We bought a house!

Why buying a house?

We love Cologne! We live in a nice part of Cologne next to a park, close to the Zoo, not far to the city centre and to a public swimming pool. The Kindergarten is just opposite of our house and I can go to work by train as the main station is not too far away. It sounds like the perfect place to live, but the flat has not enough space for the four of us. It started when we had to give up the office room to turn it into a children’s room. We are happy to have two kids and we managed to integrate the office into the living room by using intelligently designed furniture. Now as both kids get older the want to have more space and maybe some garden arises. So we decided that we wanted to by a house.

Buying a house

Buying a house in Germany and especially in the greater areas of big cities is a rather tiresome task. We searched nearly 2 years until we found a house that was almost the one we wanted.

How to find a house in Germany?

Yes I said almost, because one of the first opinions that we had to through over board was the though of finding our dream house. My wife and I split the search area in two, as it was too hard to search both areas alone. Later I’ll explain why.

My wife was responsible to search in the area of Bad Honnef near Bonn and myself for the southern part of Cologne. At that time I was still convinced that I want to stay in Cologne with our family so I took that part of the searching Job.

So what we did and that worked really well for us was, that we searched in the German web-based housing platforms like www.immobilienscout24.de or www.immowelt.de.

Most of the houses that are for sale have several ways of contacting the agent or the seller. You can use all of them, but what I recommend is to call. Email and web-based contacts are simply to slow. If you found a really nice house, then you are probably not the only one interested. So to be fast, look into the platform once a day and contact then agent by phone. Be ready to directly make an appointment to look at the house. Sometimes there is only one date where all interested people can visit and you will have to make time to use that spot. At the moment (2016) it is a seller market. Take it or leave it. Even bad houses somehow find a person who will buy it.
In the end we found a house in Bad Honnef that was most convenient for us as the prices for the house size that we wanted was simply too expensive for us in Cologne or that houses were in such bad shape or the place was not convenient enough.

How to buy a house in Germany?

After finding the house we wanted to buy we had some small negotiations with the seller and he fortunately agreed to give us the house a bit cheaper than he originally asked for. Before that we also went though the house with an expert to see whether there was anything wrong with the construction of the house.
The house was marketed by an agent and so we had to pay around 3.5 % of the house price as a fee for the agent. What we also had to pay were the taxes for buying a house, which are 6.5 % in this part of the country.
In Germany the buyer decides the solicitor who does the contract and so we chose one in Bad Honnef. After reviewing the contract from both parties we met with the sellers at the solicitors place and signed the contract.
There are some formalities like some background checks on the house that we had to pay for. Finally also the solicitor wanted 1.5% of the selling price. Basically we had to calculate 13% on top of the buying price to cover all the costs.

Even though it was a very exiting and stressful time we are now happy to have signed the contract.

Now we will start renovating the house the way we like it starting April 2017. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

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