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Can foreigners buy property in Austria?

Can foreigners buy property in Austria?
Views like these explain the appeal for buyers in Salzburg. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN. 
More and more people are moving to Austria from abroad, while others might be planning to do so in the future. So how easy is it for foreign nationals to buy a home in Austria?

Despite the economic uncertainty hitting sectors such as tourism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, property prices have continued to boom in Austria. 

Prices have risen by 50 percent over the last decade. 

READ MORE: Where have housing prices risen in Austria during the pandemic?

So with buying becoming a more attractive option for whoever can afford it, can foreigners in Austria buy property? 

And what are the rules? 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Can foreigners buy a home in Austria? 

The short answer to the question is ‘yes’, but a lot will depend on your legal status with regard to residency, the type of property you want to purchase and the country – and state – in which you reside. 

First things first, check your residency status

If you are living in Austria as an EU/EFTA citizen you have the same rights as Austrian citizens when it comes to purchasing property, providing you plan to live in it as your main residence.

What about ‘third-country nationals’ who live in Austria? 

OK, so you might not be an EU/EFTA citizen, but you live in Austria as a national from a non-EU country – making you a ‘third-country national’. 

A third person national can only buy property in Austria if they have a permanent residence permit. 

Austria consists of nine federal states, and the laws about buying property are different for each of them. In most of these states, before a buyer from outside the EU can buy a property, the purchase must be approved by the real estate commission, which varies from state to state.

Getting permission can take anything between three to four weeks to several months.

The Austrian government website states “Requests are approved if the transaction is of cultural, social, or macroeconomic interest and no national interests are negatively affected.”

You can find out more about the rules in each individual states by clicking the following links (in German).

Two notable exceptions are in the city of Graz (Styria) and Vienna.

In Graz no extra permit is required for third country citizens who wish to buy a property there.

In Vienna, if you are a third country national married to an Austrian citizen, extra authorisation is also not required.

The Local spoke to estate agent Vana Doranovic, who works for Tristar.

She said the reason extra permission was needed for non EU citizens to buy property in Austria was to ensure there was sufficient housing for Austrian citizens and to prevent land and housing prices being driven up by “speculation”. 
 
She said: “If you live and work in Austria, and have a valid residence permit, you can usually buy a property. However, this should only for your own residential purposes. If you already own an apartment and you want to move to a different one, you should sell the one you own first.  
 
“In practice, we very often broker apartments in Vienna to non-EU citizens, and we have yet to experience a rejection from the Grundverkehrskommission” (the organisation which oversees land transfers in each federal state in Austria).  
 
She said getting approval to buy an apartment for a non-EU citizen could take between two and six months, so it was important to find a seller who was willing to wait for the buyer to be approved.
 

Buying a holiday home or second home

Charming scenes such as this draw people to Tyrol (Photo by JOE KLAMAR / AFP)

If you want to buy a holiday home or second home in Austria, even EU citizens face extra hurdles in buying in Austria. 

The German magazine New Business reported in 2019 that EU citizens buying a holiday home in the most touristy parts of Austria (Tyrol, Salzburg or Vorarlberg) must get a leisure residence permit (Freizeitwohnsitzbescheid) which can take “many years”. The Luxury Vienna website comments it is “practically impossible” to buy a holiday home in these areas. 

 There are also increasing crackdowns in these states on people who have bought homes which they claim are their primary residence and then used them as holiday homes, according to the German lawyer Dr Hannes Wiesflecker. 

A buyer must indicate from the start if he is buying his residence for permanent residential use. If, after signing the documents, a violation of the regulations is discovered, such as using the property for a second or holiday home, the buyer risks paying a fine of €25,000 euros.

Useful vocabulary

Real estate commission – Grundverkehrskommission 

Leisure residence permit – Freizeitwohnsitzbescheid

Land acquisition by foreign nationals – Ausländergrunderwerbsgesetz


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