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English-german glossary for real estate terminology

Here you find useful vocabulary for orientation in the German real estate alphabetically ordered in German. Vocabulary is translated or sets to facilitate the understanding of real estate in German. Every explanation of words in German is given in English to help you in your research.


Abgeschlossenheitsbescheinigung: certificate of self-containment – In German law, a Certificate of Self-containment confirms that apartments, flats or units in a multiplex building, even where there is a part-ownership in place, are structurally independent from other rooms and dwellings.  For the purposes of the Condominium Act, this is achieved by walls and ceilings.  Also, it is essential to have an entrance which can be locked.  The certificate is provided by the German building supervisory board, they will also approve a construction and grant building licenses.

Altbau: old, traditional building

Angebot: offer

Anzeige: announce

Aufzug: elevator, lift


Badezimmer: bathroom

Ballungsgebiete: district with a regulation for the increase of the rent.

Baubeschreibung: construction specification – The construction specification contains comprehensive information on the structure to be built. It not only lists the materials which will be used, but explains how the work will be carried out. If the build is financed by private investors the construction specification forms part of the documentation that the home buyer or builder should provide to their bank to obtain credit. Therefore it is an essential element of the building contract. Moreover, it is vital if a section of land, or anything else connected with the construction, is being bought from the builder.

Baufinanzierung: construction financing

Baugeld: money to build

Baugenehmigung: building permit, planning permission

Baugrundstück: building plot, buildable land

Baujahr: year of construction

Baulasten: charges for construction

Baulastenverzeichnis: list of charges for construction

Bauplanung: planning of construction

Baulexikon: glossary of construction

Ballungsgebiete: district with a regulation for the increase of the rent.

Betriebskosten: Service charges – The service charge refers to the costs of running and maintaining the property as a whole. This can include, but is not limited to, heating, repairs, liabilities and housing tax.

Bezirk: district, area, quarter

Bezugsfrei ab: available from (date), it gives you a possible date of moving in.


Darlehen: to borrow

Darlehensgebühr: Loan fee – Once a loan is arranged, the fee for this service will be payable. The amount owing will vary, but is agreed in advance between the company providing the credit, the lender, and the borrower. In general, the calculation is presented as a percentage of the total loan amount. Frequently, the amount is simply added on to the loan account. The payment schedule is then worked out on a monthly basis, with the total amounts representing both a proportion of the interest and a portion of the actual repayment. The loan fee will be added to the interest amount as this relates to all the costs incurred by the loan.

Darlehenzinsen: interest of a loan

Dienstbarkeit: property services


Einbauküche: kitchen, already furnished kitchen

Eigenkapital: Equity capital – Equity capital refers to the amount of money a buyer supplies from their own funds in order to purchase the property. This can be in the form of savings or cash.

Eigentümer: owner

Eigentümergemeinschaft – WEG: Community association – When people buy a home in a housing complex, they become part of a community association. This is a legal requirement and the association cannot be annulled. Each resident is part of any decision making process and they have external representation in the form of a trustee – known as a WEG trustee.

Eigentumswohnung:  owner-occupied flat, condominium, condo

Einzug: moving in

Energieausweis: Energy pass – Buildings are assigned a category according to how energy efficient they are and this is represented by their energy pass. A good energy rating is considered a mark of quality in terms of real estate.

Erdegeschoss: ground floor, first floor

Etage: floor

Etageanzahl: number of floors in a building


Fahrad: bike

Fälligkeitsmitteilung: official roquets to transfer the buying price

Fassade: facade

Fertighaus: prefabricated house

Fläche: area, surface

Finanzierungsplan: Financing plan – When a buyer asks for credit they will do so with the backing of a finance plan. This enables them to work out how much they will be obliged to repay per month and whether they can realistically afford these instalments.

Fremdkapital: Borrowed capital – The financial term, Borrowed capital, refers to the funds which may be borrowed from a building society, bank, or a third party and form part of a loan taken out to buy a property.


Garage: garage

Gehoben: excellente quality

Gemeinschaftseigentum: Collective property – Collective property encompasses all the communal areas of a building which are not included in individual ownership; this may be the stairs, boiler rooms and laundry area. Each buyer has the right to use these areas when their purchase is finalised and they move in.

Gesamtmiete: total rent, all charges included

Gewerbe: business area

Grundsteuer: property tax

Grundstück: property, premises

Grundschuldbestellung: ordering a mortgage

Grundbuch: land register, cadastre – The ownership details, the rights of each party and any charges are included in the Land Register; this could be listed in either electronic or written form. This property record is available to the general public and incorporates various pieces of information on specific properties and the owners.

Grundbuchauszug: extract of land register

Grundbuchblatt: document where the property is mentioned in the land property

Grunderwerbsteuer: tax on buying a flat


Haus: house, building

Haus kaufen: to buy a hous, a building

Haustier: pet

Hausverwaltung: property management

Hausverwalter: company doing the property management

Heizkosten: heating costs

Heizungsart: type of heating

Hypothek: mortgage

Hypothekendarlehen: Mortgage loan – Mortgage loans are repaid over an extended period of time, they are provided as collateral for a mortgage or land charge. This presents the least possible risk for any lender and ensures interest rates remain low for a borrower, compared to other loan options. The collateralisation is completed by noting the mortgage or land charge in the Land Register.

Hypothekenzinsen: interest of mortgage


Immobilien: real estate – The term real estate comes from the Latin phrase ‘immobilis’, meaning ‘motionless’. For legal and economic purposes, properties and buildings are also referred to as an ‘immoveable asset’. To describe a property, the real estate industry also uses the German word for ‘immovable’ – Liegenschaft.

Immobilienbewertung: evaluation of real estate

Immobiliendarlehen: real estate loan

Immobilienmakler: real estate agent

Immobilienpreis: real estate price

Immobilienwert: real estate value

Innenhof: inter courtyard

Instandhaltungsrücklage: Maintenance reserve – The maintenance reserve is a pool of cash which is put aside in case of future problems with the building, like defects or damages. It may also be used for improvements. For condominiums, the manager will gather payments at an owners meeting – the amount requested will be agreed on beforehand. This is a legal requirement. Establishing an adequate financial provision is an administrative task and payments are often factored into common charges.


Jahresabrechnung: Annual statement – Each year an annual statement is issued which compares the incoming and outgoing funds of the property manager responsible for the home owners association. This document must include a complete settlement of any costs and individual invoices relating to separate residences. Costs can include community lighting, waste disposal, water and electricity.


Kaltmiete: basic rent, without charges

Kapitalanlageimmobilie: Real estate investment – Real estate investment refers to buying a property as an investment, rather than for personal use.

Katasteramt: Land registry office – The Land Registry Office takes the measurements of each property and keeps this information at the public registry. The largest of these land registry offices are called ‘Gemarkung’ in German. The specific area measured is known as the plot (cadastral parcel) or land lot. Prior to buying a property, it is possible to view the cadastral map in a land registry office. It shows information on usage, plot numbers and other details about the location.

Kaufen: buy, purchase

Kaufpreis: purchasing price

Kaufvertragsentwurf: draft of selling contract, bill sale

Kaution: deposit

Keller: basement

Kiez: quarter

Kinderzimmer: child’s room

Kosten: cost

Küche: kitchen (room)

Kündigung: cancellation

Kappungsgrenze: limite for rent increase in specific area


Lageplan: Site plan – The site plan shows how big a property is within a location and in comparison to its surroundings. To request a building application, a site plan is necessary as it illustrates the demarcations and boundaries of the plot or building.

Leben: to live

Löschungsbewilligung: Consent of deletion – By signing the Consent of Deletion the credit provider agrees that when the final loan payment is made, the mortgage is wiped from the land register. This document is essential for legally ensuring the land register wipes the mortgage and must be presented in the form of official documentation.


Makler: real estate agent

Markt: market

Massivhaus: whole building

Mieten: to rent

Mieter: tenant, lease holder

Mietkauf: lease-purchase agreement

Mietkaution: Security deposit – Usually, the security deposit equals the equivalent of three months’ rent. It is provided to the landlord as a form of collateral, enabling them to settle future arrears or damages. When the contract comes to an end, the deposit, along with any accrued interest, is given back to the tenant who has left.

Mietpreis: renting price

Mietrecht: renting law

Mietspiegel: Rent index – The rent index gives an idea about the current rents being charged on the private market. This allows prospective tenants to find out where prices are highest.

Mietvertrag: lease agreement, rental agreement

Mietwohnung: apartment for renting

Miteigentumsanteil: Co-ownership share – Co-ownership share refers to an owner’s share of the entire common property, this may include the stairs or other aspects of the real estate. The details are included in the Declaration of Division.

Modernisieren: to modernise

Mustervorlage: sample


Nachmieter: next tenant

Nachbarn: neighbor

Nachbarschaft: neighbours

Nebenkosten: extra costs

Neubau: new building, construction, house

Notar: Notary public – A Notary Public guarantees the authenticity of real estate and other contracts; they must be unbiased and work in confidence. The Notary Public is a solicitor, this is necessary to ensure both parties are aware of any legal obligations attached to a sales contract. He or she must advise both parties impartially and also confirm that they understand fully the sales contract they are signing.

Notaranderkonto: Notary public’s escrow account – A solicitor working as a Notary Public can establish a temporary account into which the costs of a sale are transferred. This means the money is not combined with any other amounts and keeps the process transparent. It also enables the legal side of the sale and assists the transfer of a property to the buyer.

Nutzfläche: Usable area – Usable areas are those like the loft, cellar or stairs which cannot be classed as living areas.


Objektrendite: Property return – Property return is a real estate industry term. It refers to the net income a property could generate, in relation to its cost. In this way potential investors can decided whether it would be in their best interests to buy. The higher the property return, the more beneficial the investment could be. It should be remembered that initial higher returns can be depleted by value-preserving properties.

Objektzustand: stand/condition of the property


Planungskosten: Planning costs – The planning costs of a building will include the architects and structural engineers’ charges, as well as those of any other people involved at the planning stage. These fees are seen as part of the entire building costs.

Preis: price

Privat Anbieter: private seller

Provision für Mieter: commission fee to be paid by the tenant

Provision: Courtage – The term Courtage refers to the monies paid to a broker as their commission. It is paid to the relevant agent on completion of a contract, for their services in negotiating the contract.


Refurbishment: Refurbishing a property is a good way to upgrade it; the changes may include creative work, optimisation, repositioning or sustainable modernisation.

Renovieren: to renovate, to refurbish

Renovierung: Renovation – Measures which are undertaken in order to maintain a building are known as renovations. They can include cosmetic work or the repair of damages which have resulted from use – these will be mentioned in the rental contract.


Sachwert: Real value – The Real Value of a property is the value which includes the building value, the land value and any other facilities outside. Additionally, it decides the collateral value of any owner occupied property.

Sanieren: to refurbish

Saniert: refurbished

Seitenflügel: wing (part of house)

Schlafzimmer : bedroom

Sondernutzungsrecht: Right of special use – The Right of Special use lays out the ground rules for rooms or areas which are accessed by collective owners. They refer to the gardens or terraces of ground floor dwellings or parking facilities. The Declaration of Division covers the Rights of Special Use.

Sonderumlage: Special fees – Special Fees are made for unforeseen expenses; this may be repairs which were not anticipated and are therefore not covered by the common charges.

Stellplatz: parking spot

Straße: street


Tapezieren: put up wallpaper

Teilungserklärung: Declaration of division – The Declaration of Division is a document passed to the Land Registry from the property owner, it confirms that the building is made up of co-ownership shares and these are joined to the estate separately. This document confirms the legality of both joint ownership and ownership. It also highlights which parts of the property are owned individually and which are covered by joint ownership. It lists special usage rights, such as those relating to gardens and parking spaces. The Declaration of Division is needed to create a condominium management book and to charge for co-ownership shares.

Tilgung: Repayment – The Repayment is the regular amount a borrower pays until a loan is cleared. Interest payments are also included. The term of the loan can be shortened by making higher repayments. When repayments stretch out over a long-term, the loan is referred to as a mortgage.

Treppenhaus: stairway, staircase, stairwell


Unbedenklichkeitsbescheinigung: Certificate of good standing – A Certificate of Good Standing confirms for the owners, that the buyer has met the relevant land transfer tax fee or is exempt from paying it. It further confirms that any tax matters have been dealt with before listing the details into the land register.

Unbefristeter Vertrag: unlimited contract, agreement


Vergleichsmiete: local comparable rent in a specific area

Verkaufen: to sell

Verkehrswert: Market value – The Market value of a property refers to its potential sale price; it is reached using comparisons from similar properties or other methods. It refers to the cost of a property at that particular time and in normal business conditions. The Market Value will take into account the features of a property, its location and other characteristics, but not the details of anyone’s personal relationship with the building.

Vermieten: to rent out, to lease out

Vermieter: landlord, owner

Vertrag: contract, agreement

Vermarktung: commercialisation

Verwaltung: administration

Vorkaufsrecht: Pre-emptive right – In accordance with the Pre-emptive Right, a sales contact can be closed by a third party and still leave the buyer entitled to make the purchase. The Right is mentioned in the contact beforehand, or noted within the land register. Together with the private Pre-emptive Right, certain communities use a Public Pre-emptive Right in order to buy a property.


Wertermittlung: Assessment of value – The Assessment of Value establishes a market value for any property, this will be calculated in relation to sales and the rental value. It produces a possible sales price for the property.

Wirtschaftsplan: Economic plan – The Economic Plan is worked out every year for any shared ownership property. The property manager is responsible for preparing the document and will usually have the document ready in advance. In the Economic Plan all items of income and expenses relating to the property are laid out clearly. Once they have viewed the plan, owners pay their fees – usually in advance. When the year ends, the property manager presents another report and then reimburses monies unspent or requests further funds if necessary.

WG / Wohngemeinschaft: flat share, apartment share

Wohnen: to live, reside, stay

Wohnfläche: living space, surface

Wohngeld / Hausgeld: Common charge – All members of a building’s community association must make regular payments known as a Common Charge. As per the Economic Plan all costs are factored into the Common Charge – sometimes known as the Condo Fee. If an individual owner has tenants, they can, in certain circumstances, ask them to pay it. In these cases it is referred to as “apportionable ancillary rental costs”. In the case of low earners, ‘housing allowance’ is a form of financial support which is provided by the housing office. To obtain this benefit, people should apply direct to the housing office.

Wohnung: flat, apartment

Wohnzimmer: sitting room, living room, lounge room


Umziehen: to move

Umzug: move, relocation

Umzugsunternehmen: company helping to move

Umzugskosten: cost to move


Zentralheizung: central heating

Zimmer: room

Zwangsversteigerung: sale in execution, auction

Zwischenfinanzierung: Interim financing – For short to medium term loans or funding of another nature, the term Interim Financing is used. These will often be paid off at a later date by what is known as end financing – the use of a long term loan to pay off shorter term borrowing.

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