Once you found the property you want to buy the actual buying procedure is simple and relatively risk free because the whole process is handled by a German notary.
So the first step would be to find a notary in Germany, preferably one who speaks English if you don’t speak any German. He is acting as an impartial middleman between both parties. He will check the land registry to make sure the land is in the sellers name and that they are no mortgages on the property. He will draw up a purchase contract, that contract can be just in German or in German and English. He will show this draft to both – buyer and seller – and give at least 2 weeks time to both parties to familiarize themselves with the contents. After that they can arrange an appointment for the signing ceremony. Please note, there was no money paid to the seller yet. This is only due after the signing ceremony and can be handled by the notary as well. In that case the buyer would pay the purchase price to the notary’s trust account. Of course the buyer also has the option to pay the seller directly to save some notary fees. In that case the seller has to confirm to the notary that he received the money. Buyer and seller should discuss this matter beforehand to see what they feel most comfortable with and let the notary know as this will go into the purchase contract as well.
At the signing ceremony all owners and buyers must be present (please bring passport or id card) or they give power of attorney to one of the persons present and the non-present party can confirm it at another notary’s office in Germany or at the German embassy or consulate in another country. The notary will advice on that.
The notary will read the contract to both parties and make sure it is fully understood before everybody signs it. Please don’t hesitate to ask any question. If the contract is only in German you have to bring a translator along.
After signing the notary will look after the legal transfer of ownership. First of all, he will request to enter a priority notice in the land register, like this the seller can’t sell the property to anyone else. He will also request all needed documents and certificates to register the property in the name of the buyer. Some of them might need to be paid directly by the buyer. Apart from that the buyer can just wait until the property finally was registered in his or her name – depending on the waiting list of the land registry this can take up to one year. But don’t worry usually you can already take possession of the property before, usually after the money was paid. The exact date will also be specified in the purchase contract.
Please always seek advice of a notary before you pay any money to someone or if you have any questions.