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A guide to property buying
Housing

A guide to property buying

by Sarita Rao 9 min. 30.12.2020
From making an offer to finding a removal company, securing a mortgage and benefiting from tax incentives
Property prices are high, although you can apply for social housing projects if you don't own a property in Luxembourg or anywhere else Photo: Shutterstock
Property prices are high, although you can apply for social housing projects if you don't own a property in Luxembourg or anywhere else Photo: Shutterstock

Property prices

Until recently there were no property evaluation tools like Zoopla, but in the past year, several estate agents have launched online evaluation tools. Designed mainly for sellers, you can still use them to get a fair understanding of the prices for a specific property or location. 

Houser.lu provides price tracking and comparison tools whilst the Housing Observatory gives good information on prices paid for apartments and houses by commune. You can also check the average price per metre squared for both flats and houses on Wort Immo.

Expect to pay premium for a new build, less for a house that needs renovation or is being sold quickly for inheritance purposes. And of course, location is a huge factor in house prices. The closer to the city, the higher the price.

Finding a property

The aggregator sites below are a useful starting point. Viewings can be arranged quickly, but be aware that "good buys" are snapped up, and you often have to make a decision on the spot. Annoyingly, properties "under offer" can still be displayed on websites.

A high proportion of property sales in Luxembourg are done privately, so if you are renting the perfect place, consider asking the landlords if they are willing to sell directly to you to avoid estate agency fees.

www.wortimmo.lu
www.athome.lu
 
www.immotop.lu

www.immostar.lu

www.remax.lu

You can find a full list of local estate agents here

A fixer upper – renovations

Fixer-uppers can represent very good value but you must be prepared for extensive refurbishment (including gas, electrics, kitchen, and bathroom). Renovation costs vary but a rule of thumb is €100- 150 per square metre. You can shop around across the border and hire people from other countries to do the work. The government provides some grants and subsidies for house renovation. You can find out more here.

Build your own 

It is possible to buy off-plan or simply buy land from a developer and build your own bespoke house. Building work cannot commence until the developer has met the commune standards of putting in water pipes, a road, and street lights. The government provides information on building a home with more useful links on grants here.

Social housing

The SNHBM constructs houses and apartments with long leases, and anyone resident in Luxembourg has the right to apply for this housing.

Prices are often competitive and in desirable locations, and buyers can customise internal features. You can view housing projects here, and download the registration form here. You must not own a property in Luxembourg or anywhere else to qualify for social housing. 

Making an offer 

Once you’ve made an offer you’ll be invited to sign a commitment to sale agreement or compromis de vente.

This is a legally binding agreement that you commit to buy the property subject to mortgage approval. It will also set out a forfeit should you fail to buy the property, which is usually 10% of the sale value. You won’t be liable for this if your mortgage is refused.

Before signing the commitment with the estate agent, make sure it clearly states what is included in the sale, including fixtures and fittings and additional land such as a garden or garage.

Securing a mortgage

Most of the main banks in Luxembourg provide mortgages to foreign residents able to prove they earn a regular income.

Most banks and brokers offer fixed and variable interest loans on different tenure periods. In some cases life assurance is compulsory. It’s advisable to get quotes from at least two different banks.

Banks will also be flexible about starting monthly mortgage payments. If there is a time lapse between purchasing the house and moving in (due to rental contracts or renovation), they may be willing to let you start payments from the moving in date or charge you the interest only during those months.

You can find out more information on the mortgage process in Luxembourg and links to calculators in our article Applying for a mortgage

Tax credits

You can get a tax credit on real estate registration fees the first time you buy a building that will be used as a personal residence (normally 6-7% of the price of purchase). This credit is limited to €20,000 per buyer, so for a couple, it would be €40,000. You can find further information and the forms here. You can find out about other government subsidies here.

Notary

Most estate agents will recommend a notary (solicitor/lawyer) who will act on behalf of both the vendor and buyer. The notary will prepare all the paper work and check things like land registry. You will be given a date for signing all paperwork agreed by the bank and the notary. Take the day off work!

Insurance

In addition to life assurance, you’ll be responsible for buildings and contents insurance from the day the house switches to your name, even if you’re not living in it. You can find a list of insurance companies here.

Exchange of contracts

On the appointed day of your house exchange you must first visit the bank. They will confirm you have the necessary funds for your deposit and first payments, life assurance if required, house insurance, and that you are a resident of Luxembourg. They will give you the necessary documents (or bank guarantee) for the notary.

The notary will go through the contract (based on the compromis de vente) that you and the vendor will sign including an agreed moving out date, when the vendor must hand over the keys. Be aware that this can be up to 6-8 weeks from the date of signing.

Date the vendor moves out

From this point you are liable for commune taxes, utilities and insurance for the property. Be sure to do meter readings for gas, electricity and water.

Make sure the vendor leaves you all the various keys for the house, and any guarantees on integrated appliances, remote controls for electric garages and manuals for appliances and the boiler.

Don't take your own furniture apart if you want the removals people to put it back together. Photo: Shutterstock
Don't take your own furniture apart if you want the removals people to put it back together. Photo: Shutterstock

Removals companies

There are plenty of local removal companies to choose from. If you have a lot of stuff, bigger companies with larger vans and furniture lifts can also provide a packing service. You can find a list of removals companies on here. If you just need a "man with a van" ask on the Construction and Renovation in Luxembourg Facebook page.

Be aware that if you take apart wardrobes, beds or bookcases, you will be expected to put them back together. Also check that your goods are adequately insured for damage.

Normally the removal company can sort out parking restrictions with the commune for the date of moving.

Selling unwanted items/buying new ones

Moving is a good time to de-clutter. You can sell unwanted items online, or you can hold a house sale. These are also good places to pick up second hand furniture and appliances. If you need new items, you can find a list of home furnishing stores in the Grand Duchy here.

Utilities, post and commune

Make an appointment at least five weeks in advance for an engineer to switch your phone and broadband. You can also redirect post for a fee. Don't forget to change the name on your post box to receive mail.

Electricity, gas and water are rarely turned off, so just inform Creos and Enovos of the change of owner together with the gas and electricity meter readings. You can shop around for new suppliers once you've settled in. 

You can find out everything you need to know about connecting your new home here, including a price comparison calculator for gas and electricity.

You can agree with the vendor to leave waste bins behind, or you can order new ones from your commune. Bins left behind must be re-tagged (with a barcode) to your name. You can organise this at the commune.

Commune

You must register your residence at the commune as soon as you move into your new house. You can take your notary contract as proof of residence or a utility bill. You can also order new bins and provide a water meter reading.

You can find out more about buying a house on the guichet.lu here.


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