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Dear all, firstly many thanks for the support from British in Austria. We just had confirmation that we are entered in the Grundbuch in Mattersburg so we are now the official owners. Finally! It has taken just over a year because of delays in the probate court after the death of one of the owners. These are just the unpredictable issues which make it worthwhile to have a good lawyer.
The private market is a mixed blessing. Some people are lucky; some less so. Many private vendors are expecting unrealistic prices. Estate Agents have access to software which allows them to search for similar properties and to identify the real sale prices (often very different from the asking prices). These are jealously guarded secrets but you can ask the Makler for evidence to support the asking price. The m² price is only a very rough guide.
I would definitely avoid leasehold. I looked at properties tot he north east of Vienna – Florisdorf to Bismaberg, Korneuberg etc. The lease rental was generally between €500 and €1000 per month (ie up to €12,000 a year). Unless you feel that you want to spend the rest of your life supporting the monks of Klosterneuberg in the comfort they are accustomed to (for absolutely nothing in return) then I would steer well clear.
The second district is very varied with areas between the Prater and the canal quite sought after, whilst others are less so. When I bought my flat in Vienna I began with fairly clearly defined locations but soon realised the best value and opportunities might be in areas I had not considered. A good estate agent will be aware of this. He or she may also put you on the books so you get details before a property reaches Immonilien.net. Many of the best flats sell without being advertised on the Internet at all. Companies which specialise in the luxury market like Engel and Volkers also have a portfolio of clients looking for buy to let at the lower end of the market. But they tend to focus on the quality properties.
There is a reason why the Makler gets his 3%. They are supposed to represent both parties and help facilitate the sale.- Again some are better than others. But they are regulated by law and will be required to disclose any relevant information about the property and also to explain fully your legal commitment when you make an offer (an offer is legally binding in Austria so if your offer is accepted you are bound to it). In some cases the property may be bought as a shell and the kitchen and maybe some cupboards or other furniture bought privately for cash. Then you only pay tax on the property part.
In my experience new build tends to be more expensive and just like a car it can be worth buying a couple of years older so you don’t have such high depreciation (and the snags have been fixed!).
On the question of age it is certainly true that immediately post war building was lower quality in general – though with exceptions and sometimes it depends on the sector. the main issue with older property is insulation, windows and heating. Fernwärme has its advantages but you are at the mercy of some central thermostat to decide when you can have your heating on in the cool days in summer. If the building is not insulated then this cost will have to be borne sooner or later. Are the windows up to the modern standard. Also check current health and safety regulations especially for balconies, French balconies etc.
You can check the Grundbuch entry for a small fee to see who the owner is and whether there are any liens on the property. If you buy through a Makler he will provide you with a copy free of charge. He should also of course provide the Energieausweis, accurate plans and details of the Betriebskosten.
Finally check the property at different times of the day, check for late evening noise (rooftop parties etc.) and check open areas for dog poo. Look at the state of neighbouring properties and ask the Hausverwaltung what % of the flats are owner occupied. Tenants tend to look after them less well and a constant flow of different tenants may make for an unfriendly environment. Ask for the minutes of the last few Hausversammlung.