I’m getting many requests from international homeowners to-be and have attended a few property purchase signing sessions in the presence of the notary, the seller’s representative (usually a real estate agent) and expats with a staggering trust in the German legal system.
These meetings are usually dull and leave the buyer confused about what they actually signed. After talking to other professionals, I’ve found the safest bet for international property buyers is to find a German real estate lawyer who speaks English and let them explain and maybe even sign the contract for you.
This has three main benefits over just hiring a translator:
- A lawyer can legally represent you at the contract signing session
If you hire an interpreter, you’ll have to pay their fees and listen to the whole contract read out twice without really understanding more. If you order a certified translation of the contract and bring it to the notary, you won’t have to listen twice, but you still won’t understand much. The translation also tends to be more expensive, so why not hire a lawyer right away?
- A lawyer can give legal advice and explain contracts; a translator cannot and should not
For example, some banks will require buyers to have a translator sign that they’ve “understood the credit agreement.” Translators who know their limits will refuse these jobs. If you hire a lawyer, at least you’ll have a chance of understanding what you’re signing before some dude in a suit hands you the pen.
- Translators are not cheap
For property purchase contracts, I charge the full price of translating the contract (in writing). That’s around three invoiceable days, go figure. Travel expenses may be added, if I have to attend the contract signing.
Just because the contract is in a language you speak, it doesn’t mean it’s a language you understand. So you better find a trusted and qualified consultant before signing a six-figure deal.
Have you thought about buying in Germany? Let me know below or e-mail me!