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American vs. German Realtors: Navigating Apartment Renting in Germany

A Guide for PCS Families in the Kaiserslautern Military Community

Introduction

Renting an apartment in Germany offers a distinctly different experience compared to the process in the United States. We’ll highlight key considerations for military and civilian personnel undergoing a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) to Germany, offering insights into the unique rental landscape in these two countries.

 

Role in the Rental Process:

United States

In the U.S., realtors play a proactive role in the rental process. They listen attentively to clients’ needs and desires—ranging from cost, commute, floor plan preferences, to specific amenities—and utilize platforms like Zillow, Compass, Realtor.com, and Redfin to refine searches effectively. Realtors then facilitate property viewings, acting as the liaison between potential tenants and property owners.

American Realtors enjoy unrestricted access to a wide array of rental properties, unencumbered by stringent contractual obligations typically found between realtors and landlords in Germany.

Germany

In contrast, realtors in Germany tend to be less involved in the search process, a difference stemming not from personal disposition but from distinct business practices that diverge from those in the United States. This is mainly due to their compensation being linked to agreements with landlords rather than individual tenants, limiting their access primarily to properties they are contracted to represent.

For comprehensive guidance on finding long-term rentals while PCSing to Germany, we invite you to explore our detailed blog dedicated to this topic.

“Where to find your LTR”

Fees:

United States

In the U.S., realtors may charge fees to prospective tenants upon securing a rental, typically equating to one month’s rent or a portion of it. When PCSing to Germany, all personnel are required to attend a housing briefing where you are warned of potential service charges from local realtors. In my five years of experience in German real estate focusing on the American military market, it’s uncommon for realtors to charge for rental services as landlords usually bear this cost. (However, there has been a recent emergence of some property search assistance services).

Germany

In Germany, while landlords usually pay realtor fees, this can result in a lack of comprehensive realtor services tailored to renters’ specific needs. Individuals often find themselves contacting various realtors for different properties, a process that can be both time-consuming and laborious, contrasting sharply with the U.S. approach where a single realtor typically handles the entire search process.

 

Immobilien Hauf Services

At Immobilien Hauf, our commitment to our clients includes:

  • Temporary Lodging Assistance: We assist PCS individuals and families with their Temporary Lodging Arrangements (TLA), ensuring a comfortable transition.
  • Priority Access to Properties: We offer priority access to Long-Term Rental properties (LTR) that we represent, giving our clients the first choice of potential rental options.
  • Comprehensive Move-In Guidance: Our team provides thorough guidance throughout the entire move-in process, from initial viewing to finalizing the lease and performing your move-in inspection.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the experience of renting an apartment in Germany significantly differs from that in the United States. American realtors have the advantage of unrestricted access to a multitude of rental properties, unbound by the strict contractual ties often seen between German realtors and landlords.

At Immobilien Hauf, we understand these unique challenges and are dedicated to making the transition as smooth as possible for PCS individuals and families. Our aim is to bridge these differences and provide support via the blogs created within this website and our experienced staff members.