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How can I buy a second home in Austria?

Tyrol is one of the most popular places for a second home - which is perhaps why it is so hard to find one there. Photo by Matthias Betz on Unsplash
Tyrol is one of the most popular places for a second home - which is perhaps why it is so hard to find one there. Photo by Matthias Betz on Unsplash
Thinking about buying a holiday home in Austria? Here’s what you need to know.

With pristine wilderness and excellent winter sports options, Austria has plenty to offer as a holiday destination. 

For people who go there regularly, buying a second home or holiday home may be an option. 

Besides the cost factor, there are some hurdles to jump when buying a second home. 

Austria seeks to limit the number of second homes which can be purchased. 

In some cases, you can be fined up to €25,000 if you claim a home is a first home but is in fact a second home. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Can foreigners buy homes in Austria? 

Whether you can buy a home in Austria depends less on whether you are a foreigner or a local, and more on your residency status. 

Anyone who lives in Austria can buy property, although the rights are sometimes comparatively restrictive. 

More information on buying a property in Austria as a foreigner who lives here can be found at the following link. 

READ MORE: Can foreigners buy property in Austria?

Can I buy a holiday home in Austria? 

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

Whether or not you will be allowed to buy a holiday home will depend on a few different things, i.e. whether you are an EU citizen, where you want to buy the property and how the property is classified. 

The classification of the property is perhaps the most important. 

Properties in Austria are classified as either having a ‘second home’ status or a ‘fully managed’ status. 

Fully managed properties are those which are rented when not being used by the owner. Generally speaking, an owner is allowed to live in the property for a maximum of five weeks per year. 

Properties with a ‘second home’ status (Zweitwohnsitz) have no such yearly restriction. You are free to come and go as you please – and can rent it for all or part of the year. 

However, there is usually a maximum number of homes which can be designated ‘second homes’ in each region. 

While this is usually 15 percent, it can be a much lower percentage, for instance five percent. 

When that maximum is reached, no further second homes can be built or converted (i.e. a property bought and then designated as a second home). 

Anyone, regardless of whether they come from inside or outside of the EU, can buy a second home. 

Only EU citizens however are allowed to purchase a ‘fully managed’ property. Keep in mind that some popular areas such as Salzburg have put in place restrictions on fully managed properties. 

Property sites will often have clear icons which will show whether a property is “Available to EU citizens only” or “Available to all foreign buyers”. 

A wooden panelled Austrian home is kissed by petite snowflakes on a cosy day. Photo by Jara from Pexels

A wooden panelled Austrian home is kissed by petite snowflakes on a cosy day. Photo by Jara from Pexels

How do I buy a second home in Austria? 

The main hurdle in buying a second home – i.e. one with second home status – is actually finding one. 

The second home designation means that everyone is competing for the same few properties, including Austrian citizens. 

If you find a property, you must apply for a permit to buy it to the land commission (Grundverkehrsbehörde). 

Anyone in the region has 30 days to object to the application. Unfortunately, this requirement is not purely formal and applications will often be rejected on the basis of objection. 

People in popular ski resorts for instance will often object if a buyer is from abroad, EU citizen or not. 

This will of course differ depending on your experience. 

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) can take “many years”. 

The Luxury Vienna website comments it is “practically impossible” to buy a holiday home in these areas. 

Can I declare my second home as a primary residence? 

Declaring your second home as a primary residence might seem like a clever way to get around the rules, but it is illegal – even if you do not have another residence in Austria. 

Declaring a place as your primary residence will not only mean that you live there, but that you pay tax there on all your worldwide income. 

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. 

Buyers must indicate from the start if they are buying the 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.

What rights do I get as a second home owner in Austria? 

Unfortunately for non-citizens and non-residents, buying a home does not generally confer any additional rights with regard to residency. 

If you are an EU citizen, then you will be able to live in Austria under freedom of movement rules. 

EXPLAINED: How to apply for a residency permit in Austria

If you are not – and that, remember, includes UK citizens – then you will usually only be able to spend time in Austria under the 90/180 rule. 

This means that you can spend a maximum of 90 days in Austria out of 180 consecutive days. 

Useful vocabulary

Real estate commission – Grundverkehrskommission 

Leisure residence permit – Freizeitwohnsitzbescheid

Land acquisition by foreign nationals – Ausländergrunderwerbsgesetz

Please note: This report is done up as a guide only and should not take the place of legal advice. If you are thinking of buying a second home, then you probably already have enough money for a lawyer, so just use this report as a guide. 


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