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Thursday, August 9, 2012

INTERNATIONAL REAL ESTATE - House Hunting in Germany


This four-bedroom three-bath 1987 house was built by and for its architect, Diethard J. Siegert, in the foothills of the Alps outside the picturesque spa town of Bad Tölz in Bavaria, 45 minutes from Munich. It is on 1.7 acres and has commanding Alpine views.

The small foyer opens into a 750-square-foot living room with a 20-foot ceiling of exposed spruce beams and an oak parquet floor. The dining area is at one end of the room, and a fireplace, bordered by white Italian marble, at the other. Behind the fireplace is the library, and behind the dining area is a breakfast alcove that opens to the kitchen. Its centerpiece is an electric stove set into an island; it also has black marble countertops, dark gray marble floor tiles and gray wooden cabinets. The floor-to-ceiling window on the south side of the kitchen looks out onto the Alps. Through a kitchen door, and running the length of the house, is a four-season sunroom with a hot tub set into the Swiss granite floor.

A white marble staircase in the living room ascends to two bedrooms currently used as guest rooms. From the top of the stairs, a walkway to the right passes over the living room, leading to the master suite, which has an entertainment room, a dressing room and a bathroom. The tub is surrounded on three sides by windows with a view of the Alps; the room’s elevation preserves privacy.

property market at Bad Tölz is a town in southern Bavaria, Germany
Bad Tölz is a town in southern Bavaria, Germany. View to the Marktstraße. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The nearest restaurants are a half a mile away in the village of Wackersberg, but grocery stores and banks can be found in Bad Tölz, a well-known spa town three miles from the house. Many ski slopes are within an hour’s drive. Munich, Germany’s third-largest city and Bavaria’s capital, is a 45-minute drive, and the Munich airport is about an hour away.


Housing prices are climbing in Germany, said Dr. Tobias Just, a professor in the International Real Estate Business School at the University of Regensburg. Germany’s strong economy relative to other European countries has drawn many immigrants to the country in recent years, causing housing shortages, Dr. Just wrote in an e-mail. “Both rents and prices are rising,” he said, adding that prices in Bavaria are climbing faster than in other parts of the country, partly because of the relatively low unemployment.

The property market in Bad Tölz is quite robust, according to Martin Breitschafter, the managing partner of the real estate firm Engel & Völkers Bad Tölz. He describes the area’s property market as so stable that during the global financial crisis, it became an attractive place for nervous investors to park their wealth in local property. “The real estate market here in Bad Tölz is not risky,” Mr. Breitschafter said, adding that prices had risen 8 to 15 percent, depending on the area, over the last two years.

Apartment resales in Bad Tölz cost 2,500 to 3,500 euros per square meter ($284 to $398 per square foot, at 0.81 euros to the dollar) depending on their age, according to Mr. Breitschafter. The newer they are, the more they cost, he added, saying new units cost around 4,000 euros per square meter.

The typical single-family house in Bad Tölz costs 600,000 to 800,000 euros, but Mr. Breitschafter says most luxury homes are priced at a maximum of about 2 million euros. In the Wackersberg area, the site of this property, most houses cost 1 million to 2 million euros. This house is at the upper end of the range because of its striking Alpine views. Its modern architecture also makes it a rarity in an area of traditional wooden Bavarian homes.


Most prospective buyers are German, Mr. Breitschafter said, explaining that “our customers mostly come from the Munich area, and from other big cities like Düsseldorf and Berlin.” But the area also gets significant interest from the Netherlands, Britain and the United States — and he said there were even a few buyers from Russia.


Foreign buyers are welcome, said Michael Lindmair, a real estate agent with Engel & Völkers based in Bad Tölz and the listing agent for this property. Transaction costs, including transfer taxes and agent commissions, vary depending on the state. In Bavaria, transfer taxes of 3.5 percent of the purchase price are paid to the state government, Mr. Lindmair said.

The buyer and the seller each pay agent commissions. Including the value-added tax, the buyer’s share is 3.57 percent of the purchase price, Mr. Lindmair said.

Notary fees vary. “It depends on the contract — how long it is, and if it’s easy or if it’s not easy,” Mr. Lindmair said. “Normally it’s about 1.2 to 1.7 percent.”


District of Bad Tölz:

Bavarian tourism site:

Alpamare indoor water park:


German; euro (1 euro=$1.22)


Annual property taxes, called ground taxes, are paid to the municipality. Ground taxes for this house are 1,313 euros, the listing agent said.


Michael Lindmair, Engel & Völkers Bad Tölz, 011-49-8041-79-57-60;

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