Our new flat: 3. The Paperwork

I’m catching up on some blogging this week.  Yesterday I reported on how we arranged our mortgage.  Today, I take a look at the paperwork involved.

The decision to buy the flat had been relatively easy, and discussions with the bank had also turned out to be easier than I had expected.  Now we got down to the nitty-gritty of signing the paperwork.

Our first appointment was with the estate agent.  Here we had to sign a pre-contract agreement to show our intention to buy the flat – and to pay his fee of 5% + VAT.  If we turned back now it was going to cost us 1,000EUR.

Our second appointment was with the Notar (a form of solicitor who specialises in such things) to sign the purchase contract.  Here we met the seller for the first time.

The contract was 18 pages long, and the Notar read it all out to us and explained the more tricky to understand paragraphs.  I am particularly proud of the following paragraph:

“Herr Tappenden is britischer Staatsangehöriger.  Er ist der deutschen Sprache hinreichend mächtig, um dieser Verhandlung folgen zu können, wovorn sich der Notar im Gespräch überzeugt hat.  Auf Vorlage einer Übersetzung oder Hinzuziehung eines Dolmetchers wird verzichtet.”

I took that as a compliment!

Anyway, even though that was probably the biggest step in our life for a long time, it was all actually rather easy at this point.  We just needed to get our part of the money together (Eigenkapital, similar to the deposit in the UK) and sign a formal contract with the bank.

And then, we started getting lots of post.

Every now and then we got a letter from the Notar, telling us what he had done and including his bill for the work.  This would cause the town of Oberursel to send us a bill as well.  This is all to do with the Grundbuch, something like a land registry office.  First they put our intention to buy the flat on the books, stopping it being sold to anyone else.  Eventually the removed the names of the previous owners and entered ours as permament new owners.  And every step meant two letters and two bills.

But it didn’t stop there.  The Finanzamt sent us a few bills to pay as well – for Grunderwerbsteuer. The best thing I can think of to translate it as is “stamp duty”.  It is a tax based on the price of the property being purchased.

And then came the biggest envelope of all – from the bank.  It contained our mortgage documents and a list of things that we had to provide, sign, answer etc. before they would pay the seller.  Luckily we had about a month to get all of these together, as the list had 17 items on it!

One of the more tricky ones was something called a Zustellungsvollmacht – I needed someone who would legally be allowed to receive post from the bank from me in case I decided to stop the repayments and return the UK.  In this case the bank would want to repossess the flat, but would not be able to sell it until they had sent me notice of the sale.  Since they would not be able to forcefully deliver the documents to me in the UK, I had to nominate a German national who they could deliver them to instead and who would be responsible for informing me.

By the end of June we had managed to get all the money where it needed to be and all the documents that the bank wanted to have.

For a brief moment my current account was credited with the full value of the mortgage and had the entire purchase on it.  A few minutes later the bank transferred it all to the seller, and the transaction was complete.

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