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Siegwart German American Law

Buying, selling, owning, and renting real Estate in Germany and the United States is vastly different. Holger Siegwart, Esq. has practiced law in Germany for many years before he was also admitted as an attorney in the United States. He advised hundreds of clients on real estate matters, from negotiation to litigation in Germany. Based on this unique expertise and experience SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW advises US-based clients on German real estate law and provides competent representation for individual and corporate clients.

  • Buy and Sell Real Estate in Germany: Buying and selling real Estate in Germany and the United States is not the same. The way title to property is transferred and registered, purchase agreements, removal of contingencies, remedies, and financing are very different. SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW offers comprehensive advice for owners and prospective buyers and provides a step-by-step explanation of the real estate purchase process under German law.

  • Real Estate Purchase Agreements: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW negotiates, drafts, and enforces real estate purchase agreements under German law, both residential and commercial. Bilingual contracts are available. Our service also includes review and translation of existing agreements.

  • Formal Requirements: Agreements affecting title to real property in Germany must be notarized in order to be valid. Notarization is a complicated and more expensive process in Germany. Ownership is not transferred until the notarized agreement is recorded. Enforcement of formal requirements is strict.

  • Properties in Escrow: There are no title companies in Germany. The official language is German. SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW assists parties to real estate purchase agreements in Germany with removal of contingencies, inspections, disclosures, timely payments, etc. We coordinate transactions with notaries and escrow officers in Germany for our clients.

  • Real Estate Finance in Germany: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW represents clients in negotiations with banks and lenders in Germany. Our ability to communicate with them in their native language and our experience with their legal and financial environment is a valuable asset at the negotiation table. We draft and review agreements with lenders and investors.

  • Real Estate Litigation in Germany: Real Estate Litigation is very different in Germany. Holger Siegwart Esq. has many years of real estate litigation experience in Germany and is familiar with real estate law and litigation in the US. Based on this unique expertise and experience SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW represents clients in real estate litigation in Germany with regard to defects, dangerous conditions, failure to disclose and fraud, default, non-payment, other instances of breach of contract, quiet tile actions, encumbrances and boarder disputes. Our clients are provided with a litigation budget.

  • Remedies: Germany is a civil law jurisdiction. Available remedies and their requirements significantly differ from common law. It is absolutely critical to understand these differences before you respond to a breach of contract. Moreover, the election of remedies is subject to strict formal requirements. Ill-advised action or election of one remedy may waive other, more favorable remedies, or amount to a waiver of breach, and trigger additional undesired consequences. Specific performance is the rule, not the exception. Damages and injunctive relief are available.

  • Termination, Rescission and Avoidance of Real Estate Purchase Agreements follow different rules under German law. They are subject to formal requirements which are strictly enforced. If you are not familiar with the availability, requirements, and consequences of these and other remedies you may not only lose important rights but also become liable for damages, even if you were not the breaching party.

  • Realtors in Germany: We review and explain listing agreements under German law and represent clients in disputes with German realtors, e.g. disputes over commissions, exclusivity of listing agreements, breach of realtors’ duties, termination of listing agreements, etc.

  • Costs: The real estate purchase process in Germany is very different, and so are costs and fees buyers and sellers of real estate will typically incur in Germany. We provide comprehensive advice and review your bills.

  • Real Property Taxes: Real Estate transactions are subject to a transfer tax in Germany (Grunderwerbssteuer) of 3.5% of the purchase price. The tax rate is set by the states (e.g. Hamburg and Berlin currently charge 4.5%). Payment is due within one month after the purchase agreement is notarized and ownership will not be transferred (i.e. the agreement will not be recorded) until the transfer tax is paid. Real Estate ownership is taxed separately (Grundsteuer). Rates are set by cities and municipalities. They average roughly one percent of the property value assessed for tax purposes (which may be significantly lower than the current market value).

  • Inheritance: If you have inherited real property in Germany your first question will be how much it is worth. Then you will wonder what to do with it and how deal with inheritance tax, transfer of title, and other legal issues in Germany. The situation may be even more complicated if you are not the only heir and have to prepare for disputes with co-owners who may already be in possession. SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW advices clients on all issues related to real property inherited in Germany and represents heirs before government agencies and courts in Germany.

  • Estate Planning for Real Property in Germany: German courts and government agencies generally apply German law to real property located in Germany. If you own real property in Germany your estate planning must consider German law in order to avoid costly surprises and difficulties in the future. Please note that German law does not provide for trusts, in particular living trusts.

  • Appraisals: Our office has long standing working relationships with appraisers qualified to determine the value of real property located in Germany. We can communicate with them in their native language and are familiar with the environment in which they work. Real estate appraisals are usually more expensive in Germany.

  • Lease agreements: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW negotiates, drafts, and enforces real estate lease agreements under German law, both residential and commercial. Bilingual contracts are available. Our service also includes review and translation of existing lease agreements.

  • German Landlord/Tenant Law: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW provides comprehensive advice on German landlord/tenant law. Laws on issues such as capital, improvements, damages, security deposit, rent control, late payments, termination of tenancy, and eviction are extremely tenant friendly under German law. Residential evictions are more complicated and take significantly longer. Moreover, many tenants have insurance to cover their attorney fees in eviction proceedings. Most Judges are tenant friendly.

  • Homeowners‘Insurance in Germany: You must protect your property against, damage loss, and liability. This is especially critical in a foreign country where you do not know all the rules and are much more likely to suffer damage or incur liability. We are able to review your existing coverage and advice you on coverage needs for real property in Germany. We can help you establish sufficient insurance coverage, if necessary (commission free). If you have suffered a loss or someone is making a claim against you, we will deal with your insurance carrier and third party claimants.

  • Title search in Germany: Germany has a different system of recording title to ownership, and encumbrances. We perform title searches and related investigations for our clients in Germany

  • Foreclosures in Germany: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW enforces civil judgments in Germany, including foreclosure of real property. We also defend debtors and owners of property in Germany against foreclosures, levies, and liens under German law. Holger Siegwart, Esq. has practiced law in Germany for many years and is familiar with creditor and debtor strategies, and tools to delay or even avoid loss of rights and property.

  • Legal opinions: SIEGWART GERMAN AMERICAN LAW provides legal opinions on German real estate law and German landlord tenant law. Bilingual and comparative opinions are available.