• In the video: Four tips on how you can save money at the notary when buying a house

Anyone looking to buy property faces many decisions. Some are lighter, others heavier. One of the most difficult things is deciding whether it should be a new construction or a used property. Both new buildings and existing properties have certain advantages and disadvantages.

In general, it is not possible to say whether a new or used property is better.

These are the advantages of a second-hand property

The key advantage of purchasing an existing property over a new building is that the potential new home can be viewed in its entirety at any time. While in the case of a new construction only plans or comparable properties can give an idea of ​​the future house, the existing property is practical… you can touch it.

What to pay attention to when buying a house

However, a seemingly good deal can quickly turn into a scam.

Protection of monuments

You should be careful if the property is listed. A listed property can certainly be an asset as an investment, but the owner is often forced to carry out expensive maintenance. Some conversions are not possible due to the protection of the monument. It is best to call the monument protection office and get more information before purchasing.


Renovations can also make the purchase more expensive, especially if legal regulations restrict freedom in renovation work, such as replacing the heating system, or if the property must be redesigned to be barrier-free.


If damp or mold appears in a house, it is clearly a construction defect. Mold can be harmful to your health and humidity can damage the house, especially the walls. If nothing is done to address the cause of the moisture damage, the building structure will be lost.


Asbestos was one of the most popular building materials in Germany until the 1990s. Due to its excellent properties such as heat resistance, durability and resistance to chemical influences, it has been used in many areas of house construction. Only later was the enormous health risk posed by asbestos fibers recognized. When inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause serious lung diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.

Because of these risks, there are strict regulations for handling asbestos in Germany. To ensure safe disposal, asbestos-containing materials must be removed by certified specialist companies. This is not only technically demanding, but also expensive. Depending on the magnitude and difficulty of the job, the cost of asbestos removal can amount to several thousand euros.

How can I identify construction defects in old buildings?

Therefore, before signing the contract, it is advisable to carefully observe the property. Basically the principle “bought as seen” applies. Therefore, when it comes to used properties, it is very important to inspect the property carefully and identify problems that could reduce the value of the property or even lead to its total loss.

“It's surprising how naive many people are when it comes to buying property. Although many buyers are laymen, they are confident enough to carry out a complex valuation of the property,” consumer advocates emphasize when asked by FOCUS online. However, experience shows that many visits are carried out in a very superficial way. Nor is it properly assessed whether the building structure or building services are worth the asking price, nor are significant issues and future follow-up costs identified or even discussed.

The condition of the roof is more important than a beautiful bathroom.

Whether a property is in “good condition” cannot be known at first glance. Even if a home appears to be well maintained, it can still have serious construction defects. An expert, such as an architect or certified expert, can accompany the prospective buyer during the property inspection. He checks the property before purchasing it and must determine whether major renovation and modernization works will be necessary in the coming years.

When viewing a property, laymen often pay attention to the furniture and the design of floors and walls. However, the beautiful tiles in the bathroom or the expensive fitted kitchen are of less importance. Items that become expensive during renovation have a much greater impact on the value of a property. These include, for example, the roof, heating system, windows or pipes. If they are in good condition and meet current requirements, especially in terms of energy, this has a positive effect on the valuation of the house. If questions arise about damp areas, musty odors or visible cracks, they should be clarified in detail.

An appraisal may be helpful for security purposes.

If you want to additionally protect yourself as a buyer of a used property, you can have an expert prepare a valuation report for the property you are considering. This can be especially useful for properties that are over 30 years old. In the 1960s and 1970s, for example, many architectural sins were committed that are not obvious at first glance. The report makes it clear what defects the building or property may have. The condition of the house or apartment is also documented.

This allows the buyer to better plan any renovation, remodeling or modernization work. However, an appraisal is not free. As a general rule, this is a four-figure investment, which is a manageable size compared to the usual six-figure value of the property being purchased.

View the property several times.

Not all important details of the surrounding area can be seen on the first date. Construction noise in a new development area can be very different on weekdays and weekends. Odors from industry or agriculture may depend on wind direction, and takeoffs and landings at a nearby airport may depend on the time of day. That's why you should definitely plan several visits before making the final purchasing decision.

You must check these documents before buying the house.

An important source of information is the land registry extract. There is a separate property registration sheet for each property. The entries are divided into three sections:

  • The first section provides information about the owner of the property.
  • The second section provides information about the rights and charges associated with the property. These can also be usage rights.
  • The third section contains the mortgages. In practice, these are mainly mortgages. Banks have these rights registered as collateral for financing.

The building file also offers information of interest to the buyer of a property.

  • You can find them on the building's page. Construction permitone Construction Descriptionhe History and the Furniture of an object. Contains approved construction plans, sections, area and mass calculations.