German Mortgage

What’s the job of a notary when transfering a property in Germany? All you need to know!

Notary property transfer Germany: Today we will cover important facts about involving a notary in Germany.

Notary property transfer Germany: The role of the notary

Once the parties have agreed the terms, it still takes a few months until the buyer is entered into the land register. In most cases, neither side wants to wait this long. The buyer wants to move in quickly and the seller wants to have the money in his account as quickly as possible. The notary helps both parties get to where they want to be quickly and securely. The notary is an essential part of every property purchase in Germany.

The notary as a neutral entity

Even if one side – usually the buyer – is paying the notary, he still acts as a neutral entity for both sides. The notary’s duty isn’t just to certify the purchase contract, but also to answer any legal questions of the contract parties impartially. If one of the parties feels like the notary isn’t fulfilling his duties sufficiently, then they can engage a second notary for checking the certificate.

The notary receives a legally-determined salary for his work (the details can be found below). In order to create a draft for the purchase contract, the notary usually invites both parties into his/her office for a meeting. There are many questions to clear upfront: Possible land register charges have to be explored. The modalities for payments and the transfer have to be discussed, just like the handling of existing German rental contracts. The fee for the preliminary meeting is paid together with the normal certification fees.

If a couple is buying a property, then the meeting will determine whether both partners become owners or just one of them. The notary will also ask whether the purchase is done on credit. That’s because the bank of the buyer will only pay the money for the purchase if a mortgage is entered in its name in the land register. The notary handles the entry.

If foreigners or Expats buy properties

„People often underestimate the problems that can arise when married foreigners want to buy a property”, so notary Dr. Peter Veit from Heidelberg. That’s because there are potential foreign laws that have to be considered during the purchase.

Example: If a spouse should become sole owner of the property, despite the fact that foreign family law states that marriage partners can only become joint owners, then Peter Veit first has to work out a marriage contract for the couple. This contract then allows for a deviation from foreign law.

Examination of the land register

If possible, the notary will examine the land register prior to the preliminary meeting. The register is public and usually managed by the district court of the district the property is located in. The land register contains important information regarding the ownership rights and the legal charges on the property.  

Examples for charges are rights of way of the neighbours. The land register often contains a mortgage. The mortgage is an exploitation right, often also called right of lien. Whoever takes advantage of a property loan usually has to grant the bank a right of lien as security. If he is unable to pay back the loan, then the bank may auction off the property. If the seller still hasn’t paid off his debt with the bank, then his remaining debts usually have to be covered by the purchase price so that the mortgage can be deleted from the land register.

The purchase contract will then contain an agreement that the buyer still has to pay back the outstanding amount as a deduction of the purchase price to the old bank of the seller. The remaining amount of the purchase price will be reduced appropriately. Once the bank has received its money, it will agree to the deletion of the mortgage. The next owner will then receive the property free from any charges.

Things to do before the final certification

After the preliminary meeting is over, the notary creates a draft of the purchase contract. He or she then sends it to both parties, usually prior to the certification. If they have any complaints, they can then bring them up during the certification meeting or maybe ask for a separate meeting. However, basic things like the purchase price should be cleared prior to the certification. Before the parties meet the notary, the buyer should have inspected the property thoroughly. That’s because the liability for “material defects” is usually excluded from purchase contracts for used houses and apartments.

It’s in the interest of buyers that they obtain information about the value of the property prior to the certification of the purchase contract. They will not receive any help from the notary. He or she is only a legal advisor.

Mortgage for the bank

During the certification meeting, the notary reads the contract to the parties and answers questions. If the purchase is done on credit, then the bank of the buyer will insist on a mortgage being entered into the land register as security. Only then will it pay out the loan. For the ordering of the mortgage, the certification or authentication by the notary is mandatory, just like in the purchase contract. Usually it makes sense to certify the mortgage and the purchase contract in one meeting. This saves time and money. Buyers should talk to their mortgage advisor as early as possible so that he can send all the documents required for the mortgage to the notary.

Property purchase – after the signature

Once everything is signed, the notary’s job has only just begun. He guides his clients through the business as it was determined in the contract. To do so, he has received powers of attorney from both parties during the certification meeting. In most cases, the next steps are as follows:

A notice of conveyance is entered

The notary requests that a notice of conveyance is first entered into the land register for the benefit of the buyer. Above all, the notice of conveyance protects the buyer from creditors who might want to get their hands on the property before he is entered as the owner. As soon as the preregistration is entered, the buyer can pay the purchase price. He doesn’t have to wait until he is listed as the owner in the land register.

All required documents on the notary’s desk

In order to enter the new owner, the notary will request all the required documents. If the land register still has old mortgages that were ordered by the seller, then these will now be deleted. Theoretically, it’s possible that the buyer assumes the debts and uses his bank loan as security. The advantage of this approach is that the seller saves the cost for deleting the old mortgage and the buyer saves the land register costs for ordering the new mortgage. However, this model only makes sense if the purchase is financed through the same bank that the seller took the credit from.

Finally, the notary also makes sure that the community sends an explanation that it waives its right of first refusal. For the protection of the buyer, the notary will only transfer the ownership to the buyer once he has made sure the purchase price has been paid in full.

The land transfer tax has to be paid

Once the purchase contract is certified, the notary sends a copy to the tax office. The office then orders the buyer to pay the land transfer tax. Only after the tax has been paid will the tax office create the so-called certificate of good standing which is required for transferring a property.

In the end comes the order “Please pay up!”

After the contract is concluded, it usually takes two to eight weeks until the notary approves all the documents. After that, he requests the payment of the purchase price – for instance within two additional weeks. The purchase is transferred directly to the account of the seller or, if he still owes money to the bank, directly to the bank.

When a notary’s escrow account is required

The situation where the buyer first transfers money to the account of the notary (notary’s escrow account), who then later transfers it to the buyer, only happens in special cases. “For instance then, when the buyer wants to move in straight away and doesn’t have time to wait for the entry of the preregistration.” says notary Peter Veit from Heidelberg. “In that case, the money stays on the notary’s escrow account until all the requirements for the charge-free property purchase are fulfilled by the buyer.”

The keys are usually handed over prior to the entry into the land register

Once the seller has received the purchase price, it can take a few months until the buyer is entered into the land register as the new owner. The keys to the property are usually handed over before that. When exactly is specified in the purchase contract. If the buyer wants to move in straight away, for instance to start with the renovation works, then he might receive the keys at the point of signing the contract. However, he will usually only receive them after the purchase price has been paid. When the keys are handed over, usually the charges of the property are transferred to the buyer as well. He then has to cover the land transfer tax and the cost for waste and wastewater disposal. However, if the object is rented, then the rent payments go to him as well.


How much is the notary fee?

In Germany, notary fees and land register fees is set to be 2.0% of the purchase price. If you’re unsure how much it would be for the property you are purchasing and you’d like to check out your affordability, you can use this German mortgage calculator to do the math for you.

We are happy to answer any questions. Via email at or by phone 0800 05 28000. You can also start with the LoanLink mortgage illustrator here:

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