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Hello and welcome to our guide. has been working professional in the German real estate market for just over 10 years, is a limited company registered in the UK, and is owned and run by Arthur, a British Ex pat who has seen his fair share of crooks try and make a quick euro from unsuspecting customers!
We have decided to write a 10 part guide to the most important things to look out for when considering investing in Germany, to help you avoid being disappointed with your investment.
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If you are anything like me, one of the brilliant things about European architecture is solid, old buildings with unique designs. France is a well known destination for buying old barns and houses that have been practically untouched since the 1800s, 1700s, and even the 1600s are not unheard of. Well, Germany is the same and there are many beautiful historic properties to choose from on the market.
Of course, if you are a sucker for all things old, you are going to want to learn about ‘Denkmalschutz’, or just simply ‘Denk’ in local property slang, and what it means.
Denkmalschutz is ‘monument protection’ or, to coin our favourite phrase from the island, a ‘listed building’. As you can expect, various laws aim to protect different buildings, and what you can and cannot do with them, and how different the laws are here than back home.
Denkmalschutz is firstly, a principle and not one particular law. It covers things from standing stones to old ships and everything in between that is classed as cultural. Importantly, every federal state in Germany has its own take on what Denk is, and what they will let you do with a Denk classified building. For instance Berlin and Bavaria consider ‘urbanism’ and its culture to be worth protecting- wheras Thuringia and Brandenburg consider ‘folklore’ to be of great value.
Why are these variations important? Because that old factory outside of Berlin which is crumbling down at a bargain price, might be considered some kind of cultural ‘icon’ to the hipster community there, and you wont be able to knock it down, but in Bremen, where the house straight out of goldilocks is sacred, the Mayor would shake your hand for doing something with that eyesore of an old apartment block.
But its charming to own a house which is a listed building right?
Maybe, and maybe not. In the UK peoples eyes light up when the estate agent says ‘grade II Georgian house’ wheras in Germany purchases nervously ask if the property is under denk or not, and let out a small sigh when they hear yes. Why?
Well, the Denk was applied pretty liberally back in the 1990s. Over 1 million properties are currently listed, and as such find themselves under something called ‘Sozialbindung des Eigentums’ or, Social obligation law, which basically says it’s the obligation of the owner to look after the cultural history of the country. So you can end up with a planning offier in your face, gleefully telling you about how they think a certain kind of door/window/tile will look nice- and how YOU are going to pay for it.
Don’t be put off though. In the majority of cases, as long as you make a reasonable effort to renovate a property in keeping with its period- which if you bought it for the love of history and not just because it was CHEAP, you would want to do anyway, right- you will be left alone. And at the end of the day Germany understands to some degree your commercial interest VS historic preservation- These are the guys who ran an autobahn through a castle when it made commercial sence.
Schloss , a Denkmal monument which was in the way of the Highway. As you can see a compromise was reached!
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First- ask, don’t assume. Unlike in the UK, even an old factory or an ugly concrete apartment block could have some significant local cultural value and put it under Denk.
Always ask if it is Denkmalschutz listed, and if it is, under which categories. Take your time and even ask to speak to the Mayor or town officials to gauge what resistance you are going to get to having a free reign on your property.
Then weigh what you are planning to do with your property VS what the locals consider it to be. It will probably not go down too well if you plan to park a bunch of caravans, start a scrapyard and paint the building pink if it was the house of a local hero who died jumping the Berlin wall.
Tell your seller this. If they insist on deposits/contracts etc before they will give you this information, or you can feel that something is wrong, WALK AWAY. The project is probably not for you, and you will be trapped with a property that you can never fulfil quite what you wanted to do with it. Don’t even fall for a low price tag. There are plenty of fish in the sea. ALWAYS checks the Denkmalschutz situation of a property before offering it for sale, and give a full report as to WHY it is protected, and what realistically can be done with the property, before offering it to a client.
We hope this article has been useful to you, and if you have any questions about purchasing property in Germany feel free to contact the MYGERMANPROPERTY team. 
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