There has never been a better time to buy a flat in Poland!
With its low cost of living, improving infrastructure and attractive job opportunities, Poland is the place to be right now. Foreign nationals purchased over 7000 apartments in Poland in 2018, almost 50 per cent more than in 2017.
This step-by-step guide to buying a flat in Poland applies to citizens of the EEA, EFTA and Switzerland. They are all entitled to acquire any kind of real estate in Poland without a permit. This guide is particularly useful for those who are cash buyers.
I was heavily engaged in the process of buying a flat in Gdańsk throughout the first part of 2019. I bought a flat that was not mortgaged.
Ready to buy a flat in Poland?
Let’s dive into the steps to make it work:
Step 1 – Ready to buy a flat in Poland? – The hunt for your dream property
The most obvious way to search for flats is online. If you want to buy a flat in Poland, the following sites lead the way with offers:
I am not in any way affiliated to otodom, but I find this site to be the most user-friendly. Moreover, it always appears to have the most up-to-date offers. Otodom also seems to be the go-to place for people who wish to sell privately without an estate agent. Indeed, I bought my flat directly through the owner.
During my search for a flat in Gdańsk, I cooperated with a few estate agents. My experience was quite positive. Estate agents tend to carry out most of the bureaucratic procedures for buyers in Poland. Therefore, it can be fruitful to liaise with estate agents, especially if they only take commission from the seller. They are rare but do exist.
If an estate agent demands a commission fee, it should be possible to negotiate it. Thus, you may well be able to pay less than the standard 3% commission rate.
Step 2 – Negotiate the price
So, you have found the flat of your dreams?
The next step is to think about how to pitch an offer to the seller.
Well-maintained and relatively new flats are in high demand in Gdańsk, particularly in the area I live in now. Therefore, I didn’t want to make too low an offer. I’m convinced that a few other people were interested in buying the flat.
The seller’s asking price did not include the two parking spaces in the underground garage. Neither did it include the “komórka lokatorska”. This is a separate storage unit in the underground garage in which dwellers can store anything from paint to bicycles. Developers sometimes place these storage units on the same floor as a resident’s flat.
I pitched my offer in such a way that I would pay the seller’s asking price plus a bit extra. He accepted the offer without hesitation. In reality, I got one parking space and the storage unit for free. Overall, I was very satisfied. Underground parking spaces in big cities in Poland are not exactly cheap. I recently rented out both spaces as I don’t plan to buy a car yet.
During the negotiation phase, I told the owner that I wanted him to leave ALL the furniture, appliances and pictures. I expected him to be shocked. However, I had a right to ask just like he had a right to say “no”. In the end, he agreed to my proposal.
All in all, both sides were satisfied. I also avoided paying a commission fee to an estate agent, thus saving me around 5,000 EUR.
Step 3 – Check the property
Every property has its own land register. This is an electronic database (Elektroniczne Księgi Wieczyste) available to the general public to check the status of a property. You need to request the appropriate register number from the seller.
If you do not know Polish, it’s worth hiring a lawyer to check the register and guide you through home-buying process.
The land register is divided into four sections:
Here you will find details about the property itself (address, status, type, etc.)
This section contains details related to ownership. You will be able to verify whether or not the seller is the owner and has the legal right to sell the property.
In this section, you can find out whether there are special rights belonging to third parties. These might be servitudes – such as the right for neighbours to use an internal road, or permission for an electricity company to carry out repairs nearby . It is also crucial to check that there are no special servitudes for any tenants connected with the property. The last thing you need is for a stranger to have the right to dwell in your property!
Section III also contains information on any debt-enforcement procedures against the owner and official warnings about legal issues regarding the property title.
Here you will find information regarding any outstanding debts or mortgages.
The above points direct refer to properties purchased on the secondary market (rynek wtórny). Newly built houses are not provided with a land register. However, it is possible to check whether a developer took out a loan to construct a building through accessing the general ground land register.
Other documents required to buy a flat in Poland:
When talking with vendors, you should also ask them to provide you with the following documents:
1) previous notarial deeds, including corrections, proving the acquisition of the apartment;
2) certified copy of the entry in the Land (and Mortgage) Register (wypis z rejestru gruntów i budynków);
3) a copy of the property’s records (wypis z kartoteki lokali);
4) statement from the Housing Association confirming the current status of due payments in relation to the property (czynsz);
5) City statement/decision on property tax.
All other necessary documents will be demanded by the public notary.
It would be a prudent move to hire someone who is savvy in property maintenance to check the condition of the flat you wish to buy. There are companies that specialise in inspecting the condition of walls, as well as water, power and gas facilities. The cost of such an inspection depends on the size of the flat but it should not amount to more than 400 PLN.
I skipped the inspection process as my flat is in a new building constructed by a well-known developer in Tri-City. Nevertheless, trust your instincts if you’re unsure about the developer and state of the building or apartment.
Step 4 – Signing the preliminary contract
The preliminary agreement (Umowa przedwstępna sprzedaży) guarantees that both the buyer and the seller promise to fulfil their contractual obligation. In other words, the buyer agrees to purchase the property at the specified price, and within a set timeframe. The seller agrees to sell you the property under the previously stipulated provisions.
At this stage, you should also make an advance payment, or deposit, to the seller. The amount of the deposit depends on the negotiating parties.
A key point that you need to be fully aware of is that there are TWO types of advance payments:
(a) “zaliczka” – this type of deposit is fully-refundable and makes it possible for each party to withdraw from the preliminary agreement;
(b) “zadatek” – this type of deposit makes the buyer more bound to the agreement as cancelling results in the loss of the deposit. If the seller wishes to withdraw from the preliminary agreement, he or she would have to return DOUBLE THE AMOUNT of the deposit to the buyer.
Useful legal advice with regard to signing a preliminary agreement and paying a deposit:
During the period the notary officials were compiling the preliminary agreement, my lawyer communicated the following very helpful advice to me:
The amount of the deposit depends on negotiating parties. I would say that 10% was adequate provided the preliminary sale agreement was signed under notary deed form (not only certified by notary but in duly notary deed form that allows you to demand the apartment to be transferred by the court verdict if the seller failed). If the seller offers just a written form for the preliminary contract (that will not give the buyer the right of demanding the transfer in front of the court), pln 10k will be more reasonable. In any case, the pre-contract should be signed prior to the transfer of any deposit.
No matter what form the pre-contract gets the deposit (provided it was called in the agreement as “zadatek”) shall be returned double to the buyer if the seller fails to sign a final contract or will be lost by the buyer if he fails. If the deposit is called “zaliczka” it should be just returned to the buyer if any party fails to sign the contract.
Agreeing on a date for the final contract:
When agreeing on a final date for the final contract and the eventual transfer of the remaining sum of money to the seller, make sure that you give yourself enough time to arrange any formalities and, if necessary, take out a mortgage from a bank. This usually takes a bit longer for foreigners – around two months.
One month should not make too much difference to your or the seller’s life. Hence, it’s worth giving yourself some extra breathing space. In other words, three months might be more suitable.
I did not have to take out a mortgage. However, I still gave myself two months to transfer foreign currency to Poland, withdraw it from my bank account and exchange it into Polish złoty at an exchange office.
What’s the best way to draw up the preliminary contract?:
It is possible to sign a preliminary contract in two ways. The first way, which I recommend, is signing the agreement by means of a notary deed. Although you might have to pay a notary fee of between 1000 to 2000zl, depending on the price of the property, it is far more reassuring to know that the whole process is being securely supervised.
When it comes to buying a flat from a developer on the primary market (rynek pierwotny), it is obligatory to sign a notary deed. This agreement, called umowa deweloperska, contains plenty of information, provisions and appendices designed to protect buyers.
Another way to compile a preliminary agreement is for the buyer to sign a regular bilateral civil agreement with the seller. This is done without any intermediary. In order to protect yourself from any dubious contractual clauses, you can always come up with your own version of the preliminary agreement.
Make sure that the notary includes the following in the preliminary contract: “wolny od jakichkolwiek ciężarów, ograniczeń i roszczeń osób trzecich”. The seller must guarantee that there are no hidden debts or third-party stakes in the property.
Step 5 – Financing
It is very straightforward to buy an apartment in Poland with cash. You have to pay a specified amount to the seller under the conditions agreed in the preliminary agreement.
If you wish to take out a mortgage, you have to apply for a loan in a bank. However, it’s possible that not every bank will authorise your application. Therefore, it’s wise to apply to two or three banks at once.
People without Polish citizenship are not necessarily discriminated against, but banks give a decision based on specific conditions. In reality, if you have a residence permit in Poland and a full work contract, it should not be an issue to get a mortgage. The process usually takes around two months.
Step 6 – Signing the final buy/sell agreement, other financial obligations and finishing things off
The final stage is to sign the buy/sell agreement with the seller. Irrespective of whether the transaction takes place on the primary or secondary market, you must sign the final agreement in the form of a notary deed.
This is the fee for the services of a notary public and for the preparation of a document (agreement) in the form of a notarial deed. The buyer usually pays the notarial fee for the final contract.
The maximum notarial fee is defined by law, and depends on the value of the subject of the notarial act:
- lower than 3,000 PLN – PLN 100;
- from 3,000 to 10,000 PLN – PLN 100 + 3% on the surplus over 3,000 PLN;
- from 10,000 to 30,000 PLN – PLN 310 + 2% on the surplus over 10,000 PLN;
- between 30,000 and 60,000 PLN – PLN 710 + 1% on the surplus over 30,000 PLN;
- from 60,000 to 1,000,000 PLN – PLN 1010 + 0,4% on the surplus over 60,000 PLN;
- between 1,000,000 and 2,000,000 PLN – PLN 4770+ 0,2% on the surplus over 1,000,000 PLN;
- over 2,000,000 PLN – PLN 6,770 + 0.25 % on the surplus over 2,000,000 PLN, however not more than 10,000 PLN.
The above are net amounts, minus 23% VAT.
After signing the sales agreement for a flat on the secondary market, the buyer must pay a tax on civil law transactions. The rate is 2% of the value of the purchased real property.
A VAT rate of 8% applies to apartments bought directly from a developer.
A 23% rate applies to parking spots.
It is up to the notary office to create an entry in the land and mortgage register. This costs PLN 200.
Finally, the buyer should notify the local municipal or communal office competent for the location of the property regarding the change of ownership.
That’s it. It has never been simpler to buy a flat in Poland ;-