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General country information
At the heart of the EU, Germany is a federal republic comprising
16 ‘Bundesländer’ (states). Re-united in 1990
after 45 years of separation into the Soviet controlled East Germany
and West Germany, the country has borders with Austria, Belgium,
Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands,
Poland and Switzerland. It also a North Sea coastline to the north
west, and Baltic Sea coastlines to the north east.
To the south are the Bavarian Alps. Almost a third of the country
comprises forest and woodland.
Germany is a major industrial nation with major interests in
car manufacturing and engineering as well as in service industries
such as banking and insurance. It is the world’s largest
exporter and the second largest importer. It is also the UK’s
second largest export market, after the US.
The Foreign Office reports that more than a decade after reunification,
there are still differences in living standards between the eastern
and western Bundesländer with unemployment still a key issue
in the east.
However, there are signs the country’s long period of economic
stagnation is now at an end with healthy economic growth predicted
over the next few years.
According to the Foreign Office there is a general threat from
terrorism in Germany. ‘Such attacks could be indiscriminate,
including in public places frequented by expatriates and foreign
travellers’. However, ‘most visits to Germany are
trouble free’, it said.
UK citizens do not require a visa to enter Germany. However, those
intending to stay three months or longer must register with the
German authorities (Einwohnermeldeamt) within seven days of arrival. Those
staying in Germany for a short visit are not normally required
to register. Hotels are legally obliged to register guests
and this information is passed automatically to Einwohnermeldeamt.
There is no longer a requirement for EU Citizens to apply for
a residence permit.
British investors are free to buy property in Germany without
German people have a long tradition of renting their homes while
the tax system mitigates against property speculation and buying
costs are relatively high – around 6 to 8 per cent of the
purchase price plus an agent’s commission of approximately
6 per cent plus VAT. The upshot is that the property market is
relatively slow meaning that investing in Germany should be for
longer term capital growth.
In the interim, investors looking for rental returns can benefit
by German property prices not having moved ahead at the same pace
as EU partners and by strong rental demand from long term tenants.
(Rental yields are said to be as high as 10 per cent in major
cities although this is often in poorer areas where property values
are expecting to fall – more realistic expectations in better
areas would be between 4 and 6 per cent.
With many Germans moving from the poorer east to the more affluent
west, there is a housing surplus in the east – much is in
a poor state and earmarked for demolition or renovation. Germany
also plans a major home building programme over the next few years,
so shortages are unlikely.
When buying there is usually no pre-completion contract. The
terms and conditions of the final contract – which must
be signed before a notary (who acts for both sides) are for agreement
between the parties. Buyers need to employ their own lawyer, should
have contracts translated if necessary, and are recommended also
to employ a tax accountant. They must also satisfy themselves
on the condition of the property they are buying. Mortgage financing
is available, for up to 70 per cent of the purchase price. Long
term fixed rate terms at relatively low rates of interest are
Capital gains tax applies when properties are held for less than
10 years – although the tax may apply to all properties
information - Germany
||Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt,
age of population:
|+ 1 hour
||Temperate: cool, cloudy,