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RENTING

Property: How to find a rental flat when you arrive in Austria

Finding an apartment or house in Austria is not easy, especially if you have recently arrived. Here's how to get a head start.

Property: How to find a rental flat when you arrive in Austria

Rentals in Austria are neither cheap nor abundant. It can take months for people to find a suitable place, get accepted by the property owner and pay all the fees related to the process.

From 2023, Austrians will at least get some relief, as the federal government is scrapping the Provision, or the broker’s fee that needs to be paid by tenants. From then on, the two-month rent non-refundable fee will be paid by the solicitor of the service, usually the person renting their property, rather than the prospective tenant. 

Even so, finding a flat as a newcomer can be challenging. Here are the best tips to give you a head start.

Ask around

Austria is very much a network type of country. People ask their friends for recommendations on services, possible job applicants, tenants and all sorts of things. 

READ ALSO: Ten tips for finding an apartment in Austria

Transferring the rental contract from one person to another is comparatively simple in Austria, which makes it relatively common place. 

Even if you have just arrived, it is worth mentioning to your boss, family members, colleagues at work or school and even Facebook groups for expats that you are looking for a place.

Someone might know someone. A coworker might even help you find a place without showing proof of salary just by mentioning you work together.

Generally speaking, offers don’t end up on official sites until they’ve been turned down by a person’s close friends and networks, so use your networking power, even if your network is rather small. 

Use the search platforms

Especially if you want to avoid paying brokerage fees (until 2023, of course), there’s no reason why you should not use the same tools and search engines Austrians do. 

And if you want to try and avoid the fee until 2023, a good way is by adding “Provisionfrei” as a filter or as a search term.

Some of the more popular websites to look for flats are Immowelt, Immobilien Scout 24, Der Standard, and Willhaben. There are many, but at some point, they start getting repetitive. 

READ ALSO: Renting in Austria: How to find a furnished apartment

Be prepared and be persistent

Finding a place is not easy, and you might send dozens of emails and applications until getting an official return. Websites are updated daily and early in the day, so set your alarm and check for new listings. 

The best places will be rented almost on a first-come, first-serve basis, as long as the first to come fulfills the necessary requirements. 

Once you get an appointment for a viewing, be prepared. Write down all your questions, take everything you might want to use (measurers and a printed checklist, for example), show up on time (this is extremely important) and bring someone with you (your partner or a family) so you can get a second opinion if you want. 

It is not rare for negotiations to start right off of the viewing, and those may last fewer than 15 minutes. You could even take some prepared documents and papers with you and hand them to the broker if you like the place. 

What to do if I don’t have proof of income?

One of the first hurdles that a person who is renting out a new apartment, especially for students or expats, is providing the real estate agency with proof of income.

Usually, they require the last three payment slips. But, unfortunately, that is not possible for anyone starting out a new job, coming here as a self-employed worker, or students, for example.

In case you come already with a job lined up, a work contract stating your salary should be enough for most real estate agencies. 

Other possibilities include showing the latest tax return for self-employed workers or having a family member co-sign as a guarantor, which is usually a good choice for students.

Additionally, you can negotiate a higher deposit, six months instead of three, or prepay a few months of rent.

It is not uncommon to negotiate several of these options with the broker or landlord. Sometimes, the higher deposit can be partially returned after a few months or a year.

READ MORE: The best places to live in Austria that are not Vienna

Some cities are more complicated than others

Of course, you need to take into account the regional differences when looking for a place and adjust your expectations accordingly. 

For example, Salzburg is experiencing a housing crisis and finding an affordable place there might seem nearly impossible. 

Others are difficult at some times in the year, for instance in Tyrol during winter sports season. 

Property in Austria: Real estate in high demand in Tyrol

In the capital Vienna, cheap and central apartments are highly disputed and could be difficult, especially for a foreign, to be the chosen tenant. 

If your budget is a bit higher or you are open to finding places outside of downtown, especially in the growing districts 21st and 22nd, there are more options. The city’s public transport system is excellent, and you will be well connected in just about any part of town.

The transport is also good to and from many of Vienna’s “commuter towns”, and that would perhaps be the place to look if you are searching for a house with a garden, for example. 

And watch out for scams

Not unlike any other part of the world, Austria and its residents can be victims of many types of scams, so watch out for them. 

Research the property thoroughly and don’t sign anything or send any money without viewing it. One of the most common scams is the “I’m overseas right now”, so be on the lookout for any landlord claiming to be away and, usually, asking for a deposit of some sort while they send you a key in the mail or variations of that.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Five common apartment scams in Austria

As a rule, no money is exchanged until the contract is signed.

If you’re unsure, or if the deal seems too good to be true, it’s best not to go ahead. Read our summary on avoiding rental scams in Austria for more information. 

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PROPERTY

EXPLAINED: Is the construction ‘boom’ over in Austria?

Austria has seen a property and construction boom in the last few years. Will inflation dampen new investment in the sector? And what will it mean for the property market?

EXPLAINED: Is the construction 'boom' over in Austria?

Austria has seen an increase in residential construction in recent years. In 2021, the activity in residential construction was the highest since the 1980s, according to data from Statistik Austria.

Around 71,2000 flats were built across the country in 2021, which exceeded the already high level of the two previous years by 5 percent and is the highest result since the beginning of the 1980s, the data institute said. 

The provinces with more activity were Vienna (23 percent of all completed apartments were built there), followed by Upper Austria (19 percent), Lower Austria (17 percent) and Styria (14 percent). However, the province of Tyrol, in Western Austria, had the highest construction activity per inhabitant, according to the data.

FOR MEMBERS: Is now a good time to buy property in Austria?

Based on annual average population figures, about 7.9 apartments per 1,000 habitants were built in 2021 overall. 

The highest rates were registered in Tyrol (9.0), followed by Upper Austria and Styria (both 8.8). The numbers in Vienna include only new homes in new buildings – not any renovations to add apartments to already existing blocs.

Rising costs and fewer new buildings

However, inflation has also been felt in the construction sector, according to a separate report by Statistik Austria.

“In October 2022, construction costs for residential buildings were +7.6  percent, significantly above the October figure of the previous year, but down slightly by 0.3 percent compared to the previous month of September,” said Statistics Austria Director General Tobias Thomas.

The Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO) currently expects the completion of new homes to stagnate this year and decline by 2 or 3 percent in 2023, according to Der Standard.

The reasons are inflation, higher construction costs, delivery problems and the new stricter lending guidelines that prevent some people from being able to borrow and finance a home, Wifo economist Michael Klien told the daily. 

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new property buying rules could impact you

Austrian housing researcher Wolfgang Amann told Der Standard that, from 2024, the stricter rules would have more impact leading to a “massive drop” of 24 to 30 percent in the completion of single-family homes. 

From August 2022, anyone applying for a mortgage in Austria is subject to new rules related to equity and terms and conditions for loans, as The Local reported.

The most significant change to house-buying rules in Austria is that there is now a mandatory deposit of 20 percent of the value of a property, including additional costs. Previously, banks were simply issued with recommendations about a minimum deposit.

Additionally, the monthly loan instalment may not exceed 40 percent of the monthly disposable net household income, and the financing term may not exceed 35 years.

So, what will happen to the property market?

Peter Marschall from Marschall Real Estate in Vienna told The Local: “In one scenario, the political situation is not so bad and property prices and demand go down a bit but not dramatically.

“In the worst case scenario, the war in Ukraine is still ongoing or getting worse, the economy is bad and bankruptcies are increasing.

“The question is, how bad will it get? I hope not as bad as some people predict, but it’s difficult to see into the future right now.”

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What will happen to Austria’s property market in 2023?

Justin from Amazing Austria told The Local that he expects prices to fall across the entire property market in Austria next year. However, it might increase transactions in some segments.

Justin said: “Predictions for 2023 are that the market will definitely slow at the lower end.”

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