When purchasing a property, it is important to deal with the components and contents of a property purchase contract. Since this is not exactly an everyday event for most people, there is often a lack of both specialist knowledge and experience in order to be able to adequately protect oneself from legal risks – questionable or missing clauses then usually go unnoticed, but can have major consequences.
In order to avoid later legal disputes and high costs in the course of your purchase or sale, we, as experienced lawyers for real estate law, are at your side to advise you. We thoroughly check your real estate purchase contract, submit proposals for amendments and, in the worst case, represent you in court – in Berlin and nationwide.
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Immediate assessment of your real estate purchase contract
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Especially with the high investment sums of a real estate purchase, you should always “play it safe”. Your advantage: The assessment of the costs of a real estate purchase contract check is quick, non-binding and also easy for you to realise via form. Of course, you can also call us if you need verbal advice first.
Once a contract has been drawn up, the notary must make it available to the contracting parties at least 2 weeks before the final notarisation, provided it is a consumer loan contract. If the deadline is met, the buyer or seller has sufficient time to have the individual parts of the contract checked. If the notary does not meet this advance deadline, it is advisable to insist on compliance and, if necessary, to seek a postponement of the notarisation.
First of all, the contracting parties are named in full in the real estate purchase contract. In addition to natural persons, these can also be communities of heirs or legal entities.
The real estate purchase contract provides for a very precise description of the object of purchase. The object of purchase is named according to the designation in the land register. It is very important to check the name and description of the object of purchase very carefully. The object of the purchase or sale is only exactly what is described here. If the object of purchase is a condominium, reference is made to the declaration of division in the declaration of condominium for the description. Here, for example, extras belonging to the property are also described in detail, such as a garden share or just a special right of use to the garden. Special attention should also be paid to any easements that may be entered in the land register. These may concern the rights of neighbouring properties or, for example, a shared driveway in the courtyard or regulate the access of utility companies.
The transfer of ownership of a property or a plot of land is usually structured in a two-stage process in order to provide the best possible protection for both the seller and the buyer. For example, payment of the purchase price by the buyer is not due until a priority notice of conveyance or priority notice of transfer of title has been entered in the land register. The priority notice secures the subsequent acquisition of the property by the buyer, as it prevents the seller from selling the property to a third party in the meantime. In return, the buyer is then also only entered in the land register as the new owner after payment of the agreed purchase price. The parties usually have nothing more to do with these settlement processes after the notary appointment. They are carried out by the notary who has been authorised to do so.
Within the framework of the purchase contract, the notary also checks whether approvals from the public law sector or from a property manager are to be obtained. It must also be checked whether liens on property are still registered by a bank from a former property financing in order to determine the amount of a redemption sum in such a case.
The purchase contract also specifies a concrete date for the handover of the property. In most cases, this is the date on which the payment by the buyer also takes place. Since the buyer usually wants to take possession as quickly as possible and the seller only wants to hand over the property after the purchase price has been paid, this is the best possible date for both parties.
The real estate purchase contract also regulates the warranty rights for the buyer. In the case of used real estate, a warranty by the seller is usually excluded. In the case of new real estate, a statutory warranty for defects is provided here, which is limited to 5 years. When selling used real estate, the seller may not conceal any defects that could be relevant for the buyer. If he does, he must be liable for them. In this case, however, a buyer must prove that the seller was aware of the defect. This proof is very difficult and therefore it is always recommended to consult an expert when inspecting a property for sale.
The contract often also contains the conditions for a broker’s commission if the property was brokered by the broker. However, since the broker is not one of the contracting parties and has usually already earned his commission by the time the contract is signed, the regulation in the contract is not mandatory. If the contracting parties are unclear about individual points in a draft contract drawn up by the notary, they should have these checked by a lawyer specialising in real estate law and seek advice there.
When buying a property, the long-awaited dream of owning a home finally comes true for buyers. However, there are some important aspects and risks to consider when buying and concluding a contract for real estate: Purchase contracts in the real estate sector, be it an undeveloped plot of land, a developed plot of land, a condominium, apartment building or even a commercial unit contain a multitude of legal peculiarities. If you already have a draft notarial purchase contract, you will quickly realise that many questions arise here simply from the legal terminology used. Moreover, if the notarial contract is not individualised or if it originates from the other contracting party, certain contractual clauses are often disadvantageous or only superficially addressed.
Be aware that the obligatory accompaniment of a notary in a real estate purchase is by no means a guarantee that a purchase contract actually contains everything that is important to you. In addition, you should be aware that the notary regularly only provides a standard contract without taking into account the specifics of the individual case. As a result, this leads to legal risks, which should be avoided in view of the high investment sums involved in a real estate purchase.
This concerns in particular hidden risks within the following documents and records:
Look out for hidden costs
If you or the estate agent commission the notary on your behalf, notary fees will also be incurred if the contract negotiations are broken off. These are to be paid by the notary’s client, i.e. by you. If you are not yet sure whether the property is to be acquired, do not commission this! Sometimes such a power of attorney of the estate agent is hidden in the reservation agreement.
Commission technically experienced experts.
The commissioning of a technically experienced third party to inspect your property is strongly recommended, as a warranty exclusion is regularly agreed with regard to various raw and hazardous materials. This applies in particular to mould, asbestos and other possibly occurring pollutants within the building fabric.
*In the case of financing: consider the possibility of revoking your loan agreement.
As a rule, property sellers and property buyers are not liable because of broken contract negotiations. This applies to all cost-triggering measures (notary fees, inspection costs, futile financing costs, etc.). In the case of financing, the possibility of revoking the loan agreement should always be ensured until the notary appointment in order to avoid high early repayment penalties.
You want to buy a house, a condominium or a building plot? Such purchase contracts must be notarised by a notary. The buyer then receives a long and often difficult to understand draft contract. Have the purchase contract for the property checked! We look through the contract documents for you, check whether the purchase contract contains any disadvantageous clauses for your property. We answer your questions and give you tips on how to protect yourself from problems and disputes. The review of your real estate purchase contract is carried out competently by one of our experienced lawyers at a cost-effective fixed price. With comparatively low review and consultation costs, you can thus avoid long-term and costly problems.
*Rapid review and processing of your real estate purchase contract
Send us the contract documents with the form below without obligation. We will review the documents and contact you. A binding contract is only concluded when you send us a binding order in response to our message. Within two working days (Mon-Fri) you will then receive from us either a written statement or an appointment for a personal consultation, on site or by telephone – if possible, even faster!
Long-standing experience and competent advice on real estate purchases.
For more than 10 years, we have been working specifically in the field of reviewing real estate purchase contracts. In the past years, we have examined hundreds of contracts and advised buyers and sellers nationwide. Due to our many years of experience, we know exactly which clauses can lead to problems and advise you on which aspects are relevant for you in a purchase. We will review your contract and advise you whether, in our opinion, you can sign the contract in this form. If we find gaps in the contract, disadvantageous or problematically formulated clauses, we will immediately point out the respective problems and work out proposals for amendments which you can easily pass on to the notary. In order to minimise the potential for conflict in advance, we will give you general advice on the points to which you should pay particular attention during the purchase process.
What we cannot offer you at a fixed price
We offer our services at a very reasonable price. For a large part of the contracts, the processing effort is kept within a reasonable range in which we can work economically. However, a small number of contracts require very intensive processing. We ask for your understanding that in such cases we cannot carry out any processing at a fixed price. If, when reviewing the contract documents, we determine that comprehensive advice at the fixed price is not possible, we will inform you immediately. You then decide whether to continue to instruct us with an individual agreement.
If you would like us to review your contract, please send us your request with all relevant documents. This is only a non-binding enquiry. You are under no obligation to pay, nor are we obliged to process the matter. We will first examine the documents and then contact you. If the matter is not suitable for consultation, we will inform you of this and suggest an alternative.
Otherwise, we will let you know whether we have all the necessary documents and let you know by when we will send you a result or at what date we can carry out the consultation. With the notification, we will send you all the necessary information for the counselling contract. You can then use this information to decide at your leisure whether you would like to commission us. After a written confirmation, the contract becomes binding. We will also be happy to answer any queries you may have, provided they are within the scope of the contract review.
*Which documents and information are required for further processing?
Questions that you should clarify with the seller in advance:*Are there any housing benefit arrears?
Tasks of a notary in the purchase of real estate
The core tasks of a notary include in particular: The warning against a too quick conclusion of the contract, the securing of evidence as well as a general clarification of possible legal risks. You should always keep this in mind: A notary is the holder of a public office and is supposed to protect buyers and sellers by observing certain formal requirements. In addition, a notary is obliged to be neutral in all official acts and does not, as a matter of principle, give advice on the economic aspects or legal structuring possibilities of a real estate purchase; this is often misunderstood.
Watch out when buying real estate: a notary is not a lawyer
You must carry out the legal and factual examination yourself. Neither the seller, the estate agent nor the notary will help you with this according to your requirements. The seller and the estate agent have only one interest: to sell the property in the best possible way and to bring about a conclusion. The notary is obliged to remain neutral. In larger real estate projects, however, the notary will regularly coordinate the purchase contract with the seller and, in case of doubt, protect the interests of the seller.
A notary only superficially checks your contract documents
Put simply, the notary is supposed to ensure that you have really understood the text of the contract with the regulations and consequences contained therein. However, the notary only takes your interests and risks into account in general terms. The notary does not carry out an examination of all contract documents and/or the property for you and is also not allowed to advise you on a contract design that is favourable for you.
Once you have agreed on the terms of the contract with the seller and the notary contract has been prepared accordingly, a notary appointment is arranged. Depending on the notary’s schedule, this is possible within 24 hours, but usually within a week. It is important that you prepare yourself accordingly and that the purchase contract of your real estate has been thoroughly checked.
Which documents must be brought to the notary appointment?
All contracting parties must be able to prove their identity with valid identification papers. The notary verifies the personal details to ensure that the contract is signed by the correct person. As a rule, the notary requires copies of the identification documents. The buyer can also already take the documents for the financing to the appointment. The notary also needs your tax identification number to record the land transfer tax. However, you can usually submit this later.
Which parties are present at a notary appointment?
Normally, only the buyer, the seller and the notary are present at a notary appointment. However, the parties can also be represented by a lawyer or a third party. However, only if all parties agree to this. When representing a contracting party, it is mandatory to have a notarised power of attorney. Otherwise, the representative acts without power of representation and the contract becomes officially effective only after obtaining the consent of the represented party.
Reading and conclusion of the contract of sale of your property.
The contract of sale is read out after the personal details have been established. You should make sure that the contract of sale is the latest version that you have agreed with the seller. You will receive a copy of the contract from the notary. Always compare this with the last draft of the contract known to you. If the notary reads too quickly or if you have questions, do not hesitate to interrupt the notary. If you have any ambiguities, you should address them immediately. It is possible that changes were made to the contract at short notice that were not communicated to you. This is usually the case if the notary or the seller forgot to include important points in the contract. In the case of major difficulties and ambiguities, a further reflection period can usually be agreed with the notary. After the reading is completed, the contract is signed. This concludes the contract. For safety’s sake, always have a copy handed to you by the notary. The notary will inform you of the further steps to be taken after the appointment.
Your legal obligations as a buyer after successful conclusion of the contract
Your main obligation as a buyer is to pay or settle the purchase price and the ancillary purchase costs. If the property purchase is financed, you must submit the purchase contract to your bank. The bank will hand over its documents and data for the creation of the land charge to the respective notary. As a rule, the notary takes over all further necessary steps. Important: You should not pay the purchase price before receiving the due date notice, unless this was explicitly agreed in the purchase contract (e.g. exception when using a notary’s escrow account). In order for the transfer of ownership to you to take place as quickly as possible, the costs of the land registry office in particular should be paid immediately. After the payment has been made, the transfer of benefits and encumbrances (handover) takes place.
Purchase of real estate: Obligations of the seller after conclusion of the contract
Normally, the sale of a property takes place “free of encumbrances”. This means that encumbrances are deleted from sections II and III of the land register. However, encumbrances are only deleted with the official consent of the creditor. The deletion consent is only given to the notary by the creditor when all contractual obligations of the seller have been fulfilled. In the case of a land charge, the discharge is effected by payment. As a rule, the deletion authorisation simultaneously contains a payment instruction to the buyer or notary. If payment is to be made directly to the seller, the latter must confirm receipt of the purchase price to the notary. After all requirements for the transfer of ownership have been met and the purchase price has been paid, the transfer of benefits and encumbrances (handover) takes place.
Property purchase: Duties of the notary after successful conclusion of the contract
In principle, the notary bears the main responsibility for the execution of the contract and the purchase. He ensures the transfer of ownership from seller to buyer. To this end, you as the buyer must be entered as the owner in section I of the land register and the old encumbrances that have not been taken over must be deleted in section II/III of the land register (this is particularly the case with land charges). In this regard, the notary must ensure that all parties are secured in accordance with the contractual provisions. First of all, a priority notice is entered in the land register in favour of the buyer. In addition, the notary also obtains all necessary approvals and confirmations and reports the necessary information to the land registry and tax office. The tax office’s clearance certificate is required for a transfer of ownership. This is only issued after payment of the land transfer tax by the buyer. After the transfer of ownership, all parties are informed about the successful conclusion of the contract. As a rule, a current extract from the land register is sent to all contracting parties at the same time.