Property in Austria/Germany

Discussion in 'Finance, Property, Law' started by Mr_Creosote, Nov 27, 2007.

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  1. Just wondering if anyone can help here at all. Am fed up of our Bliarite/Brownite nanny state and am considering upping sticks lock stock and barrel to either Austria or Germany. What I am thinking of is buying a something like a small to medium sized Bed & Breakfast or Guest House to run as a business.

    What I would like to know is, have any ARRSErs gone and done what I am thinking of doing? If so, could they advise on the pitfalls? Who would lend for a mortgage etc? Is ti better to approach a Austrian/German bank for a mortgage or a UK Bank like Barclays or RBS, for example? Are the legal ins and outs a pain in the you know what or relatively easy?

    For example, in Austria, I know about having to put a 10% deposit down in escrow once a verbal bid has been accepted and I am already aware of the 10 year rule on Capital Gains in Austria. But is there anything else you think I should know about?

    Any information, however trivial BUT SENSIBLE, would be gratefully accepted.
  2. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    I have previously made property dealings in Germany and have had friends who are self employed/small business owner in the consultancy field - both are not for the faint hearted!
    All I have heard second hand regarding Austria is that prices are generally higher - especially in nice B & B type areas - and that it is becoming unpopular for foreigners (normally Germans or Swiss) to buy as it is killing many small villages with too high a % of holiday homes.

    Nothing is cheap anywhere nice in Germany, and you are into Euro 7 figures for a good B & B sized place somewhere like the Black Forest.
    In Germany the land value increases, while the property value decreases (eg. its an old house getting worn out - German logic). As we are talking +/- 2% max here don't get excited....
    Figure on about 10% in fees and taxes which is a total write off, and probably zero increase in property value over 10 years, if you are lucky - so make sure you have the readies and a decent business plan.

    If you have any more specific info needs PM me.
  3. Thanks very much for that Alsacien. Appreciated.

    We would be talking total relocation here. I have had a look, primarily at Austria, and, to be honest, think the prices are cheaper than the UK on the whole. Would not be looking for a holiday home but somewhere to lay down roots and make a real go of it. Hence why I asked about a B&B/Gasthaus business.

    For example, I have found a 7 bedroomed Gasthaus, by one of the many lakes and a kick in the arse from 2 large towns, and near to airports, autobahns and main roads. Comes complete with Kegelbahn, in Carinthia, for EUR160000.

    Fair enough, it needs redecoration, but EUR160000? Bloody hell!!!! You'd be lucky to find anything remotely like that for less than £250000 here in the UK.

    It's really has got me thinking what the hell am I still doing in the UK when I could be getting good summers and good winters EVERY year in Austria.

    Also thought about maybe the Harz Mountains but couldn't find much there. Any ideas anyone?
  4. Check your PM's Mr. 'C'
  5. I’ve never considered anything like that, but as an alternative take on the idea, perhaps you’ll find the following useful:

    A very good mucker of mine (Swiss IT wallah spliced with a Kraut biddy) was so frustrated at the outsourcing of IT projects to India, and the consequent balls-ups, that he decided to go into the B & B trade. As far as he could see, the main problem was that a lot of it was very seasonal, so he and his wife eventually bought a 12-room property in Geltow, which is about six clicks south-west of Potsdam as the cry flows, and directly on Route 1 into the place. They paid DM 350K for the place (in 1999) and spent another DM 150K on improvements and repairs.

    The advantages of the location are that it’s smack dab in the middle of the Kraut “lake district”. In addition, Potsdam is the seat of the Brandenburg Federal State gobment. The result is that the place has been fully booked for the last EIGHT years. On the one hand he has the holidaying crowd during the season, and on the other, he has year-round guests attending regular local gobment meetings, conferences etc in Potsdam, but who don’t want to pay the inflated hotel prices there, while still having easy access to Potsdam itself (how long does it take to drive six clicks on an arrow-straight federal highway?).

    I’m just giving this as an example, but maybe it’s worthwhile to go at the whole thing with the inclusion of a lot more aspects, rather than primarily seeing it as just a way to “get away from it all”. By the way, you really have to work hard too, but I imagine you know that anyway.

    Best of luck!

  6. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Kärnten is on Slovenian border...
    Location, location etc - but for a business it is critical, its like saying UK is expensive - but you could buy a great pile of masonary in Pontycymmer for 110k GBP....
    You are going to either have to speculate to acumulate - gamble, and gamble big - or go for the quality of life option and live off savings for everything bar essentials.

    You need to avoid makler in Germany - agents who just take a fee for bugger all - which is hard if you are not in situ. You really want an established business with retirement forcing a sale for example.

    Where I live part time in Alsace/Lorraine area you can get a Chateau for 500k in good condition - but you are not going to drive past it, and you cannot fly there easily....

    There are gaps and deals to be made in Europe, but it takes a bit of savvy and understanding of that nations/areas market.

    I own property in 3 countries currently - but figuring the German market was the most difficult experience.

    Best of luck.
  7. This was featured on channel 4's a place in the sun home and away, a couple were deciding whether to buy in either Norfolk or the Austrian alps, check thislink to see the type of properties on offer in austria. Two of them were in use as bed and breakfast, one was in a ski area, they were all less than £180,000.
    Good Luck
  8. Alsacien & Bugsy, cheers again.

    Good points all, especially with regards to geography, having been to Austria a good few times, different areas on different occasions and have a good idea of what I am looking for. It's really a going business concern, in the form of a B&B, that I am after, or even a large house with 2 - 4 apartments to let out.

    Somewhere, that is in a popular area/region, like the Salzkammergut, Salzburgland or the Tyrol, that will keep us going in the summer, as well as the winter, would be perfect. In the summer, getting business in from mountain climbing/hill walker types or your "run of the mill" tourists and, in winter, the skiing crowd. Think skiing is fecking silly myself but I'd be happy to take their dosh. :D

    My problem is the actual buying process - the do's and don'ts so to speak.
  9. Just don't mention the war ...

    I'll get my coat
  10. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    Just spoke to an Austrian colleague from Tirol about this.
    Your areas of choice are good - centre/west of Austria is where its at. Mortgages for a business based on ski tourist trade can be hard to get - less snow year on year. Should not be a problem if you are putting up large % of the cost though.
    Total glut of summer accomodation - don't bank on it. I would add though that if you can get a niche for an odd UK sporting/hobby community and plug it in their rag it may be possible.
    Avoid Maklers and their fees if possible - look for private family sales.
    I assume you speak German, the contracts are "comphrehensive" and normally need to be legally translated for non-native speakers.
    Most folks drive into the alps for skiing - only really the Brits that fly in with decent numbers, so a business plan based on UK trade near a UK connected airport would seem sensible.

    As a sports nut I had thought about this myself, and Austria would be the pick of the alps for me. Quite scary money to take the plunge though - if its cheap there is a reason....
    I think I would want to live in the area working for someone in the tourist trade for a year before committing.
    All taxs/books etc should be checked by your own accountant - this is someone I would be tempted to hire eg a practice with a lawyer, notary, accountant set up tasked with finding a business - dont know if it is possible in Austria, it is in Germany.

    The last 2 years have been rather hard on the tourist trade in Austria; a very poor winter on the back of a mediocre one; and summer floods that ruined the second half of the summer season for many 2 years ago.
    Now could be the time someone is packing it in to retire...?
  11. I bought a house in Germany - Cologne area - normally an expensive area.
    I waited several years cos I lived in a flat at the time in order to get what I wanted.

    I paid just under 100000 but had to renovate it totally - cost about 30000(helped by the fact of east european workers for a month :D ).

    However this was a steal - waited for the right moment when the owner was desperate to sell.
    Its no more difficult than the UK to buy - don't believe the scaremongers/horror stories. BUT you've got to have someone who speaks PERFECT German to avoid pitfalls (my wife in my case!!)
    Also had a German friend who's spent the last 20yrs doing up houses so he helped a lot etc etc.

    Go for it but don't dive in at the first thing you see as per UK really.
  12. Thanks again Alsacien

    I was in Austria, in August, and made a point of speaking to the local tour reps who work for the like of Thomson and Crystal. They all made the points you have about the lack of snow for the past few years and summer availability. A couple of them have married locals and both made the point as well about Maklers. So never fear, forewarned is definitely forearmed.

    The prices of property don't worry me particularly, as the prices, for equivalent property, where I live now are extortionate in my opinion. They're also supposed to be some of the highest and fastest rising in the UK.

    So, looking at prices in Austria, I really do think I may get a good deal more for my money than I will here. Not to mention a better lifestyle in to the bargain. Your mentioning looking for a family/retiring couple looking to sell up so that they can move on is exactly the sort of thing I am hoping for.

    Is your Austrian colleague able to recommend a good Austrian Bank to arrange financial matters through? One with good links to a UK High Street Bank would be preferable. I already have a line in to an British/Austrian Lawyer, who funnily enough used to be an RAOC Staff Clerk, so hopefully no worries there.

    I already have a rough business plan in mind as to what I want to do. And advertising in the hill walking/moutaineering/rock climbing magazines was certainly part of it, amongst other things. I also intend to try and target the 50+ age group as well as Austria does seem to be very popular with them. Needless to say, I intend making another couple of trips to Austria in the New Year to have a good nose about before making any decisions.

    Josey - very kind of you, thanks very much. Not too sure that the Harz is where I really want to be. Beautiful area though it is. Potential just doesn't seem to me to be the same there as in Austria. However, I may go that way for a nosey in the New Year just to satisfy my curiosity.
  13. Alsacien

    Alsacien LE Moderator

    3 banks my colleague would recommend:
  14. As long as you call it "Zum Wilden Hirsch" you'll be fine.