Renting is the norm for permanent Leipzig residents. And I suggest newcomers rent for a while and figure things out. There’s no rush and there’s plenty to learn and many pitfalls to avoid. Read “THINGS TO CONSIDER” in the Overview section. You will pay up to 12% in closing costs so it’s important to make a good decision.
Potential home buyers should be aware that this is not the UK or North America where people have an obsession with owning their home. Leipzigers have no concept of “getting on the property ladder”. But if you like Leipzig as much as we do and plan on staying you may want to buy.
Like all across Germany at present property prices are inching up. Financing remains cheap and Germans, ever cognizant of hyperinflation during the Weimar Republic years, increasingly want to put their savings “into bricks”. Leipzig property can be divided by a north-south line through the Zentrum into the cheaper east (‘ost’) half and more expensive west (‘west’) half. There are some pockets of exceptions but this general rule applies. For more on recent price history check out The property market in Leipzig – Part 2.
The price map below (click to enlarge) shows how prices are distributed in the central areas of Leipzig. In the darker shaded zones expect prices for individual apartments in the range €1500-3000+/m2, medium shade zones €1000-€2500/m2, and lighter shade up to €1500/m2. Prices diverge widely among older Plattenbau, Altbau renovated to a basic standard, Altbau renovated to a high-end standard, and new builds. New builds are generally of a very high standard and almost without exception command prices north of €2000/m2. There are many new developments of ultra modern apartments with million euro plus price tags. You’ll find these almost exclusively located in the posh ‘viertels’. See our Area Guide for more info.
WHERE TO LOOK
If you are looking to buy then Immobilienscout24 and Immowelt.de should be your first and regular ports of call. Surprisingly many properties are listed on one but not on the other. The Immo’s are kinda the Bible for all things property in Germany. Search for “wohnung” (apartment) or “haus” (house) under “kaufen” (to buy).
The Immo’s will list the majority but not all of the properties for sale in Leipzig, so it is still worth checking out the local agents. We have direct experience using the services of Proventure and can attest that these ex-pat Brits are knowledgeable and reliable. Their website has some interesting property related information on Leipzig. If you’re looking to buy top end residential head straight to Engel & Völkers. The Finanzcenters at some Postbank branches always seem to have a good selection of 1 and 2, and sometimes 3, bed apartments and family houses advertised in their window. Try their downtown Brühl street branch across from the Höfe am Brühl.
The LBS office on Löhrstraße and also Otto-Schill-Straße tend to have a good selection advertised in their window, as does the HypoVereinsbank on Ratsfreischulstraße in the Zentrum. Not to be confused with LBS is LWB who are an agency of Leipzig city government in charge of managing the full range of public housing stock. They have all sorts of property for sale in all areas of Leipzig. Finally, worth a mention is the independent agent Abis Immobilien on Peterssteinweg. They usually have a good selection of apartments for sale (and rent) in their window.
THE BUYING PROCESS
Not all agents will have English-speaking staff on hand. If you’re used to pro-active real estate sales approaches in other countries you’ll be surprised by the laid back attitude here. We’ve heard umpteen tales of foreign property buyers having to hound agents to get any response and being generally frustrated by the overall experience. We suggest pestering agents in German via email regarding the property you’re interested in. Buying new builds directly from developers will of course be much easier, if you can stomach the high prices.
By far the best way to buy pre-owned property in Leipzig is directly from the owner. Firstly, you will avoid the hassle of dealing with agents and their 5-7% fee. Secondly, you avoid competing with everyone else when it’s advertised on Immobilienscout24 or Immowelt.de. When advertised on these two portals the best property is snapped up very quickly; we’re talking hours not days here. This is why when you look on these sites there’s a lot of ground floor apartments, oddly laid out apartments, property in less desirable areas or in noisy positions.
You would do well to find a local bilingual agent to ‘knock on doors’ and source exactly you want. Alas, we do not know of anyone currently offering this service. There is clearly a gap in the market (yet another one in Leipzig). Perhaps one of the letting agents mentioned in our furnished rental section may be willing. A local buyers agent acting on your behalf could also attend the foreclosure auctions. We understand among the many duds there are excellent foreclosure deals to be had; but knowing what you want, being able to move quickly as well as fluency in German are all requirements.
Once you have found a place you wish to buy you’ll need a further 10-12% in closing costs. These are broken down as follows; 1.5% land transfer tax, 3.5% Notar fees, 5-7% real estate agent fees. As stated above the latter are fully avoidable if you buy privately. Notars are a special type of solicitor who act as an independent third party ensuring the transaction is legit, the deposit and final payment are safely handled, and that ownership and land title is transferred correctly.
Finally it is worth keeping in mind Germany’s famous tenant-friendly rental laws. You would think if you buy a property and wish to move in that it would be straightforward to ask the tenant to leave. Not so. It’s common to offer the sitting tenant cash to vacate (say 6-12 months rent). So factor this into your offer. And keep in mind sellers of rented out property will assume you want to simply continue renting out the property, not live in it yourself. In Leipzig, with the relatively high vacancy rate, a tenanted property will typically ask for a higher price than an empty one. This is the opposite of Berlin!
[page content last updated January 2016]