Euroburo

Houses, chalets, apartments and businesses for sale in Austria




Our services and general advice
about aspects of buying property in Austria.


Austrian-musicians

Euroburo Ltd does not sell property - it advertises properties for sale by various estate agents in a number of countries.

Our associate company Delta Immobilien GmbH is based in Bad Ischl, about 40 minutes east of Salzburg by car.

On this page we cover a number of topics which are relevant to purchasing a property here in Austria. We hope you find them useful.

The Austrian Government also offers some very good practical advice for foreign citizens.
Please follow this link to: Austrian Government Information Service (English)

dealing with the austrian bureaucracy

Energieausweiss (Energy use certificate)

What is an "Energieausweiss"

An Energieausweiss (Energy use certificate) is a legal requirement in Austria for properties offered or sold after the 1st December 2012. Where a property is offered for sale by any of our other Austrian Estate agents then we have contacted them all and have had their assurance that any property which they offer will also have the relevant energy efficiency report available.

Euroburo is committed to ensuring that you receive a 100% service from everyone with whom we deal.


For help and assistance with insurance - contact our local partner:

Zürich Versicherungs-AG
Wiesingerstr 3/15,
4820 Bad Ischl
Phone: +43 6132 25154
Fax: +43 6132 25154-4885

Or just ask, and we will put you in touch with our English speaking contact there.


Transferring funds and Foreign Exchange.

You will be faced with transferring a large sum of money at some point. We can offer you assistance with this as we have special arrangements with a number of large foreign exchange companies who can save you a great deal of costs and probably get you a much better rate of exchange than you would obtain from your regular bank. Details on request.

Keep an eye on trends in the Euro with our weekly Euro Report from World First.


Who can buy?

If you are an EU citizen (or an EU registered limited business) you can buy on exactly the basis basis as an Austrian citizen or business.

If, however, you are a Non-EU citizen you will require permission to buy property in Austria.

Then it works like this . . . .

You cannot just get a general permission to buy something / anything. You have to say "OK I want to buy this particular property" as the permission is specific to a property.

You would need to sign an offer document which we, or our agents, can provide. Once we have that document signed we can then apply to the land commission (Grundverkehrsbehörde) for permission. This usually takes about 6 - 8 weeks. We have arranged this for other clients in the past and can assist with the formalities.

The Land Commission will decide if you are allowed to buy. Some areas are more willing to accept Non-EU purchase applications than others, but there are no "hard and fast" rules as to whether your application will be accepted or not.


What can you buy?

Hamlet in the Austrian woods

Hamlet in the Austrian woods

If you are looking to live in Austria permanently then you can buy anything except mountain farms (which are reserved for registered farmers).If you are looking to buy a property to use as a holiday home then things are more complicated. All residential property in Austria is designated either second (or holiday) residence (Zweitwohnsitz), main residence (Hauptwohnsitz) or Tourist Use (touristiche Nutzung). The designation is done by the local authority. Some local authorities allow a larger proportion of second residence than others. The rules are the same for everyone - Austrians and non-Austrians alike. It is not a ruling against foreign ownership as it applies equally to Austrians. There are good reasons for the ruling. There is a great fear that villages, especially in popular holiday resorts, will become ghost towns out of the main season if too many properties are allowed to be used as holiday properties. The major industry in most parts of Austria is tourism and it is important to keep places looking pristine!

Second (or Holiday) Residence - Zweitwohnsitz

The rules are that if you buy property which is designated for Zweitwohnsitz - second/holiday residence - you can use it as a holiday property for you and your family, or rent it out to holiday makers, or rent it out full time to a local or live in it all the time yourself. It is therefore completely flexible.

Main Residence - Hauptwohnsitz

If a property is designated Hauptwohnsitz - main residence - then it has to be lived in by someone who has main residence status in the place where the property is located. So if you buy in Zell am See, you would have to register as main residence in Zell am See. Main residence status means being registered in Austria and paying tax on your worldwide income here. You can live in the property yourselves or, alternatively rent it out full time to someone who is registered as tax resident where the property is. It cannot be used as a holiday home. In popular tourist areas you will find that anything up to 95% of all property is designated Hauptwohnsitz -main residence. If you are looking for an overseas "buy to let "investment, properties with this designation are ideal and the long term rental market in Austria is well developed.

In addition to the above general conditions there are some special local regulations. Austria is made up of 9 largely self governing regions and they can have very differing regulations.

For example in some areas the local authority will allow a main residence property to be rented out to holiday makers, provided this is done on a "business" basis - so they are looking for a high level of occupancy. In these areas, if you buy a hauptwohnsitz and rent it out on a commercial basis, this does not preclude you from using it as your holiday home when you are in Austria.

Conversely, in 2009 Salzburgerland introduced a new law. This has important repercussions for anyone wanting to own a property in the region to use as a holiday home and to rent to other holiday makers. Prior to the introduction of this law it was possible to buy a property designated for main residence only and to use it as a personal holiday home, provided that when the owner was not using it, the property was rented on a "commercial basis". As rental leases in Austria are written to a minimum 3 year term, this meant that the commercial renting which took place was to other holiday makers. For most overseas buyers this was an ideal solution. They had a holiday home and an investment income from their property ownership. Unfortunately this system caused 2 different problems. Firstly in residential apartment blocks, where there were mixtures of permanent residents and holiday makers, the permanent residents were very unhappy at being disturbed by "partying" holiday makers. Secondly, property prices have increased in tourist "hot spots", driven by the buying power of overseas buyers, with the result that locals cannot afford to buy property.

Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahn

Innsbrucker Nordkettenbahn

The 2009 legislation prohibits holiday letting in property designated as main residence, when there are 5 or more apartments in a building. Anyone who bought and rented prior to 2009 can continue to do so, but in the event they decide to sell, the new owners are governed by the 2009 regulations and can no longer continue to rent to holiday makers.

In Tirol there is a regulation that allows main residence property to be purchased and declared as a place of work. In this case the owner does not have to live there all the time and can use the property for a few weeks each year, without having to rent it out to others when the owner is not there.

To really confuse matters there are other areas where it is possible to buy a main residence property and use it as a holiday home eg in parts of the Salzkammergut.

Tourist Use - touristiche Nutzung

Tourist use is increasingly being used for plots of land/ properties in highly sought after tourist locations. The local authorities want to ensure that there is high use of the properties on these sites and that the users will be feeding income into the local tourist infrastructure.

Tourist Use means that buildings in these locations have to be developed as hotels or, if apartments are built, there has to be a mechanism to ensure that the apartment usage hits normal tourist occupancy levels. The result is that developers are increasingly bringing to market developments which are a form of sale and leaseback. Owners get to use the apartments for their own holiday use for a pre-agreed number of weeks each year and in the intervening periods the properties are rented out to other holiday makers - normally by a designated management company (so as to ensure the necessary levels of occupancy). Generally the same management company also acts as "Hausverwaltung" ( in charge of building maintenance). Hausverwaltung is required in any apartment building and is normally handled by a 3rd party company specialising in this type of work. It is normally the case that the purchasing contract includes the terms on which the management company is engaged and the conditions under which the owners can elect an alternative company to handle the rental operations and Hausverwaltung.

These types of development offer an excellent way to own a property in a ski resort and to have rental income, without the hassle of having to deal with the logistics of holiday rentals. There are also tax advantages as things are set up to enable full refund of VAT on the purchase price of the property - in Austria this amounts to a 20% saving. This form of ownership has been popular in other parts of Europe, especially in France where it has been in existence for at least 30 years. It is rather in its infancy in Austria, but is growing steadily in popularity.

Overall property designation in Austria is quite a complicated situation. The best approach is to fully discuss with us what you are hoping to do with a property and to get confirmation of the situation with each property you view from ourselves and our agents.


Where to buy property in Austria

Where to buy property in Austria?

Where to buy

Many visitors to Austria are only aware of the mountain and lake regions and most visitors to Austria have only been to one of the hundreds of amazing ski resorts. The problem for us is that such visitors fall in love with the attractive scenery in a particular resort and so they return there time and time again and thus acquire no knowledge whatsoever of Austria as a whole.

We say "take a good look at other regions of this wonderful country". There are many parts of the country with really attractive scenery and superb infrastructure and where property is still really cheap to buy. Look at the sections of this website devoted to "Lower Austria" and to the "Steiermark" and you will be extremely surprised at what your money will buy. The southern Steiermark and southern Burgenland still offer a very wide range of wonderful Austrian properties without all the complicated restrictions to be found in other provinces. See our Steiermark section on our website. The region also has a wonderful mild climate.

There are some difficulties if you are looking to buy especially in Tirol, Vorarlberg and Salzburgerland as the regional governments there have a policy of actively discouraging the purchase of holiday homes and make it difficult to obtain a holiday property there.


Property in Mountain Areas

Think carefully before you purchase a detached home in a mountain area. Winters can be very severe and you have to be absolutely certain that the heating doesn't fail or your holiday home will be a wreck. You also need to arrange for snow clearance otherwise it will set like concrete in the drive and you may well not be able to reach your property.


The Myth about high altitude ski resorts

Terrified that there will be no snow at all in a few years time? Due to popular TV programmes we are constantly being asked for properties at over 2,000 meters. First, think about the heating bill. Second, remember that you will be a long way from a supermarket on a steep icy road. They are not available at that altitude anyway.

Ski resorts only open when there are enough customers. They cannot afford a staff of 200+ when there are only a hand full of skiers. The idea that "because there is snow the lifts will be open" is false. Prior to Christmas when there are few people about, resorts will open just a few lifts - adequate for the number of visitors. The same applies at the end of the season when most people have gone back to work. So you might be high up and you might have snow - but your skiing is not guaranteed on economic grounds.


The Law in Austria

The Law in Austria

Making an offer and Fees

An offer to buy a property in Austria has to be in writing. It is called a "Kaufanbot". This document should not be signed until you are fully able to complete the purchase financially and is not "Subject to" any other conditions. Once you sign it and it is subsequently countersigned by the vendor the deal is complete. It is a binding contract.

We will guide you through the whole process and try to ensure that you make no errors and explain the system to you but it is the responsibility of the Notary to ensure that the contract is correct and that you understand it. If he or the selling agent who is usually present cannot speak sufficient English he will insist on a translator being present but this does not happen very often.

The fees for buying any property are roughly 9-10% of the price of the property.

The fees are made up as follows:

So in general terms a property which is being sold for 100,000 Euros will cost you 110,000 Euros when fees are included.

Please note it costs the same to buy via Euroburo Limited as to go direct to an Agent.

We charge no additional fee for our services.

Transferring funds and Foreign Exchange

You will be faced with transferring a large sum of money at some point. We can offer you assistance with this as we have special arrangements with a number of large foreign exchange companies who can save you a great deal of costs and probably get you a much better rate of exchange than you would obtain from your regular bank. Details on request.

Keep an eye on trends in the Euro with our weekly Euro Report from World First Foreign Exchange.

The rental market

In Europe, more people rent a property than there are property owners. The rental market is well established and well regulated. Leases are usually for three years and as long as you have been a good tenant they are automatically renewed as required. A security deposit of three months rent + three months service charges is normally required and this is returned to you as long as you leave the property in good order. You may also have to pay the estate agent one months' gross rent for finding you a place. There is also a small charge to pay to the Finanzamt (tax office) as a tax is collected on the lease. This is a one-off payment.

Estate agents fees

Estate agents fees are controlled by law in Austria. The property market is relatively slow and so commission rates are higher to reflect this. It will typically cost you 3% and both buyer and seller pay the same.

Capital gains tax

Austria is not a speculators paradise. There are controls on the housing market which largely remove major price fluctuations. In the last few years it has, nevertheless, become increasingly popular with buyers. The combination of stable returns underpinned with an effective and transparent legal system means that Austria is now the destination of choice for many investors. Add to this the chance to enjoy top quality skiing and many other summer pastimes and some of the most beautiful landscapes Europe has to offer, buying in Austria is an extremely attractive investment package.

If you sell a property, and have made a capital gain, then you may have to pay tax on the gain. Capital gains tax rules (Gewinnsteuer) changed in Austria in April 2012. The Government in Austria had been talking for some time about changing the rules regarding "Gewinnsteuer". The rule changes were published on 28.03.12 and come into force from 1 April 2012. At the moment all the tax and legal advisers are digesting the new regulations and how they will play out in reality. We are advising all clients to take appropriate professional advice when considering a house sale or purchase.

Konzession
Austrian-musicians

Konzession - a license to operate

In order to operate a business in Austria you are required to obtain a Konzession. This is a permission to trade from the local authority which ensures that businesses are competent in their particular trade. A plumber, for instance, must first obtain a professional qualification and the necessary experience before he can get a license.

Most of our clients have had little trouble in obtaining permission to operate a B & B or small hotel and we will assist as required with the application to the Bezirkshaupmannschaft.

Setting up businesses in Austria

If you are contemplating business development in Austria then you should be aware that the Austrian Government is more than keen to attract inward business investment. They have a special department charged with this responsibility and we have a very good working relationship with them and can introduce you to the right people when appropriate.

And finally . . . .

We are not business advisers although we will do our utmost to assist you. If you feel that you need professional advice then you should seek that separately. With common sense you should be able to succeed in a land which is a full member of the EU and where the administrative systems have been harmonised with other EU countries so much of it you will recognise. Remember that you have the same rights here as in any other member state and the only difference is that they do it all in German !

Start learning now !

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For rules, regulations, restrictions, renting-out, pension-transfers and other administrative procedures involved in buying property or relocating to Austria, please visit our more general Euroburo-Austria website.


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