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Selling your flat in Berlin: What to watch for

It's a good time to sell your Berlin flat. What should sellers look out for?

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The whole world seems to want a piece of Berlin. Often that comes in the form of an apartment – either to live in or as an investment. Whether a beautiful Altbau in Charlottenburg or a bachelor pad in hip Neukölln, demand for nice apartments within the S-Bahn ring is stronger than ever. Especially districts like Neukölln, Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain and Tiergarten are seeing high demand despite rising prices over the past few years. Between 40,000 and 50,000 people move to the German capital from all over the world every year, many of them attracted by the booming tech sector and the high quality of life. With a start-up sprouting out of the concrete every minute and the German economy stable, it’s unlikely that’s going to change any time soon.

If you already own a flat in Berlin and are considering moving – whether to another city or into a larger place within the city for a growing family – this is a good time to sell, says Níels Schnatz, a partner at Invest AB, an independent, multilingual (German, English, French) real estate agent based in Friedrichshain who caters to private buyers from Germany and abroad.

So, what should people who are thinking about selling a property in Berlin look out for? On the surface selling your flat seems simple: put an ad online and watch the enquiries roll in. In fact, the process is far more complex than first meets the eye. A number of questions should be answered before making such an important transaction involving what is probably your biggest asset. When is the best time to sell? How should the sale process be? How do I take care of my current mortgage? When can I consider buying my next apartment in Berlin and do I need bridge financing for that? How do I plan the property transfer in terms of timing and finances? How can I obtain the best price? What will prospective buyers ask? Which legal hurdles can I expect along the way? And so on and so forth. Any small mistake in answering these questions can lead to substantial costs.

Real estate appraisal in Berlin

There is plenty to consider. For example, the question of whether or not to engage an agent. Niels Schnatz spells out the advantages of using an agency such as Invest AB which has the experience and knowledge about the Berlin property market to be able to come up with a realistic asking price. This begins with a visit and a look at the physical condition of the flat and the building. He’ll also request all relevant documents from the building management (Hausverwaltung) in order to factor in any outstanding maintenance or repairs into the asking price. If you’re renting your flat out, the agent will collect all the relevant paperwork on the tenants, such as copies of the rental contract. Don’t forget, when determining the asking price, there should be room for negotiation – it’s normal for buyers to haggle.

The agent should take professional photos of your flat – tidied up, free of clutter and overly personal things, maybe with a bunch of flowers on the dinning room table. The photos should make your flat appear attractive but shouldn’t awaken unrealistic expectations in potential buyers. Sellers should be ready for viewings i.e. keep their property clean and tidy. Floors should be free of dirty underwear! Enquiries can start rolling in as soon as the flat goes online.

Realtors should ensure smooth interactions between the seller and the potential buyers, organise viewings and meetings, screen enquiries for time wasters, carry out the negotiations and explain all the German paperwork and regulations surrounding the buying and selling of property. Once buyer and seller reach an agreement on price, Invest AB can recommend English-speaking notaries who are able to draw up a bilingual contract. An agency should ideally accompany you until the notary appointment.

Niels Schnatz highlights the advantages of sellers working with an agency such Invest AB:

•   Free-of-charge appraisal of the property

•   Better market visibility thanks to their professional and efficient promotion

•   Save time and increase security with their screening process

•   A good selling price thanks to their negotiation know-how and sales skills

•   A successful and stress-free sales process

For more information visit www.invest-ab.com.

Good luck!