Austria hardly needs introduction as one of the world’s top skiing destinations, and it isn’t resting on its laurels, with innovations in transport, snow-making and sustainability helping to propel the industry to new heights. No wonder one in fourteen Austrians work in winter sports! As for properties, they’re generally more affordable than in some of the country’s Alpine neighbours, and you have a wide range of resorts, from the historic and picturesque through to purpose-built and modern. Sound tempting? Here’s how to buy a ski property in Austria.
1. Find out if you need permission to buy a ski property in Austria
Any Austrian or EU citizen can buy property in the country without restriction. If you’re a non-EU citizen, then you need to apply for permission.
However, this is further complicated by the fact that each state (Bundesland) can set its own rules on who can purchase. Some regions do restrict the buying of second homes, but the main ski states of Tyrol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg luckily do allow them.
To apply for permission, you need to apply to the relevant provincial authority (Amt der Landesregierung), or, in the case of Vorarlberg, to the district authority (Bezirksverwaltungsbehörde). You’ll need to submit the request for approval, together with a copy or draft of your contract, a declaration of how you’ll use it, a surveyor’s plan, the property’s current entry in the Land Registry (Grundbuch) and your passport.
2. Start your property hunt and speak to estate agents
Now the fun starts! Begin by drawing up a list of your ‘must-haves’, ‘nice-to-haves’ and ‘absolute-nos’. Use this as your reference point as you begin browsing on SnowOnly. Once you find a number that you like the look of, begin contacting estate agents. A good agent will spend time discussing your requirements with you, and will likely send you further suggestions.
3. Arrange your finances
We say this a lot, but the key point to a safe and swift property purchase – especially in times of political volatility like these – is planning your finances from the start. Between putting in an offer and actually paying for your house, the exchange rate will move. And if that move is even one percentage point, you could find your house costing thousands more than you’d expect.
Before going out to Austria to view ski homes, make sure you’re in a position to make an offer immediately, having already worked out how to protect your money from this risk of the live exchange markets moving. Fortunately, the solution – locking in the same exchange rate for up to twelve months – is simple. Find out how it works in the free Property Buyer’s Guide to Currency.
4. Head out on your viewing trip
Next up is your viewing trip, that crucial point when you actually go and see the houses you think fit your criteria. You can either arrange it yourself, booking appointments with multiple agents and taking charge of your own accommodation and transport, or through a single agent, who can usually arrange a cheaper package for you. The latter tends to work better if you know that that specific agent’s portfolio is what you like and you’re set on it.
5. Make an offer
The property market can move fast, so make sure all decision-makers are on your viewing trip, so that you can offer as soon as you find something that suits what you’re looking of. If you spend time going back home to discuss with others, you could find someone else has already offered, especially in prime buying season.
6. Appoint your notary
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to appoint your notary (Notar). They’re an obligatory element of the purchase and represent the state as a neutral party. They draw up the contracts, ensure everything is carried out legally in terms of the process of buying a ski property in Austria, and act as a formal, third-party witness to all deeds and acts.
7. Sign the Kaufanbot
The Kaufanbot, or purchase offer, is signed by both parties and commits you both to the purchase. It’s advisable to have added in the clause that it is dependent on finance if you’re getting a mortgage. If there are no dependencies, then it is completely legally binding. In other words, you can’t be gazumped when you buy a ski property in Austria.
When you sign the final contract, the ‘Titel’, or buying contract, is completed and signed and then there is registration into the Land Registry (‘Modus’). At this, you will usually pay any sums due. You’ll then be free to take ownership as and when it is registered!