This buying guide gives an overview of buying and owning a ski apartment or ski chalet in Austria. As with any property purchase, it is important to get expert advice.
There are no restrictions on EU citizens purchasing a ski apartment or chalet in Austria, though non-EU citizens are restricted from purchasing property in the Tyrol, Salzburg, Carinthia and Vorarlberg provinces. It is however possible to buy in the other provinces and to do this you would need to apply for a foreigner purchase permit. If you are the owner of an EU company then it is possible to buy anywhere in Austria.
For an EU national wishing to buy a ski apartment or chalet, the purchasing process is quite straightforward and occurs in the following stages:
New build properties are covered by a 30-year building guarantee against all building defects, and developers will usually guarantee building fixtures for two years.
Some new build developments in ski resorts in the Austrian Alps are designated as ‘tourism residences’ meaning that there is an obligation to rent out your property when you are not there. As an incentive, the VAT is often waived on property purchases in these residences – giving an approximate 10% discount in most cases – although the exact rules vary from project to project.
Re-sales are sold by private owners or estate agents. The buyer purchases the property freehold and is free to use, rent, renovate or sell the property.
In general all EU citizens are treated the same as Austrian buyers, although there are local legal differences that vary within the 9 Austrian states. Buying a second residence is restricted in most western states of Austria, particularly the Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Salzburg and Carynthia. It is easier to buy in Upper Austria, Lower Austria, Burgenland and Vienna.
Mayors mainly decide which properties or how many properties in a village or region are allowed to be sold for second residential use. In general existing second residences can be sold/acquired for this use again. In many regions no new second residential areas are dedicated. There are local annual taxes for second residences which are not significantly high.
Purchase of real estate in Austria by non-EU nationals is restricted, and is decided by the provincial governments. Real estate purchases by non-EU foreigners are prohibited in the provinces of Tyrol, Salzburg, Carinthia and Vorarlberg, and outside these areas, a governmental commission must approve the purchase.
This tax is standard across almost all properties sold in Austria and is charged at a rate of 3.5% of the purchase price of the ski chalet or apartment.
A fee of 1.1% of the purchase price is payable to the Land Registry (Grundbuch) upon registration.
Notary fees are charged at approximately 1-2% of the sales price of the property as well as 20% VAT.
Austrian banks will fund up to 60% of the purchase price, and usually for between 15 and 25 years. Some banks charge a set-up fee, usually around 2% of the value of the loan. There is also an appraisal fee of 0.5% and the notary's fee for registering the mortgage at the land registry is 1.5% of the mortgage amount. Read our mortgages guide for more information.
Estate agents fee is set by law at 3% - 4% of the property’s purchase price or market value plus 20% VAT. The agent’s commission is payable by both the buyer and the seller.
If you propose to use mortgage funds from your resident country (i.e. outside of Austria) to buy your property, currency risk and fluctuation must be taken into account.
Purchase payments are typically made in stages:
2% after three years (or after the developer provides a bank guarantee or insurance to the purchaser)
An annual real estate tax (Grundsteuer), payable in quarterly installments, is collected by the municipalities. The tax rate ranges from 0.4 % to 0.84 %. Taxes are based on the assessed value (Einheitswert) of the real estate, which is far below the property's market price.
Additional running costs include: utility bills, service charges associated with general maintenance.
Many resale properties in Austria are sold on the condition that they be rented out as holiday lets to ensure that beds stay full and tourism levels are maintained in ski resorts which may otherwise suffer from a low population due to the number of second homes being owned. When a property is rented to holiday-makers, income tax is payable on the rental income earned.
Taxable rental income is the excess of receipts over income-related expenses (werbungskoten). Expenses such as maintenance and repairs, depreciation, administrative expenses (including professional tax advice), interest payments and real estate tax are deductible.
If you rent your property to holidaymakers and pay the income tax for these rentals in Austria then there is an €11,000 income tax exemption per person per year. If you claim the VAT back on your purchase you will also be required to become VAT registered with the tax authorities for 20 years, but after this time you can de-register and will no longer be required to make annual tax returns. You will need to charge VAT at a rate of 10% on your rentals which can then be reclaimed each quarter on filing accounts.
Any owner who rents out their chalet or apartment must charge their guests a tourism tax for the nights they spend in your property. The tax rate varies from resort to resort, but is usually somewhere between €0.80 and €3 per night per person for each guest over the age of 14 years old.
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 25% applies to any profits you have made on your property.
Inheritance tax was abolished in Austria in 2008, though the property transfer fee of 3.5% (2% for close relatives) must be paid when a property is inherited.