Everything you need to know when buying a house in Austria
How to buy a property in Austria? What is the purchase process if you want to acquire a chalet or a ski apartment in Austria?
Well done - you have made the bold decision to invest your well-earned money in a property in Austria. Austria is a charming place with traditional mountain villages, imposing snow-capped summits and friendly welcoming people. It is also a country that, compared to many of its alpine neighbors, offers some great value-for-money properties for sale with attractive rental income. So, whether your purchase is an emotional buy or an investment decision, Austria is a great place to buy a second home. But even though Austria has a strong legal framework and property buying process is generally quick and straightforward, there are many regional variations to the process which buyers may find confusing.
At ConnectHouses, we have a long track record of helping buyers purchasing all kind of property, from investment ski apartments to holiday chalets and hotels. We will assist you step-by-step throughout the process, providing you with our specialist knowledge and advice, to ensure you are always well-informed and get the best deal. We strive for a high satisfaction rate with buying real estate in Austria.
Austria is one of the safest countries for real estate investments. Reason is a stable economy, and constantly high demand for rental housing. Europe is a country of tenants, and Austria in this case is "ahead of the rest of the world" - 43% of Austrians rent housing, only Germany has higher rates.
There are many reasons for moving to Austria. Many send their children to study, or move for residing closer to a retirement age, or open a business and get a residence permit. In any case, the investment in real estate property will provide a stable and good income, as well as increase your credit rating in financial institutions of the country. That is, if you want, for example, to expand your business and take a loan, or purchase another investment apartment, taking a mortgage - all this will be much easier, if you are already an owner of a real estate on the territory of the country.
Costs of utilities and maintenance in Austria are low, and they are usually taken by the tenant. The real estate tax is also equated to utility payments and is usually paid by the tenant. Also, the sector of real estate management services is very developed in Austria. Whether it's a whole apartment complex, or just one apartment, you can sign a management agreement with a real estate specialist and sleep peacefully. The only thing you will have to take care of by yourself is to pay your taxes on profits.
It is also a benefit, that it is never a problem to sell the apartment when needed.
If your goal is to move to Austria and get a residence permit, then having an apartment or a house will be a huge advantage.
The search and selection process of real estate in Austria
Some people have been visiting the same Austrian resort for years and know exactly where they want to buy their property. But then there are those who have not made up their minds yet - so what should you consider if you are still undecided?
Austria is divided into nine federal provinces, each characterized by a diverse landscape and regional specifics, from different language dialects to culinary delicacies, customs, and local laws. Most ski areas are located in Salzburgerland and Styria on the east of the country, Tyrol and Vorarlberg in the west of the country and Carinthia in the south of the country.
Skiing infrastructure is superb across the country, so it is more about whether you like a ski area with hundreds of kilometers of slopes or a smaller, more private resort. Although only a handful are known outside the country, Austria has countless small to mid-size resorts with 40 to 100km of ski runs, so be open minded when you hear about new places - they may surprise you.
Although some people are focused on glacier or high-altitude skiing, snow-making infrastructure has hugely developed over the last years and is sometimes better than in the French and Swiss Alps, so ski season tends to be relatively long even in lower-altitude resorts.
Tyrol and Vorarlberg encompass some of the most famous ski hotspots including Kitzbühel, Lech, St. Anton am Arlberg or Sölden where you will find some incredibly stunning luxury properties with equally jaw-dropping price tags. On a general level, prices tend to be lower in the rest of the country. But there are always exceptions to the rule. In any case, whatever your budget is, you should be able to find a suitable solution.
Distance to airports
If you plan to fly in, then distance to airport is a crucial variable, especially if you intend to come for weekend getaways and short periods. Munich, Salzburg and Innsbruck are the key access points for most ski resorts, although Klagenfurt in Carinthia and Ljubljana in Slovenia are also close to resorts in southern Austria and have increasingly new connections to European cities. Don't forget to consider whether you rent a car or use public transportation to reach your holiday home. Austria has got excellent train network, so most major resorts are easily accessible.
Although it is mostly known for its winter offering, Austria has great appeal across seasons. Fresh air, mountain peaks and flowery meadows are the perfect backdrop for any type of activity from hiking, mountain biking to swimming in alpine lakes and playing golf. But this is not taken for granted and unlike many of its Swiss or French neighbors, Austrian resorts have gone to massive lengths to support year-round tourism. Nowadays, every resort offers a "summer card" with a list of varied activities for children and adults alike from theme parks to themed walks, indulging spas, tennis, and golf courses, cooking courses and much more. In most resorts, key lifts remain open to whisk summer visitors to the mountain peaks and enjoy the dense network of trails high up in the mountains. So dual seasonality is normal, and entertainment is guaranteed throughout the seasons. In addition, most resorts are keeping up pace with the millennial demand and embrace all types of visitors - so expect yoga courses in open nature, vegan menus in restaurants and organic farm stays for families.
If you have the time, the best way to get the right idea of what exactly you want is doing a short viewing trip. ConnectHouses will be happy to assist you in designing the best itinerary to allow you to visit several different properties, so that you have a better idea of the property market options, prices, etc. Bear in mind that in high season, in some properties, viewings are only possible on Saturdays when rental guests change.
Investment property vs. holiday home explained
Each property in Austria has a defined legal status which determines the way owners are allowed to use the property. Properties will typically fall in one of the following categories:
This type of property is intended for long-term stay and therefore optimal for those who want to permanently relocate to Austria. Owners need to register as permanent residents in the property and become Austrian tax residents. It is also possible to rent out this type of property on a long-term basis to someone who will register there as a permanent resident. Given these strict requirements, permanent residences are usually not suitable for most foreigners who only want to use the property occasionally as a holiday home.
A variation on the Anglo-Saxon "buy-to-let" property, this type of property presents an attractive combination of investment property and holiday home and is the most sought-after by foreign buyers. These properties allow several weeks of private use to their owners (typically 4 to 12) and are sublet to visitors by a professional agency in owner's absence. Thanks to the rental income, owners can achieve an attractive net rental yield, usually between 4-6% per annum. This concept is extremely well developed in Austria as regional authorities attempt to support the tourist sector and prevent the creation of "ghost towns" whereby foreigners would purchase a property and only use it a couple of weeks every year. The rental management is a hassle-free exercise for owners as the management agency will cover everything from guest management, check-ins and check-outs, cleaning, and maintenance. There is also a significant tax advantage for acquiring a “Tourist Residence” in Austria.
Second Home (=Zweitwohnsitz)
This type of property offers complete flexibility of use. Owners do not need to register as permanent residents, they can use the property freely as they wish, sublet it on long- or short-time basis or not sublet it at all. Properties with this legal status are extremely rare, particularly in Tyrol and Salzburgerland. From 2018, the number of Second Homes in Salzburgerland has been restricted and municipalities with more than 16% of existing second homes are no longer allowed to permit new Second Home projects. If you are looking exclusively for a Second Home, ConnectHouses still has a good choice of these properties.
Deciding whether you want an investment type of property or a flexible second home is the one most important thing to decide about the property you want. Bear in mind that if you decide for the latter, your choice will be significantly more limited.
Whatever the purpose of your interest in the Austrian real estate market is, our specialists will be happy to advise you on all aspects, select objects for viewing, accompany the deal and take up post-sale services.