How do I sell my house or apartment appropriately?

Top 10 questions and checklist

Good planning is the prerequisite for successful real estate sales. In this phase it is important to answer the following questions as good as possible.

Directly to the desired topic

1) What is my house/apartment valued? - Set selling price
2) Define prospective real estate buyers - Who are the potential home buyers?
3) When is the best time to sell real estate? - Influencing factors
4) Private sale or with real estate agent - Who will sell my property?
5) Right of first refusal in real estate sales - What should sellers know?
6) Documents when selling real estate - What is necessary and must be considered?
7) Energy performance certificate when selling a house - What actually is an energy performance certificate?
8) Selling real estate - What are the costs?
9) Right of consent - What is a manager's consent for the sale of an apartment?
10) Selling quickly and successfully - How do I upgrade my property?


1) Calculated value of my house? - Determine the selling price

As a private home seller, if you do not have reliable information or data about your home that can be accessed or any professional know-how or market knowledge, you will have to look for other ways.

Tips: You can research on the Internet which selling prices are offered for comparable real estates in the region. Do you rate your property better or less well in comparison? With this method, you may be able to find at least an approximate market-oriented calculation for your house. Of course, you can also contact us directly, we will be happy to assist you with our many years of experience.

If you bought your house from second hand, the former purchase price plus the investments you made - for example for renovations - will help you to find the right price. However, the current market situation is much more decisive. It ultimately determines which market price can be achieved.

Our experience: Setting a sales price that is too high in the hope of being able to achieve this price or having room to negotiate is generally not recommended. It is better to set a more favorable price and only engage in price negotiations minimally.

Recommended alternative: You can also hire an expert and get your house professionally valued. In this way, you can present the prospective buyer with clarity and credibility that meets objective criteria.

Without any doubt, an experienced broker can assess your house and recommend a possible selling price to be achieved even without an expert opinion. (Directly to the KBC-Packages)

2) Define prospective real estate buyers - Who are the potential home buyers?

It is worth thinking about potential home buyers in advance. Who are the potential real estate buyers and how can you reach them best? If you have a rough idea of who might be interested in buying your home, it will be easier for you to develop a strategy aimed at this clientele later in the sales process. Once you know and have defined your target group, you will be able to reach out potential home buyers with information that they are primarily interested in. This also determines your path to the buyer: You decide whether you want to advertise on the Internet, place newspaper ads or put a sales sign on the property or in the window. In addition, you can be more precise when formulating your ads text, designing the exposé and preparing or furnishing the apartment, once you have defined who you want to attract to your house/apartment.

3) When is the best time to sell a property? - influencing factors

Whether deciding to sell your property immediately or waiting another six months, there are two aspects to consider in particular: The prepayment penalty and the speculation tax.

Internal link to the prepayment penalty, Internal Link to speculation tax

Early repayment fee:

Long-term fixed interest rates are common in Germany for real estate financing, in most cases ten years. If the loan agreement is terminated within this period, you have to pay an early repayment penalty to the bank. If you want to sell your house, the bank must release you from your contract early. However, the early repayment penalty will be the lost interest.

This compensates the financial loss for the bank.

Therefore, you should first check whether you can get out of the contract without an early repayment fee. If there is no possibility, you can either use a free online calculator to obtain an initial assessment or request a calculation from your bank directly, if necessary.

How high can the amount of the early repayment fee be?

The amount of the early repayment fee is not regulated by law. However, there are judgements on what may and may not be done. A loan can be terminated after ten years even without an early repayment fee. If the bank itself terminates the loan, it may of course not require an early repayment fee.

The maximum compensation has now been set by the EU: For a remaining term of more than 12 months, the compensation may not exceed 1 percent of the remaining debt. If the remaining term is shorter than 12 months, the maximum compensation is 0.5 percent of the remaining debt.

When do I not have to pay an early repayment penalty?

  1. You have the possibility to exchange your property. In this case the current property is exchanged for another property of equal or higher value. The current loan agreement remains in force.
  2. There is also the possibility that the real estate buyer takes over the loan. There can be financial advantages for both sides: The buyer can save money by running the construction financing with a more favorable interest rate than he would get today. For you, in this case, the payment of the prepayment penalty would of course be omitted.

Speculation tax:

If you bought a house or an apartment, rent it out and then sell it again after less than ten years, speculation tax is obligatory in Germany.

Definition: Speculation tax is payable on profits made by transferring houses, land and securities in a short period of time. The amount of the speculation tax for the sale of real estate is calculated according to the individual tax rate. In contrast to the final withholding tax, it can thus be more than 25 percent.

When do I not have to pay speculation tax?

  1. If you bought a property for your own use and lived there yourself for two years, you can sell it after three years without having to pay speculation tax.
  2. If you buy a property, rent it out and only sell it again after the ten years mentioned above, you do not have to pay speculation tax.
  3. If you rented out your property and then lived in it yourself for at least three years before the sale, you do not have to pay speculation tax either.
4) Private sale or with an estate agent - Who is selling my property?

Should I take professional help or can I sell the property on my own without an agent?

There are many advantages having a broker on your side:

1) Saving time and organization

Selling a property is very time-consuming at every stage. From valuation, procurement of the documents, preparation of the exposé, organization/carrying out of viewing appointments (according to experience, approx. 30 to 40 viewing appointments should be scheduled), up to the review of the sales contract and subsequent handover. A real estate agent takes care of the main work of this time-consuming process.

2) Professional support and risk minimization

For many owners, selling real estate is a large and complicated project. It already begins with the preparation phase in which an owner is confronted with many questions. Which documents are required for the sale of real estate, should the property be sold better furnished or unfurnished, is renovation necessary? An estate agent answers all questions professionally and knows how to avoid typical mistakes.

3) Real estate valuation close to the market

The sound expertise of a professional broker provides a good proximity to the market. He knows the current price range of the property and which price strategy can be applied to achieve the best price. This way you will not sell your property below market value.

4) Existing client base - faster sale

An estate agent already has a certain customer base and knows for whom the property to be sold could be interesting. This gives him/her the opportunity to either rely on this customer base or to market the property in a different environment in a targeted manner and thus sell it faster. KBC Real Estate, for example, cooperates with numerous Chinese companies and organizations that mainly serve Chinese investors in China. This enables us to draw on a large customer base and a targeted environment that is difficult to access with other means.

5) Neutrality and trust

Selling a property through an estate agent is more objective and professional. With his/her real estate know-how and the distance to the object on sale, an estate agent is more often able to negotiate the sales price or to present his/her arguments to the prospective buyer in a credible manner.

6) Consultation and preparation

With founded specialized knowledge, an agent immediately recognizes important aspects, e.g. necessary renovation work or the overall position characteristics of a real estate. This way a realistic estimate of the market value is directly possible. An agent having an eye on the subject, can clearly identify the pros and cons of an object, much better than a layman.

Advantages of selling real estate (private):

1) Saving of the broker commission

The broker's commission is, for many owners, the main reason why they neglect the advantages of a broker and try to sell themselves. This is especially true for owners who have a basic knowledge of real estate, know the process and have already gained experience in selling real estate.

2) Self-determination and flexibility

Selling without a broker means more flexibility for many owners, because the owner can decide when and at what price he wants to sell independently. If the sale is unsuccessful, the seller still has the option to withdraw.


How to define a good real estate agent / characteristics of a good real estate agent

1. Sufficient market knowledge

A good real estate agent should be particularly familiar with the local market, as there is no single real estate market. Instead, the market in the corresponding region is very heterogeneous in terms of prices and development. For the correct assessment, the real estate agent therefore needs sufficient market knowledge and experience.

As an owner, you naturally want to sell your property as fast as possible and at best price possible. In order to be able to fulfill this wish, the real estate agent needs the necessary overview of the entire market to be able to estimate an appropriately high but realistic price. For example, if an estate agent promises you excessive sales prices that will have to be adjusted downwards over time, this can prolong the sales process. Therefore, make sure that the evaluation is realistic and do not get involved in utopian promises.

2. Professional qualification

Anyone who has a corresponding business license may call himself/herself a real estate agent. Training is not necessarily required for this.

The purchase or sale of a property is an important step in life for many people. Such a purchase or sale is very often closely connected with many formalities, enormous expenditure of time and great responsibility. The seller/owner needs comprehensive support, from the preparation, acquisition of documents, presentation and marketing of the property to the execution of the sales contract and finally the handover. Well-founded expert knowledge is very appreciated in this respect. A good real estate agent should not only have the appropriate education (at best a certified real estate specialist or for career changers at least the certified real estate agent), but also be able to recognize the challenge and be continuously qualified further.

3. Networks

A professional and experienced real estate agent usually has good contacts to construction financiers, real estate appraisers, interior designers, property management companies or other real estate experts.

He can therefore obtain necessary information faster or provide you with experts such as for construction financing, the preparation of a real estate appraisal, real estate insurance or property management if necessary. This saves you time and you can get everything from one source if desired.

4. Professional web presence

The website primarily functions as a kind of online business card. The website often is the first port of call when looking for an estate agent. A good informative website contains the concrete services and background information on the subject. If the website appears professionally, trustworthily and seriously, this is a sign that the broker is committed to you, sets high standards for himself/herself and pays attention to the quality of his/her service. A broker who, on the other hand, does not provide potential customers with sufficient information due to lack of time or experience, therefore cannot provide highly qualified service at all.

5. Transparency and trustworthiness

A good real estate agent communicates clearly, openly and honestly with you. He/she will explain to you the valuation of your property from his/her personal point of view, the possible duration of the sale, the procedure as well as the costs of his services. In some cases, he/she will point out possible problems or suggest solutions if necessary. He/she does not make empty promises and does not try to hide anything.

The interpersonal relationship with your real estate agent must also match. You will work with him for a long time, so make sure that you feel comfortable.

The services of an estate agent range from the first consultation to the sale of the property and the handing over of the keys. Depending on the type of business, you work with the real estate agent over a longer period of time. Therefore, it is important that certain sympathy is given and that you feel understood.

6. Good accessibility

The prerequisite for good cooperation and successful marketing of your property is good accessibility. The real estate agent should always be easily accessible for both, the owner and the potential home buyer.

Regardless of time or other objects, a good real estate agent should always be able to spare time for the owners and potential home buyers, so that any questions arising can be answered immediately. It is also crucial for the owner to have a personal contact with a person who always keeps him/her informed about the current status of his/her work.

5) Right of first refusal in real estate sales - What should sellers know?

During the whole process of selling real estate there are usually some prospective buyers who are preferred or considered by you as the seller. As a seller, you should therefore have clarified whether a buyer is entitled to a right of first refusal for the property or who has priority.

What is the pre-emptive right in rem?

This right of pre-emption only applies to the real security provided by the entry in the land register and also only for real estate. According to § 1098 of the German Civil Code (BGB), the property is encumbered in such a way that the party entitled to pre-emption, i.e. the party in whose favor the encumbrance is made, is entitled to pre-emption vis-à-vis the owner and the first purchaser. The pre-emptive right in rem is noted in the land register and thus serves as a priority notice to the interested party. Thus, the right prevents the transfer of the property to the first buyer until the person with the pre-emptive right explicitly waives his or her pre-emptive right.

What is the legal (public law) right of pre-emption?

  • For tenants: According to § 577 BGB, tenants have a right of pre-emption for their apartment, if it is to be converted into a condominium and sold to a first buyer.
  • For heirs: According to § 2034 BGB, co-heirs have a pre-emptive right of purchase if another co-heir decides to sell his part of the property.

Special case community of heirs:

If a co-heir's share of the inheritance is sold by himself/herself to a third party, a right of first refusal applies to the other co-heirs by law. The legal pre-emptive right only applies to the sale. This means: If the co-heir gives away his share, all other co-heirs must accept this.

All co-heirs of the community of heirs are jointly entitled to the pre-emptive right. If a co-heir has already sold or given away his share of the inheritance, he is no longer one of them. The pre-emptive right is only available to the other co-heirs if a co-heir wishes to waive his pre-emptive right.

  • For municipalities and communities: In § 24 of the German Building Code (BauGB), municipalities are granted a pre-emptive right in certain cases to secure urban land use planning.
  • In addition, pre-emptive rights are laid down in the Reich Settlement Law, in any laws on the protection of historical monuments, railroad laws and others.

The owner may, at any time and without any special reason, establish a contractual pre-emptive right of purchase with a person of his choice, but this does not affect any legal pre-emptive right.

Why should the owner observe the right of first refusal when selling real estate?

If an owner wants to sell his real estate, the contract of sale must be disclosed by him/her and the person with the pre-emptive right must be informed about the planned sale and about his/her pre-emptive right.

Afterwards, the person with pre-emptive rights must be given two months to make a decision. Thereupon the entitled person can decide whether he/she wants to make use of his/her right.

According to a ruling by the Federal Court of Justice in 2015, tenants are entitled to demand damages if they are not informed of their right in writing. The amount is determined by the loss of profit for the tenant, which is the difference between the market value of the property and the real negotiated sales price.

Even if tenants were not able to assert their right in advance and the property cannot be subsequently transferred to the tenant, the tenants are entitled to damages.

6) Documents in the sale of real estate - What is necessary and must be considered?

In order to be able to prepare the sale of a property properly, it is necessary to collect some documents. The following is an overview of who provides the necessary information:

7) Energy performance certificate for house sale - What exactly is an energy performance certificate?

Basically: Whoever wants to sell an apartment or a house needs an energy performance certificate. Only monuments and small buildings with a floor space of up to 50 square meters are exempted from the obligation to present a certificate. In general, however, it is always advisable - regardless of whether you are interested in a property or want to sell a property - to take a close look at its energy status. This information ultimately helps in the assessment of the costs for heating and hot water. The so-called energy performance certificate is the right instrument for this, as it provides information on the energy efficiency of every building. It is important to know that there are two types: the consumption certificate and the demand certificate.

Definition: In accordance with the still valid Energy Saving Ordinance, the Energy Performance Certificate contains information about the building and its heating system as well as the energy characteristics of the object - in short: it assesses the energy status of a building.

The document or a copy of it must be presented to interested parties at the latest when viewing a property and handed over after completion of the purchase. It helps providing orientation for the energy-related modernization of a building: it systematically reveals the energy-related deficiencies of a building and at the same time shows which measures can be taken to improve its energy balance. It is valid for 10 years. In 2009, the Energy Performance Certificate was introduced in Germany.

Who may issue an energy performance certificate?

It must be persons who have a certain qualification. First and foremost, engineers, architects, physicists or craftsmen who have undergone appropriate further training are authorized. However, there is no complete list of all those who are entitled to issue energy performance certificates. The German Energy Agency offers a very reliable list of experts.

The energy consumption and the corresponding costs are as follows:

Consumption certificate: The consumption certificate is based on the energy consumption values of previous years which heavily depend on the behavior of the residents.

Demand certificate: The demand certificate calculates the energy demand of a house without regard of the user behavior. An energy consultant on site evaluates the condition of the building fabric and the heating system in detail.

The owner can normally choose which one he/she prefers. However, there are exceptions: for buildings without renovation with up to four dwellings and a building application placed before 1.11.1977 the demand document is obligatory. Also, only the demand statement is possible if no consumption data is available for the building.

8) Selling real estate - What are the costs?

Whoever sells a property has a great interest in keeping an eye on the costs incurred. In the following, we offer a rough overview of the cost estimation for the seller when selling a house/apartment:

Energy performance certificate and costs

Since the energy saving regulation (EnEV) came into force in May 2014, you as a real estate salesman have the obligation to present an energy document of identification when selling your house/apartment. Selling a house without a valid energy performance certificate could cost a high fine (up to 15,000 Euro possible).

For condominiums or apartment buildings, the owners can first contact the property management. This is because the property management is often responsible for managing the energy performance certificate of the property. The energy performance certificate is more or less always issued for the entire building.

Depending on the year of construction and other criteria, either a demand or consumption certificate is required. An energy demand certificate costs more than a consumption certificate because it is more complex to create a demand-oriented energy performance certificate than a consumption-oriented energy performance certificate. With a demand certificate, the thermal insulation condition of the building must be checked in detail. The basis for the consumption pass is the consumption of the last 3 years.

Depending on the provider, size and living space of the house, prices vary - they range from 50 Euros to 500 Euros. The costs for the consumption certificate range from

300 Euros to 500 Euros in general, with the consumption pass between 50 Euros and 150 Euros.

Costs for land register excerpt/list of building charges

In practice, it sometimes happens that the owner cannot find a copy of the land register extract and has to apply for it again at the building authority. The inspection of the land register is free of charge. A simple excerpt, which you can request from the relevant building authorities, normally costs 10 Euros; a certified excerpt costs about 20 Euros.

In most cases a list of building charges will not be relevant for the seller, since the registration of a building charge is voluntary and you as the owner do not necessarily have to present a list of building charges to the notary or buyer.

However, if the seller is aware of any building encumbrance, he is obliged to make this known to the buyer. Without that information, the buyer can sue the seller for intentional concealment and assert his warranty rights.

Therefore, as a seller you are also well advised to inform the prospective buyer of any existing building encumbrances and to submit an excerpt from the register of building encumbrances before notarization.

As the owner, you can request a copy of the register of building encumbrances from the responsible building authority in most federal states (except in Bavaria, where no register of building encumbrances is kept, but the obligations are entered in the land register).

The usual costs for an excerpt from the register of building encumbrances range from €20 to €80 per plot of land.

Advertising costs

Of course, you want to present your property correctly and potential home buyers should know that your property is for sale. Therefore, expenses for advertising, exposé and online presence are necessary. These can vary significantly depending on intensity and effort and start at about 200 € - open end. In case you hire a real estate agent, he/she will cover these costs for you.

In order to get an idea of the value of your own property, a valuation report can be commissioned. The costs for such an appraisal: 1500 - 3000 €. Of course, it also plays a big role in which condition you want to sell your property.

Renovation measures and the costs involved should be considered absolutely individually. Smaller jobs such as painting the walls or even individual floor repairs can often be carried out by yourself and thus burden your wallet much less than a large renovation measure, which can quickly cost several 10,000 €. Do I want to do renovation? - If so, how intensive? -, a generally valid statement is impossible. Of course, small cosmetic repairs can have a positive effect on the selling price, but that high expenditures must be refinanced. This can’t be guaranteed with the real estate sales. For example, if you decide to use home staging to present your property to prospective buyers, this is a service that naturally costs money. Some work and changes are necessary may have to be kept longer depending on the duration of the sales process. This includes conception, renting the furniture for 3 months, transportation, basic cleaning, gardening, etc. In this branch of business, a percentage offer is usually made on the sales price, usually between 1 - 3 percent, depending on the type and scope of the measures (see Home Staging). In addition, the time of sale also plays an important role in relation to the costs involved. If, for example, you want to terminate a loan agreement early, the bank may demand an early repayment fee from you. Depending on the remaining term of the loan agreement, the early repayment fee may amount to between 0.5% and 1% of the remaining debt (link Early repayment fee). Speculation tax also plays an important role with regard to the time of sale. After 10 years you can sell your property tax-free. If you sell earlier and have not lived in the property yourself for at least 3 years, you will even pay more than 25% according to the individual tax rate in the worst case. (Link speculation tax).

9) Right of consent - What is a manager's consent for the sale of an apartment?

Basically, the following applies: A community of homeowners is indissoluble. However, this principle can rarely be implemented in reality. Therefore, it is often agreed that an owner must inform the property management company when selling his apartment and obtain its manager's consent. However, if this is not a mandatory requirement according to the purchase contracts, this procedure would still be advantageous for a trustful cooperation. After all, obtaining the consent of the property management company contributes significantly to a harmonious living environment.

The manager's approval of the apartment sale is intended to prevent financially or personally unreliable homeowners from joining the community of owners. For example, people who, for whatever reason, are not able to pay the house fees. To minimize this risk, the property management company often has the right to prevent the sale of the property to an unreliable buyer. However, since each owner can basically freely dispose of his or her property, refusal of consent is an encroachment on the property rights of the seller - i.e. the selling property owner. Only if there are really important reasons in the person of the buyer, which let fear that he will not consider the rights of the other condominium owners, it is possible to refuse the manager consent. This means: If it is to be expected, and there are good reasons for the fact that a real estate buyer does not have the necessary financial means to pay the housing subsidies or will neglect his/her special property, the risk is high that there will be possible payment defaults at the expense of the community. In order to limit this risk, condominiums communities normally have the right to block the sale of a property to an unreliable buyer.

10) Selling quickly and successfully - How do I upgrade my property?

What is Home Staging?

Home staging is the professional adaptation or transformation of individual rooms of an apartment or even the entire property for sales promotion purposes. The living spaces are optimally staged, which gives you the opportunity to sell your property at the best possible price in the shortest possible time. This adaptation includes the targeted use of furniture, color, light, as well as wall and floor design. Buildings that are prepared for the sale of real estate with Home Staging are also called sets, in reference to the creation of illusions in the film industry.

Home Staging - Sell your house or apartment at the best price?

As the owner, you are of course free to decide according to your needs whether you would like a decoration service for your property before selling it or not. Ultimately, the goal must be to recognize the maximum potential of a property and thereby get the best out of it. With Home Staging the selling price can be increased by up to 15 percent. The sales process is shortened by up to 50 percent. The interest in your real estate increases enormously.

Home staging is a service that of course also costs money. There is some work and change that has to be done which, depending on the duration of the sales process, may have to last longer. This includes conception, renting the furniture for 3 months, transport, basic cleaning, gardening, etc. In principle, in this branch of business a percentage offer is made on the sales price, usually between 1 - 3 %, depending on the type and scope of the measures. With a sales price of 200,000 € and 2%, home staging costs of 4000 € will be incurred. If a higher sales price is achieved through the home staging service, this investment is naturally refinanced and can be a very good alternative to a more cost-intensive renovation.

However, you must be aware that potential real estate buyers are not looking for the individual preferences of the previous owner, but want to fulfill their own living dream. Personal frills, empty rooms or blemishes often drag out the sales process unnecessarily and can of course have a negative effect on the sales price.

When does home staging make sense?

  • For vacant new construction- or renovation projects
  • For older existing properties or properties in need of renovation
  • For properties in the luxury segment (high expectations of the property)
  • For properties in a bad location and not in good condition, the investment is not always worthwhile, since home staging often becomes more expensive than the profit to be made on the sale.

KBC Real Estate works together with professional home stagers who can offer you good conditions. In addition, we give our customers the security of taking over half of the costs in failed cases. (external link)