Birgit Adelsberger

Vindobona Blog

Buying Real Estate in Austria - Things You Should Consider First

More+Classifieds ♦ Published: September 15, 2023; 09:40 ♦ (Vindobona)

Not only in the capital Vienna, which is almost regularly awarded for its high quality of life, in many regions of Austria nature, culture and safety are felt everywhere in daily life and allow a certain lifestyle. That's why expats often choose to establish residence in Austria, even after their professional activities here have ended.

Real Estate Market in Austria: Buildings in Vienna / Picture: © / Birgit Adelsberger

The good news: of course in Austria, as in other European countries, it is possible for foreigners to buy real estate -you should just be prepared for the fact that it might take a little longer and therefore seek the advice of a professional.

Here is a brief summary of the first important facts:

First of all, it is necessary to distinguish between Eu-citizens and non-Eu-citizens: due to the prohibition of discrimination under EU law, EU citizens have practically the same rights as Austrians.

On the other hand, nationals of a non-EU-country, provided that there are no agreements between the respective country and Austria in this regard, must participate in an approval procedure. The exact conditions regarding the acquisition of land by foreigners are regulated in the respective law of the federal states. According to the homepage of the Austrian government for example, citizens of non-EU-countries need no approval for a real estate purchase in Graz.

On the above mentioned homepage you can also read that permission for the acquisition of land by foreigners is granted if there is a cultural, social or national economic interest in the conclusion of the legal transaction and if national political interests are not impaired. What does this mean in concrete terms?

A cultural interest exists, for example, if the applicant is of cultural benefit to the community or country (which can be applied on artists or scientists for example). A social interest exists, for example, if the applicant wishes to use the property to satisfy his or her personal housing needs or in certain inheritance matters. An economic interest exists in particular if the object of acquisition is intended to serve the establishment or expansion of a business or to maintain an existing business through the acquisition. Prior to approval, the authority checks whether the acquisition of the land does not violate state policy interests. For this purpose, an opinion is obtained from the provincial police directorate and sometimes even from the military command. A reason for refusing approval would be, for example, the establishment of a company that in reality serves the purpose of laundering black money.

In Vienna there are several exceptions to the approval requirement, such as married couples, who want to buy a real estate property together when one of them is Austrian citizen or in some cases of ownership partnership. Other exceptions are citizens and companies of an EWR country, citizens from Switzerland, if the exemption from approval results from other obligations under interstate treaties and if the granting of a movable property is only deposited in court (a so called “Superädifikat”) and under certain condition British citizens.

In Vienna the following persons may apply for a confirmation from the land transfer authority that the legal transaction is exempt from the approval requirement (negative confirmation):

- Swiss legal entities
- Beneficiaries by state treaty obligations
- Employees of the following institutions:

  • UNO
  • CTBTO (also for spouses)
  • OSCE
  • Joint Vienna Institute
  • OFID - The OPEC Fund for International Development
  • World Bank
  • European Patent Organization
  • IAEA
  • IOM
  • EC (Energy Community)
  • FAO

Please note that this article is not a substitute for legal advice! This is just a brief summary from my practice in the real estate industry. If you are interested in the topic, stay tuned and look forward to more reports. Meanwhile, if you have any inputs, what you would like to read about or you are looking for a real estate property in Austria don`t hesitate to contact me.

Birgit Adelsberger