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Property in Austria: Can I still buy a holiday home in Salzburg?

Hayley Maguire
Hayley Maguire - [email protected]
Property in Austria: Can I still buy a holiday home in Salzburg?
Salzburg is a popular location in Austria for second homes. But vacancy taxes now make it more expensive. (Photo by Detlef Bukowski / Pexels)

The state of Salzburg has strict property buying rules for second homes. What does this mean for people wanting to buy a holiday home in the Austrian province?


Salzburg is a hotspot in Austria for holiday homes, with both Austrians and foreigners eager to invest in “concrete gold” in the province.

However, after a change to planning laws, buying a second home in the province of Salzburg became more difficult, if not impossible. 

Here’s what you need to know.

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What are the rules in Salzburg?

After years of high interest in property in Salzburgerland (especially in the winter tourism areas) followed by rising prices, the state government decided to tighten the law. 

This means when someone buys a house, apartment or building land in certain districts in Salzburg they have to prove that it will be their main residence (Hauptwohnsitz). 

For a developed property, the deadline to register a main residence with the local authority is one year after the purchase date. In the case of a renovation, the registration has to take place within five years of buying the property, or seven years for an undeveloped plot of land.

Additionally, if buying agricultural land, the buyer must be a farmer and a management concept has to be submitted, with 75 percent of the area managed by the farm itself.

If these requirements are not met by the deadlines, there is a risk of foreclosure and the property or land being sold at auction. The money from the sale will go to the owner, but auctions will start at 90 percent of the estimated value.

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Basically, this means that if someone buys property in Salzburg but doesn’t intend to live there on a permanent basis, they could lose it in the future.

The new laws have come into effect in 2023.

The purchase of second homes (Nebenwohnsitz or Zweitwohnsitz) or holiday homes in Salzburg will only be permitted in designated zones.


Why was the law changed?

In March 2022, the state audit office published a damning report on the property market in Pinzgau, Salzburg.

The report followed an investigation by the Social Democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), which found most apartment buildings, chalets and second homes in the Pinzgau district were sold to foreigners.

In many cases, agricultural or forest land was bought to build the homes, which is in breach of laws that say the planning board must check if a buyer is a farmer.

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The auditors found that "the rule of law was largely disregarded" and that sales of land and property were not properly documented, reports Der Standard.

In July 2022, the Constitutional Court (VfGH) then overturned part of the Salzburg Spatial Planning Act. The law had enabled the approval of around 3,000 second homes throughout Salzburg, which was found to be in breach of the principle of equality in the province.

The Austrian city of Salzburg. Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash

Second-home rules will depend on the region in Austria. (Photo by Dimitry Anikin on Unsplash)

Also, there will now be just one statewide Land Transfer Commission (Grundverkehrskommission) responsible for planning in Salzburg. Previously, there had been separate commissions for each district.

Are there any exceptions?

Michael Denkstein from Denkstein Immobilien Salzburg confirmed to The Local that if you want to buy property in an area that is designated for second homes, then it is still possible.

Additionally, if a property was already used as a second home before 1993, there are exceptions to the law. 

There is also the possibility to make an application to the municipal council to make an exception, although there has to be “reasons worthy of consideration”. According to the Salzburger Nachrichten, an exception could be a plan to retire and move to Salzburg in the next two years.

However, if none of the above apply, then a property can’t be bought and used as a second home in a restricted zone in Salzburg.

Where are the second home zones in Salzburg?

The sale of second homes is restricted in areas where more than 16 percent of the housing stock is already taken up by second homes. The areas are known as "reserved communities" and mostly affects tourist areas, like Pinzgau.

This means in areas where less than 16 percent of the registered homes are for second home use, a holiday home can (in theory) be purchased. It also means that the "map" of zones is in constant change.

In the city of Salzburg, a second home area is only permitted if there is enough affordable housing available for local residents. So it's always worth consulting with a real estate agent about the relevant local laws before planning to buy property in the province.

Earlier last year, the state of Salzburg also introduced a vacancy tax which owners have to pay if their property is empty for more than six months of the year.


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