Explore our Ski Property Buyer’s Guide and learn how to buy a ski chalet or apartment in Austria. If you are looking for personalised advice, call our ski property experts on: +44 (0)20 7486 9419 – five minutes on the phone can save a lot of time on wasted research. Alternatively, feel free to email us.
Explore our Ski Property Buyer’s Guide and learn how to buy a ski chalet or apartment in Austria.
Why buy a ski property in Austria?
Buying a ski chalet or apartment in the Austrian Alps is a wonderful lifestyle investment. A mountain chalet or apartment is an exciting addition to your property portfolio, offering Alpine adventures for your family.
The Austrian Alps offer a variety of dual-season resorts, perfect all year-round. You can enjoy high-altitude skiing and plentiful snow in the winter months. In the summer, Austria’s mountains boast endless hiking and biking trails, as well as many picturesque golf courses. From late Spring, Austria’s beautiful lakes are warm enough for swimming and sailing.
Austria’s famous and welcoming hospitality is another great reason to buy a chalet in Austria.
Types of properties in Austria
In Austria, each property has a defined legal status which determines how the owner is allowed to use the property. Mountain properties typically fall in one of the following categories:
Permanent Residence – This type of property should be used as a primary residence where you live for most of the year. It is also possible to rent out this type of property to a long-term tenant who will use the property as their primary home.
Second Home (Zweitwohnsitz) – These rare properties can be used privately as a second home without any rental obligations. This type of property offers complete flexibility and is also available for non-EU citizens to buy. Property of this type is extremely rare in Austria and is unheard of in the desirable Tyrol and Vorarlberg Provinces.
Tourist Residence or rental investment property – This type of property can be used as a rental investment in a “buy-to-let” model. This property type is the most popular for international buyers. These properties are easiest for owners as everything is set-up and professionally handled for them. Owners always sign a rental agreement with a management company and have peace of mind knowing that everything is handled for them.
Thanks to the rental income, owners can achieve an attractive net rental yield, usually between 3% – 6% per annum. This concept is very well developed in Austria as the authorities endeavour to support the tourism industry.
Buying a “Tourist Residence” property in Austria also offers a tax incentive. You can reclaim some or all of the 20% VAT on your purchase.
Who can buy a ski property in Austria?
If you are an EU citizen, you can buy a property in any of Austria’s nine Provinces and the process is very straightforward.
If you are a non-EU Citizen, then there are restrictions on which properties you can buy in Austria. This can vary from province to province, but, in the Tyrol, Salzburg and Vorarlberg provinces it is often only possible to buy a property with a special Second Home (Zweitwohnsitz) status. For non-EU citizens, a consultation with a lawyer is useful to understand your individual situation.
If you are the owner of an EU company then it is possible to buy in Austria, through your company name.
What is the purchase process in Austria?
The purchase process in Austria is very straightforward.
Research the market and seek advice on the perfect ski resort to suit your requirements. Discuss your wishes with one of Lindforth’s mountain property finding experts. We know all the ski resorts extremely well and are here to help.
2. Site visit or property inspection.
Arrange to visit Austria to view the properties that you are interested in. We will set up all your appointments with estate agents, developers, banks, tax advisors, etc., and send you a personalised itinerary with a link to Google Maps so you can see your journey. There is still plenty to see if you are buying your ski property off-plan. We can take you to see some completed properties by the same developer as well as showrooms. We will recommend hotels, restaurants, and activities to do so you can really explore everything the region has to offer.
3. Make your Offer to Purchase (Kaufanbot)
Once you have decided you want to buy, the first step is usually to sign an Offer to Purchase document (Kaufanbot). This document will be prepared by your estate agent or the property developer and is essentially a pre-contract. The document outlines the property details, the price, the purchase schedule, as well as the purchase taxes and fees. Once signed, the property is taken off the market and reserved for you. This document is legally binding but does not need to be notarised or signed at an embassy.
4. Sign your purchase contracts
The notary will draw up your purchase contract (Kaufvertrag) and all additional documentation required to transfer the legal ownership. This usually takes four to six weeks. Then, you can visit the notary’s office in Austria to sign your contract. Alternatively, you can sign and legalise your purchase contracts in the Austrian Embassy in your own city.
All monies concerning the sale (price and fees) will pass through the notary’s escrow account.
New build properties are paid for in stages in line with the construction progress.
Alternatively, if you are buying a ski property that is already built, the notary simply takes the full payment for the property and the purchase costs into their escrow account, ready to be transferred to the seller. There is no deposit or staged payments when you pay for an existing ski property.
Payment & construction schedules of new-build property in Austria
New-build ski properties are paid for in stages and all payments are made through the notary who acts as trustee for your money. The instalments are made into a client account and the payments for each stage are only released from the client account when an independent surveyor has inspected each stage and officially signed it off with the notary. This gives everyone security as the developer knows not to start building until the client’s monies are in the notary’s client account and likewise buyers know that no monies will leave the account until works have been completed.
Purchase payments will typically be something like this:
- 15% at start of building works
- 35% on completion of the shell and roof
- 20% on completion of plumbing and electrical installations
- 12% on completion of the façade & windows
- 12% on completion of the property
- 4% on hand over of keys
- 2% after three years (or after developer providing a bank guarantee or insurance to the purchaser)
In the Alps, construction only takes place during the summer months. This is because the ground is frozen and covered in snow during the winter months, and therefore construction is impossible. Mountain property developers are very efficient and build an apartment building or several chalets in one summer season.
The benefit to new-build property buyers is that during the winter you can sign your purchase contracts and secure your property but will not start making payments until construction starts in the spring.
What construction guarantees are there?
All new-build Austrian properties have a 30-year building guarantee against all building defects, and developers will often guarantee building fixtures for two years.
What are the purchase costs in Austria?
Purchase costs for buying a property in Austria work out at approximately 9.6% of the property price. If you buy a Tourist Residence, the purchase costs are calculated on the gross property price. Fees are calculated as follows:
- Purchase Tax ‘Stamp Duty’ – 3.5% of the gross price
- Registration in the Land Registry – 1.1% of gross price
- Notary’s fees – between 1.5 and 2% of gross price + VAT
- Local estate agent’s fees – 3% of the gross price + VAT
- Court costs, administration fees – approx. 150 euros
Buying in a company name
You can buy a ski property in Austria in the name of an EU company. For example, buying in an EU company name may be beneficial, if you want to buy the property with more than 2 people.
You should seek expert advice as there are several Austrian or European company structures to consider. We are happy to introduce you to a lawyer or a tax advisor in this regard. Please contact us if you would like to learn more about buying a property in Austria in a company name.
Buying with a mortgage
If you want to take a mortgage in Austria, it is possible to borrow up to 50% – 60% of the purchase price. Banks will not lend across borders, so if you want to buy with a mortgage in Austria then you will need to borrow from an Austrian bank. Variable interest rates are around 2%, and it is possible to take fixed rate mortgages. We can recommend banks in all ski resorts as we have contacts throughout Austria.
Banks will charge a set-up fee and this is usually around 2% of the value of the loan. They also charge an appraisal fee of 0.5%. You will also need to pay the notary a 1.5% fee of the amount of the mortgage to register the mortgage lender in the land registry.
We would be happy to recommend a mortgage broker specialising in Austrian property finance to help you.
Do I have to rent my property?
When you own a Second Home (Zweitwohnsitz) property, there is no obligation to rent your property out. You can use your property privately as much as you like, or you can choose to rent it out.
When you own a Tourist Residence, you are required to rent your property out in a “buy-to-let” model and can achieve a great rental yield.
Across The Alps, rental yields vary between 3% – 5%. Your rental income depends on a variety of factors such as the property’s location, the resort, facilities on offer, quality & cost of rental services. And of course, which weeks you rent out and which weeks you use yourself will affect your yield.
A ski chalet can make a wonderful investment, offering regular rental income, growth in the property value over time, and of course, a great lifestyle for your family.
Austria is a particularly good place to buy a ski property as a rental investment, due to its perfect dual-season altitude. The summer season is just as popular as the winter season in many Austrian resorts, so owners can really rent out all year-round, rather than just in the ski season.
If you buy in an apartment building or chalet village, the costs of maintaining communal areas are usually be divided between the owners.
The running costs of a ski chalet or apartment will cost approximately €3 – €5/m2 per month. This will cover snow clearance, rubbish removal, water rates, building insurance, local property taxes, cleaning and lighting for any communal areas, maintenance of the gardens, and more.
If you buy a ski property with spa facilities, e.g., swimming pool, the running costs usually increase to approx. €7 – €11/m2 per month.
These expenses don’t include your personal usage of gas and electricity. This will vary depending on how much energy you use.
VAT rebate for Tourist Residences or rental investment properties
With some Tourist Residences or rental investment properties in Austria, the final purchase price you pay depends on the ratio of personal use to rental use. You would initially pay the gross price for your property and then you would reclaim the VAT. This process usually takes approx. 2-3 months.
How much VAT you can reclaim is dependent on how much you use the property yourself. If you have no personal use whatsoever then you would be eligible for the full 20% VAT back. There are several other factors which also need to be considered, such as how much finance you would be taking on the property etc., But we would connect you with specialist tax advisors who can explain this to you and arrange for the refund on your behalf. It is a straight-forward procedure, and it is even possible to take a bridging loan from the bank to pay the VAT in the first instance if required.
Please contact us if you would like to learn more about buying a ski property in Austria and reclaiming the VAT.
Rental income tax in Austria
If you buy a Tourist Residence or rental investment property in Austria, you will be required to pay income tax on your rental income profits. To calculate your taxable income, your accountant may offset some allowances. For example, the interest you pay on your mortgage can be written off against rental income profits and you can also write off up to 10% of the costs of your furniture as depreciation against your rental income.
Income tax rates payable on profits:
0 euros – 11,000 euros 0%
11,001 euros – 18,000 euros 25%
18,001 euros – 31,000 euros 35%
31,001 euros – 60,000 euros 42%
60,001 euros – 90,000 euros 48%
90,001 euros – 50%
Your income tax obligations in your home country also must be considered so please inform your tax advisor that you are renting out an investment property in Austria, as they will also need to see what profits you have made over the year and make sure that you do not pay tax twice on the same income. If you need help finding a tax advisor, we can put you in touch with Austrian tax advisors specialising in rental property.
When you rent your property, you will need to charge your guests tourism tax for the nights they spend in your property. This tax rate varies from resort to resort but as a rough guide it is somewhere between 1 and 3 euros per night per person for each guest over the age of 14 years.
Capital gains tax
The housing market in Austria has been subject to a number of controls in order to keep house prices within reach of locals, especially in the tourist areas. Capital Gains Tax of 30% will apply to any profits you have made on your property (effective since Jan 1, 2016).
Inheritance tax has been abolished in Austria (effective since August 1, 2008)
Selling your ski property in Austria
There are no restrictions when selling your property in Austria. You can sell your ski property whenever you like.
If your property is a rental investment and has a rental management team in place, the new buyer can simply continue the rental agreement. This can be a benefit for the new owner because the rental investment property is already up and running.
Disclaimer: Whilst we make every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information we provide, we are not tax advisors or lawyers. We are reliant upon information provided by third parties and therefore, the company, its employees and agents will not be responsible for any loss however arising, from the use of, or reliance upon this information. Legal advice or tax advice must be received by a professional Lawyer or tax advisor and we are happy to put you in touch with companies if you would like further information. These particulars and the company website do not form part of any offer or contract and must not be relied upon as statements or representations of fact. Registered Office: 19 Gloucester Place Mews, London W1U 8BF, Registered in England. No. 12829586.