by Manuela Spaur LBS Immobilien – Real Estate
Being Bavarian born and an American (Hawaii and California) Realtor currently working with LBS/ Sparkasse Finance Group in USAG Grafenwoehr, I’ve moved from the U.S. to Germany and have worked as a real estate agent in both countries. I help many military families with finding homes. You may be wondering about this new place you are going? So, let me walk you through the Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate) area of Bavaria and point out the differences between the U.S. and German housing systems.
The simple truth is that this is an area where many Germans and other Europeans go on their vacations. That speaks volumes about the beauty and desirability of the area. It is rich with the history, culture and the natural beauty that Bavaria is known for around the world. If you love the outdoors, but still want access to city life and services, then the Oberpfalz is the right place!
Bavaria and the U.S. have had a long standing positive relationship. All three U.S. military bases in the Oberpfalz are in the same general area, within an hour or so of each other. The large U.S. military presence here and its impact on the area are evident in all areas of life. The area without question is “American friendly” and international in its ambiance. Many people, who have been here in military service or as a contractor, end up investing here for their eventual retirement. Why? A simple German word “Lebensqualität” sums it up. Quality of life is what it means and it is real here. Bavaria offers an exceptional quality of life that is both affordable and stable.
Finding a Home
There are substantial differences in the property purchase system and the protocols. If you are thinking about buying, you should become a quick study on the subject before you consider a purchase. The best overview of the system that I have found was written by the German law firm of Streifler & Kollegen in Berlin and a “must read”: http://www.streifler.de/steps-to-take-when-buying-real-estate-in-germany-_2897.html.
Unlike the U.S. and other countries, in Germany there is no single source of real estate listings that offers a Multiple Listing Service and cooperation among Brokers. The fact is, that agents and brokers in Germany are not professionally licensed in the way we are accustomed to in America and do not provide the same types of service. This can be both puzzling and confusing for those of us that are accustomed to a more consumer friendly system.
Agents simply do not work together as with our LBS / Spatkasse network. In other words, if you want to see 10 houses you might have to work with up to 10 different agents! There are exceptions to this. Once you understand the system, buying a home or investment property can be a rewarding experience.
Depending on where in the world you come from, you will most likely be amazed by the value in Bavarian property. There are a few things to remember: 1) If it’s close to an American military base or large city ( Regensburg, Nuremburg ) it’s going to cost more. 2) If you consider up to a 30 minute commute acceptable, the market price drops dramatically. 3) If you are an investor you can expect a reasonable CAP rate and return. This return is driven by proximity to the military installations.
The range of pricing is too dramatic to document here, but you certainly can buy a country home for under €100,000, a penthouse condo in a medieval downtown for under €200,000 or a new custom home for €175,000 to $350,000. You could even find a real castle for a €1,000,000 or less! The selection in our area is exceptional and the market is stable. If you are not a German citizen German lenders will work with you if you have documented income and in fact, if you are working with a substantial military housing allowance, you could turn that into home ownership.
Being affiliated with the US Armed Forces, it is recommended that you start with your Housing Office and if you find you need more information, it’s readily available on the Internet in English. The Housing Office will be able to help you with rental questions. That is a subject that would require an additional writing of great length, but it is safe to say that jumping into the German private rental system, without an ally, would be like swimming at a beach where the “Shark Warnings“ are posted – not a good idea. You may want to visit my site www.BavarianAgent.com as well, for area information or you may find my listings on SargesList at http://www.sargeslist.com/index.php?a=6&b=814.
Wilkommen to Germany! I hope your move goes smoothly.
Manu and Jeff Spaur
Special Note: My husband Jeff and I have served real estate clients in Hawaii, USA as Brokers and agency owners for over a decade and now I have the pleasure of working with with my clients and friends here in Bavaria, with offices in Weiden in der Oberpfalz and Regensburg. Many of my active homes for sale are military who would like to sell their homes to other inbound military personnel! If you need an ally in your transition to the Bavarian region of Germany, feel free to contact me at BavarianAgent@gmx.com to answer any of your questions.
More Resources on Grafenwoehr, Vilseck, Hohenfels
Wikipedia Graf Info
USAG Grafenwoehr Link
Lots of PCS Info for Graf with Buying / Selling at SargesList!