International Real Estate: House Hunting in … Germany


Below the ground floor, on the basement level, is an indoor pool and sauna. A space off the pool area with a bar and a fireplace is described as a party room; it has access to a small outdoor terrace. The house also has an attic and a four-car garage.

This property is in the state of Lower Saxony, which is popular with hikers and cyclists. Gross Denkte is a village of about 1,800 people with a market, a gas station and a pharmacy, Mr. von Stosch-Diebitsch said. There are schools and restaurants about three miles away, in the town of Wolfenbüttel, known for its timber homes and a castle dating to the 13th century. The nearest international airport is in Hanover, about an hour’s drive.


The largest price increases in Germany have historically been in big cities like Berlin, Munich and Hamburg, according to government data. But since 2012, home prices across the country have increased by more than 30 percent, according to an index tracked by the Association of German Pfandbrief Banks. In the third quarter of 2017, the index price for residential property was up 7.8 percent, compared with the same period a year earlier, the report said.

Homeownership has traditionally been less common in Germany than in other European Union countries, agents said, and many buyers are now purchasing a home for the first time, thanks to higher incomes and low interest rates.

There are signs, however, that the real estate market in Germany is starting to slow, said Michael Voigtlander, an analyst with the Cologne Institute for Economic Research. After years of rising prices, he said, “down payments as well as transaction costs” make buying a home impossible for many households.

In Lower Saxony, prices are still increasing, but “on a lower scale” than in other states, he said, and Hanover is “lagging behind other big cities.”

In the Brunswick area, prices also continue to rise, said Anita Gartner, managing partner of Berlin Sotheby’s International Realty. “Although the housing prices aren’t as high as Hamburg or Munich,” she noted, “they have grown almost 10 percent in the last year alone.” Siemens, Volkswagen and other large companies own manufacturing facilities in Brunswick, she said, which helps drive home sales in the area.

The lack of inventory in this part of the country is the biggest problem, Mr. von Stosch-Diebitsch said: “We could sell 10 times more real estate if more properties were available. The new building cannot nearly meet the demand.”


Most buyers are locals moving to a larger home or buying for the first time, agents said, and international buyers are rare.


Purchasing a home in Germany is a “relatively easy process with few hoops to jump through,” Ms. Gartner said. There are no restrictions on foreign buyers. Mortgages are available, but usually require a down payment of 20 to 40 percent, agents said.

A notary certifies the transaction and records it. Many foreign buyers choose to hire a lawyer, but it is not required, agents said.


Official Germany tourism site:

Hanover tourism:

Brunswick information:


German; euro (1 euro = $1.22)


Buyers can expect to pay a transfer tax of 5 percent of the purchase price, as well as 1 to 1.5 percent of the price for the notary fee. Agent fees can add another 5.95 percent.

The annual tax on this property is about 2,300 euros (or $2,800), Mr. von Stosch-Diebitsch said.


Rainer von Stosch-Diebitsch, Engel & Voelkers Braunschweig, 011-49-531-21369-00;

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