A while ago we had a moan about how much we hated selling our house in the UK and why we wish we’d not used an estate agent to sell our house.
Well, I can now announce that our estate agent experiences in Berlin have by far surpassed the ones in the UK – and not in a good way.
In Berlin, you’re basically screwed. There aren’t enough properties and prices seem to be rising rapidly. Another problem if you’re trying to buy somewhere for you to live is that there are lot of rental properties.
Finding a property in the first place.
Tenants in Germany have a lot of rights which is obviously great if you’re renting but less great if you’re looking for somewhere to live yourself.
If there’s a tenant in an apartment you’re trying to buy to move into yourself you obviously have to give them notice. The only reason you could ever do that is because you want to move in yourself. Fair enough, right? Well, kind of as in most cases you have to give the tenant 10 years notice!
(It’s slightly more complicated but that’s basically what it comes down to.)
Even getting a viewing can sometimes be tough. There are almost never photos on the internet (after all who would share pictures of their home on the world wide web for everyone to see) and you’ll usually find yourself in a block viewing with loads of other people.
One apartment we tried to view was amazing (on paper at least). It was even larger than ours, in a slightly better location than ours and cheaper than ours. But after 5 months of trying to even get a viewing, we gave up. The tenant living there would only allow one viewing a month. And when I say one, I don’t mean one day, I really do mean one!
Another property we viewed in an old bakery was in need of a complete renovation. We were interested and the estate agent promised to send us over drawings and studies that had already been carried out. If you’re going to buy a wreck you’re going to want to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into and knowing exactly what parts of the building were included with the sale also seemed like a good idea. If you’ve not already guessed, we never got to sent over any other information.
We also viewed an apartment in this amazing building.
As spectacular as the outside of the building is, the apartment itself was a bit meh. It still had some great features but the location wasn’t ideal, it had a weird layout and needed quite a lot of work even though the price it was on the market for was what you’d expect to pay for a finished apartment (in our opinion).
Having said that, it would have still been an interesting project and we were interested. We asked the estate agent a load of questions but he couldn’t answer any of them and when he then asked us to put in an offer he actually told us not to be cheeky with a low offer – even before we mentioned any numbers.
Needless to say, we weren’t too bothered after that!
You have to sign a reservation to secure a property in Berlin and if you really want to make sure you get your new home you have to sign it as quickly as possible. We usually got it shoved in our faces at the first viewing.
The reservation is valid for 2 weeks and it costs money. A lot of money. In our case, it was over 4000€ which we would have lost if we’d had to pull out of buying the apartment for any reason.
The big problem is that at this point you don’t even know if the bank will give you any money as they only lend property specific. Basically, it’s a huge risk. Do you wait till you’ve got the okay from the bank before signing the reservation or risk someone else coming along and snapping up the apartment?
I should point out that the reservation fee is deducted from your final estate agent bill if everything goes though. And yes, I just said deducted as it get’s worse…
Our estate agent was definitely one of the better ones we encountered. He seemed nice and he was helpful.
There’s a huge but though…
In Germany, the buyer pays the estate agent fees. Now if you’re thinking that’s unfair, wrong, mean and just plain stupid. Well, join the club but it still get’s even worse.
The amount you pay is extortionate. Think I’m exaggerating?
We’ll, we paid a whopping 40000€ for our estate agent. And before you ask, no I’ve not slipped and accidentally added a zero. To say that it was painful, eye-wateringly expensive and felt like a complete rip off would be the understatement of the century.
I guess that’s part of the reason that people rarely move here in Germany.
Okay, so I know this is going to sound really petty but given that we’ve just spent way, way more money on our estate agent than anything else ever in our lives (other than our house and apartment) I just can’t help feeling like there should have been more.
A bottle of something sparkly or some flowers or even just a card (which I even got when I purchased my first car for a lot less money than our estate agent cost) just something to congratulate us!
Yes, I’m being picky but if you’d just spent over 40k on an estate agent you might be, too!
There you have it. Next time you moan about your estate agent just remember it could be worse! It’s also not all bad – we’re living in our dream home in a fab city and hopefully won’t have to pay for any more estate agents for a long time!
What’s the buying process like where you live? Has anyone ever had a good estate agent experience? To be fair, ours wasn’t bad – just very expensive! Am I the only one that finds it really weird that the buyer has to pay the fees of someone he’s not even commissioned?