – Austrian mortgages are cheap and as of Jan 2016, the interest rate for mortgages is from 1.95 – 2.25%.. so it can make sense to keep your cash on deposit in a high interest account and pay towards an Austrian mortgage with the interest gained. Or, if you are renting your apartment for holidays, then rental income would cover a mortgage.
There are also some developments with guaranteed rental income should you just wish to invest.
A – Well it is always nice to be able to converse with people in their own language, but you do not need to worry too much as English is the common denominator for all of Europe. It is the language of the Airline industry, the Financial markets, the computer industry, Tourism etc. Just be pleased that you can speak it!! When you become an Austria property owner..it will come to you naturally to start learning and speaking the German language as you go shopping and mix with the Austrian people.
A – The monthly costs vary depending on what services and facilities are available in the apartment building. For example, some buildings have a lift and this makes it a little more expensive.
Then you can find that apartment owners in a building have voted to have new windows all round. If there is not enough money in the Building fund, this cost is normally met by borrowing the money from the bank and of course, the loan payments must be met, so you can find that the monthly management cost can be more over the period of the loan, then it reduces after the loan is paid off. So you have nice new windows for a few euros extra each month.
There is also different forms of heating in buildings. In many holiday apartment buildings, the heating is night storage, so that you only switch it on when you need to. Then you have buildings where the heating is from a central unit in the basement. This means the building is heated all year round and although this can be a little more expensive than the night storage, it makes for more comfort.
In buildings with the night storage heating, there are more problems with damp, as the landings are not heated. Also you can arrive to find your apartment is showing signs of damp as it is not heated or aired.
A – There are some variations, but generally, they include:
Building insurance (not the contents of your apartment)
Some include the hot water supplied & also heating. This can cause a large variation with houses that do not offer heating.
Services of a House Manager; to keep the building clean and in a state of good repair.
Putting out the refuge/waste each week
Snow clearing in Winter
Grass cutting in Spring and Summer
There is an Owners meeting with the management company each year, at which you can contribute your ideas of what you might like to have done to the building for the coming year. Many people forget that as an owner, they own part of a building in conjunction with other owners and it is up to all owners to get together to discuss looking after their Building!!
A – Yes, most villages have a re-cycling Hof. This is where you can take your old furniture or items for re-cycling. But be aware, that although the first load is free, if you turn up again the same day with more loads, they will charge you. It is normally charged by the weight, per kilo of rubbish to get rid of for all extra loads.
For example a few loads of old furniture, sofas, beds etc could cost about 65 euros. Still cheap and you are saving the planet!! If you are doing any building or renovation work, the builder will take the rubbish away for you, but it will cost even more…this is because a builder has a commercial license to dispose of rubble etc, and it is expensive! Always ask what it is going to cost you!!
A – Yes. you need to go to the local Gemeinde and get a Kurtax book. This is an NCR duplicate pad, which your rental guests must complete to pay their tourist tax. The book costs about 4 euros. The tourist tax at the moment is approx 1.15 to 1.40 euros per night per person for adults over 15 years of age. As of 2012, it is now possible to register your guests on line.
Be aware that some apartments do not have a second home designation and you cannot rent them for holidays.. only longer term. It is best to check this with the Notar during the purchase process and he can also check any other rules with the management company. You should request a copy of the house rules. Ask for one in English.
A – Yes. this is very much the case. All the high street UK Banks have their own charges which can be quite expensive. It is best to use a specialist currency supplier.
You can save literally thousands of £’s, depending on how much your purchase is of course. You can open a currency account (it is free!!) and with it you can buy all currencies of the world. You simply transfer sterling from your normal bank account into your currency account.
So it is not only useful for your property purchase but for your holidays to other countries. For complete details and a free currency account, click on this link
A – No not really, you can either contact Austria Telekom by phone or email. They will send you the forms necessary to open an account and to make your request for a phone line to be installed. Although you can apply on line via their website. The service is provided by Telekom Austria..which has rebranded itself as A1…the site is in German but they will answer any queries or requests in English. They are pretty much on a par with BT, but maybe a bit faster!! You can fill in all the forms and normally it is about 5 working days for them to contact you and let you know when the phone will be installed. They do not provide a handset and you need to order this separately or buy one at a local shop.
Also when you place an order you also sign to have a direct debit for the payment each Quarter. You can also ask for an internet connection at the same time. There are various packages on offer for phone and internet and it is no more expensive than in the UK.
There are also plans like ‘Friends and Family’ where you have discounted phone calls, and also cheap calls to other countries…ie..the UK.
A – Normally, it takes up to 48 hours to get a letter back to the UK..that is better than second class UK post and probably on a par with First class post!!
A -Well for a start, the minimum contractual rental term in Austria is 3 years! Many owners are surprised by this but it does make for a stable village society if tenants can stay for more than 6 months at a time. But not every landlord wants to tie their property up for 3 years. Tenants have the right to stay for 3 years but can leave at any time after the first year, as long as they give one month’s notice. This is also to help the work force, when they get offered a new job in a different part of Austria. This can happen quite a lot as Austria is based on Tourism jobs.
On the plus side, Owners have an income for 3 years plus the tenant pays all service bills. The tenant must stay for the first year but then they can give 3 months notice to move. You as the landlord must keep to the 3 years.
A – That is quite a tall order. To start with, we would suggest that you have an Architect to oversee the work and act as site manager. They know the rules and have direct contact with the local Gemeinde to ensure you do not have problems. They also know the local builders and can recommend who to use. An Architect will normally charge 10% of the work cost as his fee to manage any renovation..it is money well spent as he can pay for him/herself with the discounts they can get out of builders and tradesmen.
Tip: If you decide to do it yourself, then go to the local Gemeinde and speak with them. They will advise and might even be able to put you in touch with reputable Builders.
A – Austria has what is called a speculation tax. It is there to try and stabilize the property market. Unlike the UK, where you can buy a an old property, renovate and sell on in a few months. The tax you pay is simply down to your tax banding.
UPDATE: on 1st April 2012, the government brought in a new regulation that when a property is sold the Notar must deduct 25% of the profit on a sale and pay it to the local tax office. This is applicable to Austrian citizens or residents. If you are an EU member citizen, then you are advised that you must declare the profit in your own country of residence…but the Austrian tax office is being very strict about this tax. They now want it deducted and you claim back against your UK tax, through the double taxation scheme. As of 1st Jan 2016 the tax was increased to 30%
A – Well… just as in the UK, there are popular tourist areas and not so popular tourist areas. Think about the West Country which is a great holiday region. The prices can be quite high compared to the depths of Wales. Many clients have viewed properties in the Karnten area of Austria, where the prices are very cheap but there is not so much tourist trade as near to the Salzburg or popular well known ski areas. Quite simply, you get what you pay for!! Tip: Although you pay more in the popular tourist areas, you also make more profit!! Very important if paying a mortgage.
A – Healthcare in Austria must be some of the best in Europe. You as a European citizen are entitled to the same care as an Austrian. You should have your UK travel medical card. This is now a plastic credit card style. It can be used in any other European country. If you become an Austrian resident then you would apply for the Austrian Ecard.
Tip: There tends to be a tiered system, starting with the local GP. He or she would check you and then if needed make an appointment for whatever specialist was needed. Unlike the UK, there are many specialists…from the back to legs to muscles etc, you name it and there is probably a specialist for it!
A. The regulations in Tirol can be stricter than other regions and permission can be individual to a particular council. But as a general rule, you need to make sure the house fits in with what is in the surrounding area and has a residency status suitable for the usage.
The main problem for permission is the type of permission…it could be that the local council would only grant you main residence status for a new build. If you were intending it for a holiday home then it would not be possible. Most councils have areas of their villages and towns were they permit secondary residence. It is often a case of finding a plot of land and then speak with the local council to see what is possible? Tip: Most councils are very helpful and unlike the UK, they are happy to advise at no cost what would be possible.
A. This is true, all Austrian lakes do their utmost to keep the water quality at a level where you can swim and also swallow the water with no concerns….for this reason, fuel powered engines are not allowed, except in exceptional cases and then it has to be water turbo jet, so no fuel or exhaust gets into the lake. Most people here buy Electro boats or an electro outboard motor. And…. they are not the slow plodding little boats you would think of: try these links and you will see what we mean.
A.This is possible, but there are more difficult rules for Non European Citizens and the process takes longer. This applies whether you are from Russia, India, China, USA, Canada…in fact any country that is not European.
Tip: The rules are that all property in Austria must first be offered to European citizens. The process that must be followed is that the property must be advertised in the local newspaper for 28 days to state that the property is offered for sale and any European citizen can apply to make an offer for this property. After this time if no other European buyer is interested, then the property can be sold to the Non European buyer.
The advert must be placed by the local registration authority and this can take time. Also, they charge for this process and it can be in the region of 2-3,000 Euros. You should normally allow up to 6 months for a Non European buyer to get the permission and have the property registered in their name.
A. This should be done as soon as possible after the property is registered in your name. It is a simple process and it means a visit to the local council office, to inform them that you are the new owner. They will ask if it is to be a holiday home or a main residence. ie..if you are going to live in Austria. The local tax is charged each year in arrears..either as a holiday home or a main residence. Holiday home status is cheaper as you are taxed based on holiday usage for the year. Normally, you would be allowed up to 180 days holiday use for a certain amount of local tax.
Tip: For main residence status you need to complete more forms about yourself and take these with a few passport size photos to the area main Police Station.
A. This depends on the water and waste usage. In Austria local tax is charged by the amount of water used and the waste water. From this the council can work out the sewage use also. It is quite a fair system, because if you are a single person living alone, then your tax would be low and if you were a large family then you would pay more based on the water usage.
A. This depends if you signed a written offer, then you are legally bound under Austrian law to complete the purchase. If you cannot complete the purchase, then you would be liable for all the costs involved in the sale/purchase.
This would mean you would have to pay the Legal costs for the lawyer/Notar, around 2% of sale price, plus the Estate agent fees for both sides. This means your own agent and the sellers agent. This could amount to 6% of the sale price + Vat.
Tip: If you do not have your finances in place, it is best not to make an offer.
A. This depends on the local Gemeinde and their attitudes towards a project. If it is designated as a farm, then you would need to be a farmer to buy it!!
If not designated, you need to check what the residency status is. Many Gemeinde have main residence only for certain areas of villages etc. This would mean that you need to live there full time and move your tax domicile to Austria.
Tip: For secondary residence, a property would have had to be listed in the Grundbuch as a main and secondary residence. Then you could use it for holidays but not necessarily to commercially rent the property…this would need to be checked with the local Gemeinde.
If you need a mortgage to buy and renovate, then it is possible to get a Bauspar mortgage..this is when the bank lend you the amount of money it will take to purchase and also renovate. The invoices from builders are given to the Bank and they pay them.
Tip: With old properties you need to also check what rights remain with previous owners…in some cases, owners want to sell but retain part of a property in perpetuity..this can cause mortgage and registration problems.
A– If the property also has a second home designation and near to ski, the Estate agent would have allowed a factor in this when pricing. But a bank is not interested in that side. Because of the new Basel 111 agreement on Banking practice and funds retention, they have to be more strict with what they can lend and against what properties.
Tip: It does not help you, but the bank would have valued the property on the lowest price, and also the possible local demand. So that, should borrower not pay the mortgage they can make a quick forced sale at Auction!! Their interest being to get back the amount they lent, and not what a property can be marketed at. They would also have taken into account the local demand in the area, rather than holiday home purposes.
Tip: Perhaps use the equity in your home property to raise some of the finance in the UK? Then perhaps take the smaller Austrian mortgage on offer?
A. – Tip: Well unlike the UK, when you go to buy a car, the number plate is registered in the owner name. This makes it difficult to pick up a secondhand car unless you also have your own number plates…but obviously very few foreign owners do!
And, you cannot get plates until you buy a car and get the registration document…so a bit of a catch 22 situation!
Tip: We would recommend that you buy from a garage in the first place, they can organise the plates for you, then when these are ready..normally a few days, you can pick up your car. The plates are specific to you and you remove them to put on your next car. Obviously, you must inform the insurance company and also de-register the car at the Bezirkshaupmanschaft.