Buying a property in Austria is mostly defined by EU-standard with some local variations.
The normal procedure is that the buyer makes a purchase offer including the main facts that are crucial for a following purchase contract prepared by a lawyer or notary public. Signing of a purchase contract has to be documented by a notary public for registration in the land register.
There are two stages of a contract. Firstly when an offer (whether it be hand written or verbal) is accepted, it is binding in accordance with Austrian law, although anything other than a written contract is hard to prove. The second step when purchasing real estate is registration in the Land Registry. Prior to registration, the seller remains the owner.
During these two phases the purchase price (or parts of it) is normally paid to an escrow account which, set up by the lawyer or notary public who has prepared the contract. There are serious laws regulating escrow procedures with obligate insurance, so there is nearly no risk in the money transfer at a property deal. The seller gets his money after the buyer is secure to be registered in the agreed legal and financial position.
Depending on the agreed time frame between signing the contract and handing over of the property the splitting of the purchase price may vary.
In general all EU citizens are treated the same as Austrian buyers. Nevertheless there are local legal differences, that vary within the 9 Austrian states. The different ground transfer laws are executed by the local municipalities controlled or overruled by the state authorities.
Acquiring permanent residences is free for EU citizens. Non EU citizens need a special permission that takes several months and is only given if they are going to work in Austria or there is another reason that is beneficial to both parties.
Acquiring a second residence is restricted in most western states of Austria and more liberal in central and eastern states. Most restrictions are in Tyrol and Vorarlberg, similar in Salzburg and Carynthia. More liberal are Upper Austria, lower Austria, Burgenland and Vienna.
Mayors mainly decide which properties or how many properties in a village or region are allowed to be acquired for second residential use. In general existing second residences can be sold/acquired for this use again. In many regions no new second residential areas are dedicated. There are local annual taxes for second residences which are not significantly high.
What can be problematic is that there are some legal restrictions that have not been executed in some states for years.
Additional information about the buying process in Austria:
In Austria, restrictions regarding the purchase of secondary residences exist. In general, the purchase of secondary residence has to be approved by the local authorities. However, citizens of the European Union are able to acquire real estate without any restrictions in case they establish their legal residence in Austria.
The sale of real estate requires a notarised sales contract upon which the purchase price is deposited in an escrow account. Ownership is subsequently transferred with registration with the land registry.
Associated costs may include lawyer´s fees, notary fees (approx. 1 % to 2 % of the sales price plus VAT), registration fees (1 %) and property transfer tax (3,5 % of the sales price).
Commissions of real estate brokers vary, but will mostly be based for both buyers and sellers at approx. 3 % of the purchase price (plus VAT).
Some information about the current market:
Prices for luxury apartments are currently based between € 4.000,– and € 10.000,– per m² in Vienna.
Detached villas and similar properties fetch between € 3.000,– and € 6.000,– per m² in Vienna.
An average medium sized villa in a good location will usually cost around € 1,5 – 2 million in Vienna.
The most sought-after areas in Vienna are the city center and the 13 th, 18 th, 19 th district.
Vienna has a very high standard of living and is currently very popular with wealthy people from Eastern Europe who have a second home in the city center. The prices for luxury apartments have increased dramatically over recent years.
Wealth tax in Austria is lower than in many other European countries.