There is no unified procedure for property acquisition in Austria. Each federal state and municipality has its own rules and regulations. Nearly everything is different, from the treatment of foreign buyers to registration fees with Land Register (Grundbuch).

Forms of property ownership

There are three main forms of residential property ownership as defined by municipal authorities. Each category has its own rules and limitations for property buyers and owners. It is therefore important for buyers to know what type of property they wish to invest in.

Main residence (Hauptwohnsitz)

The person permanently registered at this property is a tax resident of Austria and must live there at least 180 days a year. Permanent registration means the individual has a temporary or permanent residence permit. This property can be used by the owner or rented out . In popular tourist areas, 95% of all property is categorised as Hauptwohnsitz.

Second home (Nebenwohnsitz)

This type of property is reserved for personal temporary residence, short-term rentals for tourists or long-term rentals for locals.

Rental property for tourism (touristische Nutzung)

This type of property is also called “buy-to-let” whereby the owner lives in it for a predetermined number of weeks a year and rents it through a managing company for the rest of the year. Most commonly, this company is also the management company for the building (Hausverwaltung).

Other important property definitions

Property can be purchased through full or shared ownership. For example, two individuals (related or not) can buy the house together via the legal form of “property partnership” (Eigentümerpartnerschaft).

Buying an apartment or a townhouse is considered as the purchase of a share of a building from a legal standpoint. The exact share of each apartment in a building can be found out by contacting the cadastral authorities (Grundbuch).

Territorial limitations to property purchase

Legal entities registered in Austria have the right to purchase almost any type of property. However, 51% of the company’s ownership must belong to EU citizens or EU-registered legal entities.

Rules for non-EU buyers

Purchases by non-EU citizens are regulated by local authorities and each federal state and municipal district has specific rules. From experience, there is no absolute way of knowing the regulations for each municipality, however there are some common patterns.

For visa holders and foreign residents:

  • Resident permit holders can buy property in most regions except the Tyrol and Vorarlberg;
  • Student visa holders (with a residence permit) can, in general, buy property for personal use in the region of their study.

For non-EU citizens:

  • Vienna: non-EU citizens must have a residence permit in Austria or register the purchase to a legal entity;
  • Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Styria, Burgenland and Salzburg: it is possible for non-EU citizens to buy certain properties without a residence permit, but permission from local authorities is required. There are no strict guidelines in Austria that regulate these permits which is why it is important to seek help from a broker or a lawyer specialising in non-EU clients;
  • Carinthia: non-EU citizens can only buy property through a legal entity. Moreover, for different types of property in different municipal districts, different incorporation forms are required;
  • Tyrol and Vorarlberg: non-EU citizens do not have the right to purchase property in their own name even if they have Austrian residence permit. However, they can register the purchase to a legal entity.

How it works in Austria

After choosing a property, the buyer, agent and lawyer engage the purchase process. These legal procedures can take up to 45 days and registering the property to the Grundbuch can take one week to three months depending on the federal state.

1. Find a property. A local real estate agency offers properties that match your preferences as a buyer. The city, district and your budget are the main things to take into account. Once you have found one or more options that interest you, the agency will arrange viewings. Don’t hesitate to ask your real estate agent any questions about the property, payment procedures or potential discounts.

2. Sign the preliminary sales contract (Kaufanbot) and pay the deposit (sometimes not required). The money is transferred to escrow account.

3. Register the legal entity (if applicable). In many regions of Austria only a company can purchase real estate. A company can be incorporated in 7–14 working days.

4. Obtain permission to purchase property. Non-EU citizens needs special permission from a territorial commission (Grundverkehrsbehörde) of the municipality in almost every region in Austria. It takes 6–8 weeks to obtain this permit.

5. Sign the final sales contract and make the final payment. You and the seller must sign the final sales contract in the presence of a notary public and register it with the tax office (Fiskalverwaltung).

6. Property under construction (if applicable). If the contract is with a developer for property under construction, the money can only be transferred through an escrow account. The third party responsible for the escrow account will remit the funds to the seller at each completed stage of the construction as determined by Austrian law. Independent experts verify the construction at each stage. If the developer fails to get approval for that stage, the funds will not be remitted. The payment schedule is specified in the contract.

7. Register your property on the cadaster (Grundbuch). This can take from one to three months.

Additional costs and fees

Expenses are usually 10–13% of property value and paid by the buyer in accordance with Austrian law.

Property purchase costs Source: help.gv.at

Purchase costs,
% of contractual value
Registration fees 1.1
Legal fees

For buy-to-let investors
1.2–2.4
(incl. VAT 20%)
1–2
Agency commission

For buy-to-let investors
3.6
(incl. VAT 20%)
3.0
Property transfer tax 3.5
Additional costs,
EUR
Municipal permission
to purchase property
up to 1,100
Official translation services
(per hour)
about 100