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The 10 biggest pitfalls when buying property

Illegal additions, arguing neighbors, exploding operating costs - where you should look carefully before buying a property and how you can easily avoid possible pitfalls.

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From the balcony of his new house, Mr Mader was able to spit on the neighboring property. Of course he didn't, even if he didn't get along very well with his neighbor because of the loud parties. And somehow the neighbor must have resented him that Mr. Mader liked to end the party mood by calling the police. It was probably no coincidence that the building authorities now visited him. Hadn't he noticed when buying that the balcony protruded a little into the neighboring property? No? Then unfortunately only the expensive partial demolition of the balcony remained. There was nothing to be got from the seller. After all, the warranty had been excluded in the sales contract. And for a precise control of the plans, Mr Mader had really run out of nerves in all the house buying stress. Who thinks of an illegal balcony? “Time and again I see the surprise on people's faces, which things can't go wrong when buying a property. When it comes to cars, you can have a purchase test done at the ÖAMTC, but with the 400,000 euro house you assume that everything will go well, ”observes Günther Nussbaum, building expert and known from the TV series“ Pfusch am Bau ”. Although you cannot have the property checked through quickly in the workshop, you can still carry out a purchase test yourself or together with experts. GEWINN has worked with notaries, lawyers, brokers and construction professionals to filter out the ten most important topics that you should look at before making a purchase. This is time consuming and can be a chore, but it pays off. This is how you elegantly avoid the biggest traps.

Case 1: Visited only once

The description of the apartment in the ad sounded good, the quiet backyard location was confirmed during the inspection on a sunny Friday morning. Ms. B struck immediately. She couldn't have known that the sun didn't make it into the courtyard after 4 p.m. and that it turned into a noisy children's playground every afternoon.

“Visiting a property at one time only is a mistake. Always look at the apartment, house or property in the evening. Then the noise is often completely different and you can quickly tell whether the ceiling and walls are noisy. The incidence of light is also different. Estimate the incidence of light at other times of the year, especially in summer. In summer the apartment may appear bright, but in winter you have the lights on all the time, ”recommends Johannes Kirchner. Under the Immo-Flüsterer brand, he advises people on buying real estate and has visited over 1,000 apartments and houses in his career. He also advises to take a closer look at the neighboring houses: B. a cell phone mast on the opposite roof. "

Visiting becomes more difficult if the property has not yet been built. Anyone who buys off-plan must take a particularly critical look at the property developer’s documents: “The construction and equipment description and the plans are binding. But you can count on beautiful visualizations

do not leave. The images from the prospectus are usually not part of the contract and are therefore not binding, ”says Martin Foerster, attorney at Graf & Pitkowitz.

Trap 2: forget to look at the land register

"Regardless of whether it is a plot of land, an apartment or a house: a clever buyer first looks at the extract from the land register," says Ulrich Voit, notary partner in Vienna-Ottakring. The Austrian land register is kept by the responsible district court and is publicly available to every citizen. To get the excerpt from the land register, which is subject to a fee, you don't have to go to court, you can do this from home with a click of the mouse. Providers such as immocheck.com charge 15 euros for the electronic extract.

Important information about the property can be found in the extract from the land register and many unpleasant surprises can be ruled out immediately. Is the seller really the (sole) owner? Who are - e.g. B. in a block of flats - the other owners? Which plots belong to the property and how big are they? Are easements such as rights of way, rights of first refusal or sales bans entered? Is the property burdened with debts?

The latter can be recognized by the registered liens. Such a lien does not say anything about the current amount of the liabilities. The debt can already be paid off. It is crucial for the potential buyer that the burdens are not automatically deleted in the event of a sale, but are transferred to the new owner. “Usually a careful drafting of the sales contract (notary or lawyer) writes to all creditors and asks how high the outstanding liens are. After that, the seller must either delete the liens or pay the buyer the outstanding amount, ”says Voit.

Attention: The land register does not offer one hundred percent security. "Easements that are not in the land register are dangerous," warns Voit. Here it concerns z. B. rights of way of the neighbors or channels that obviously and tolerated by the seller lead through the property. "Goes z. For example, if your neighbor has been on a beaten path across the property to his house for 30 years, you should be careful. Then it should be noted in the sales contract that one only buys under the condition that this right of way ends. ”In retrospect, the buyer cannot excuse himself from having overlooked the beaten track or the canal. "Record in the purchase contract that the property is free from third-party rights. Then you have at least a right to compensation from the seller, in particularly bad cases a right to reverse the transaction, ”adds Foerster.

Case 3: zoning and development plan not read

The reason for the weekend house has been bought. The unobstructed view of the mountains was the deciding factor for the purchase. It's just unpleasant that the excavators are just opening up on the neighboring property to pull up a shopping center there. One would have been warned if one had taken a look at the zoning and development plan. This is available in the municipal office or can be accessed via the digital cadastre of the federal states on the Internet.

The zoning and development plan provides the following information: building class (how high can you build?), Construction method (free-standing, coupled, closed, i.e. attached to the neighboring building) and dedication. The dedication determines whether and what may be built. Is it z. B. around grassland, may not be built. Without knowing the zoning plan, trouble with the building authorities is inevitable. Also, do not rely on the existing buildings for used properties.

The zoning plan is revised every ten years. This means that different rules can then apply to a new building than to an existing property.

“Don't just look at the plans for your own property, but also those of the neighboring properties. The shopping center doesn't have to be built there. It's enough if the neighbor can just build on my house. In eastern Austria in particular, you should also ask the community whether there are any wind turbines planned within sight of the house, ”said Foerster.

You should also inquire about possible exploration costs in the community. “Don't rely on it when the seller speaks of an open property. That does not exclude further costs in the course of the building permit ”, emphasizes notary partner Voit.

Also check whether your future property is in a danger zone. At www.hora.gv.at you can see whether the property can be affected by floods, avalanches or other natural hazards.

Trap 4: Wrong plans, disappeared square meters

Insist on complete plans and all documents such as completion reports, tradesman invoices or maintenance reports for your future property. This is not about an exaggerated love of order, but rather an important safeguard for the buyer.

"Building sins of the seller, z. B. illegal additions, too high buildings, built over the building line, the buyer almost always has to renovate. The seller's guarantee is usually excluded by contract, ”warns attorney Foerster. In the worst case, there is a risk of demolition or dismantling. In less severe cases, such as unauthorized relocation of the bathroom, subsequent approval from the building authorities is likely.

In order to avoid such problems, it is essential to check whether the house or apartment was built in accordance with consensus. That is, whether they are in line with the plans. And not with any plans, but with those of the building authorities. “Look for the stamp of the authority. The most professional plan is worthless if the authorities have never seen it, ”says Immo-Flüsterer Kirchner. If the plan no longer matches the current picture of the property - offset drywall is not a problem - you should ask the building authorities. A reputable broker should do this work for you or have already done this job. He is also obliged to disclose such deviations. In any case, do not rely on the fact that a house a few centimeters too high or a wall that is too close to the property line will not attract attention. “A lot comes to light in neighborhood disputes,” says Kirchner.

Notary partner Voit advises you to take a measuring tape with you when you look at it: “Buyers often only notice decades later that their apartment is ten square meters smaller than stated in the sales documents. Nobody measures. Most of the time the sellers didn't measure themselves. ”Foerster adds:“ The exact number of square meters is important, especially if you want to rent out the apartment later. ”If you don't want to measure: For apartments, the exact size should also be evident from the utility appraisal. Just like the condominium contract, this should also be handed over.

Trap 5: overlooked construction defects

“There is no fault-free house in either an old or a new building,” says expert Nussbaum and emphasizes: “You shouldn't get nervous yet. A crooked window sill, a small crack in the facade or a scratched window are purely visual defects. "

Something like this is a small thing against undetected damage in the building envelope. It can get really expensive. “The classic is the damp cellar. If the walls appear dry during the tour, that means nothing. The humidity can only be measured with a device. With a 40-year-old house, you have to reckon with the fact that it is no longer well sealed, ”says Nussbaum. Whether moisture is actually a problem, however, depends on the needs of the buyer. “Will the basement remain a storage room or do you want to turn it into a living space? Is there a continuous floor slab or just strip foundations? If the latter is the case, you can never dry out the cellar economically. If the moisture comes from the side, you have to dig free. If you don't get to it, for example because the garage is above it, all that remains is to seal from the inside. This is possible with synthetic resin injections, but it is expensive. "

On roofs, Nussbaum advises looking out for droppings from martens and dormice. “The animals like to eat their way through the insulation. There is usually only a complete renovation. "

Speaking of the building envelope. In modern low-energy houses, this should be very tight. "Check whether it is pulling out of the sockets. This is a sign of a leak and is particularly a problem with timber construction. It presses the warm, humid air, e.g. B. from the bathroom, into the electronic installation and soaks the wall structure. "

Nussbaum becomes skeptical when the seller quickly paints it in. This is often an attempt to cover up defects such as mold or water damage. After handover, it is often difficult to prove when the damage actually occurred for the first time. Often the coloring trick is revealed on a close inspection: “I just had a case where the freshly painted room looked very nice. Only one corner was completely cleared. The plaster has already fallen behind it. So they wanted to hide the water damage. "

However, fraudulently concealed defects are still the exception. You don't need an expert for the standard check of a property: “Test every switch, turn on every fan, open and tilt every window, turn on every hot water tap, test every socket.

Sounds banal, but when stressed, many people only come in after the handover, ”observes Kirchner. It is all the more important that electricity and gas are still registered for houses and apartments that have been vacant for a long time.

Case 6: The need for renovation is underestimated, operating costs explode

The house was really a bargain, there are no obvious flaws such as mold or water damage. With a little bit of money, you can turn it into a piece of jewelry again. A little money? Most used home buyers underestimate the cost of renovation. A cost estimate is anything but easy. Nevertheless, one should carefully calculate whether a renovation at a reasonable cost is even possible.

New facade, contemporary thermal insulation, new windows and doors, replacement of the heating system, new electrics - 100,000 euros are quickly gone when major renovation issues are pending (see sample calculation). Of course, it can be even more, for example if a new roof is necessary, the septic tank has to be replaced by a sewer connection or the room layout is changed.

In order to be able to estimate the costs, it is helpful to take a look at the average service life of the most important components: “Old ribbed radiators last an average of 30 years, electrical distribution boxes 35 years, gas boilers 20 to 30 years. In the worst case, you will have to pry open everything in the beautifully renovated apartment after a few years. Have the property checked out by an electrician and plumber before buying it. That’s a well-invested 800 to 1,000 euros, ”says Kirchner.

Incidentally, issues such as facade, roof or thermal insulation are not only decisive for home buyers. Home buyers should also consider these general parts of a home when making a purchase decision. “Has the facade been thermally refurbished or has the roof been renewed? Or is a renovation planned? It is the duty of every proper property management company to give a preview of necessary renovation work. The prospective buyer should also get this preview from the broker, ”emphasizes David Breitwieser, Head of Residential Real Estate at Broker EHL. Which renovations are pending can usually also be read in the minutes of the owners' meeting.

Attention: Is there e.g. B. a thermal renovation, this can increase the operating costs painfully for years. If the monthly charge increases from 200 to 400 euros, this can go beyond the scope of the loan repayment. You should therefore also take a look at the repair reserve. Have you been diligently saving up over the decades or is renovation only possible with a substantial additional payment from all owners?

Trap 7: quarreling neighbors

“Read the minutes of the owners' meetings before buying an apartment,” recommends Immo-Flüsterer Kirchner. That doesn't sound like the most exciting reading, but “that's the best way to read the mood in a house. Is there only arguments among the owners or are they behaving sensibly, e.g. B. what concerns improvement work in the house. Is there anyone who never pays the operating costs or blocks any renovation? You know the troublemakers relatively quickly. ”Kirchner also seeks a conversation with the property manager. “He's not interested in cheating on you. Of course, this requires the seller's authorization. If he does not want to give this, one should be skeptical. "

You can also read in the logs whether there are any legal disputes, for example with a construction company. Anyone who wants to rule out such risks can obtain a contractual guarantee that no legal proceedings are pending or threatened. In the case of rented apartments in particular, it is important to ensure that no disputes are pending with the tenant.

For Voit's notary partner, the most efficient method is still to talk to the future neighbors: "Ask whether there are often parties in the house, other neighbors are loud or whether there have been neighborhood disputes."

Trap 8: Badly negotiated

Despite or precisely because of the rapid price increases on the real estate market, the following applies: “There is definitely room for negotiation. Five to ten years ago, many sellers bought for half the price they are asking now, ”observes Immo-Flüsterer Kirchner. Industry experts estimate that properties that have been on the market for three to four months will receive initial discounts. After a further three to four months, the sale often takes place. The psychologically understandable motto of many salespeople: “You can try it once. It is still possible to ask for less. "

In the initial asking price, sellers usually look generously over weaknesses such as the lower floor. In cities, those who are not familiar with the area tend to be blinded by the postcode or the proximity to good residential areas, even though the location within the district is actually not very attractive.

If you want to know what has been paid for comparable properties in the vicinity, it is best to take a look at the sales in the vicinity. This is possible through evaluations of the purchase contracts, for example on immocheck.com. Deviations of 20 percent and more compared to the offer prices are not uncommon.

The greatest room for negotiation exists with used real estate. In the case of new buildings, the developers are usually not willing to negotiate, since their profit in a real estate project lies in the successful sale of the last apartments.

Trap 9: No funding or funding that is too expensive

The Mortgage and Real Estate Credit Act (HlKrG) has been in force since March of this year. It forces the credit institutions to inform potential borrowers more comprehensively than before, but above all to examine them more comprehensively. For the way to the bank and the building society, the following applies even more than before: Prepare yourself for the interview - the exact credit assessment is particularly important. It is therefore advantageous if you prepare your proof of assets and income in advance and take them with you to the bank - such as salary account statements for the last six months, deposit statements, savings contracts, life insurances, savings accounts, land register extracts, etc. to risk a rejection by the bank unprepared Avoid them whenever possible. The result can be a negative entry in a credit rating database. Other banks also access such databases and further refusals may follow.

In general, experts recommend going to the building society rather than the bank for people with lower incomes. The cost of living set by the building societies are usually lower, which makes the loan installments more affordable. In addition, the terms can be extended a little more generously than with many banks - terms of up to 40 years are quite common (at Raiffeisen Bausparkasse a maximum of 36.5 years). "For example, if I earn 1,500 euros net and have inherited a little something, a bank quickly calculates 1,300 euros in living expenses, which means that a mortgage loan is hardly enough," says credit broker Dietmar Plattner, Managing Director of MercurPlus. The only downer are the often somewhat more expensive conditions compared to banks.

Another trap with financing: You go straight to your house bank, get a loan offer and close it without any further comparisons. "The way to the house bank rarely brings the most favorable conditions," warns Christoph Kirchmair, managing director of the credit broker company Infina.

A typical example from recent times, which GEWINN has: Even a customer with the best credit rating is offered a surcharge of 1.75 percent on the three-month EURIBOR from his bank, with a two percent processing fee being charged.Customers with the best creditworthiness can still receive surcharges of around one percent with good negotiations, and “0.5 percent processing costs would be great,” adds Plattner.

Negotiating and comparing pays off in any case: “One percent interest rate difference per year means a savings potential of more than 20,000 euros with a flat rate loan of 200,000 euros over a period of 25 years. It is therefore important to compare, ”warns Kirchmair.

Summary: Always get at least three offers! If that is too complicated for you, you should contact a reputable credit broker or use a credit comparison platform such as

z. B. make a non-binding request at creditnet.at.

TIP: In the September edition of GEWINN you will find an overview of the cheapest mortgage loans. This can be called up by subscribers at any time via the GEWINN online archive.

Trap 10: black money and cash payments

Black money and real estate purchase are still considered petty offenses in this country. Financial criminal law sees it differently. For notary partner Voit, savings and risk are disproportionate: “You buy a property for 330,000 euros, but only state 300,000 euros in the purchase contract. So in the best case scenario you save ten percent of additional costs of 30,000 euros in black money. If the seller later says he never received the 30,000 euros in cash, you are out of luck. ”According to Voit, one should stay away from cash transactions at all:“ In the worst case, you will end up with a fraudster who is responsible for the property of collects black money deposits in cash from several interested parties at the same time. In truth, the property is already being auctioned off by the bank. The alleged seller of course denies receipt of the down payments. And people don't go to the police out of shame. After all, they did something illegal themselves. "

Since the introduction of the real estate income tax in 2012, there has been an argument against black money. The profit on property sales is taxed at 30 percent. The difference between the purchase and sales price is used for this purpose. The more black money flows, the higher the difference and the more expensive it is for the reseller. Owner-occupiers are exempt from the tax, but as soon as you rent the apartment for a few years, the finance minister picks up the money again.

In connection with the payment, the handover date should also be clearly regulated. Ideally, the seller has already moved out and the handover takes place with the signature of the purchase contract. The money is in the account of the trustee (notary, lawyer). The trustee puts the buyer in the land register and then pays the money to the seller. "Very important: you should definitely tell the notary if a late handover is planned, for example because the seller is still waiting for his apartment to be completed." Then there are two options. Either a legally enforceable notarial act is drawn up, in which it is clearly regulated when the seller has to move out. Or a purchase price retention is agreed. The full purchase price will only be paid on a fixed date once the seller has moved out. If he stays longer in the property, additional payments will be made.