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What is the best form of homeownership for you?

Do you want to buy the apartment or house alone or together with other people? Depending on your civil status you may be interested in various forms of homeownership..

Forms of ownership

Do you want to buy the residential property alone? Or together with your wife or your significant other? You will need to indicate, at the latest in the purchase contract, if you are buying the house alone or in co-ownership, and to what extent you and your partner will be involved in the purchase. This information will be recorded in the Land Register. The most common forms of homeownership are:

  • Sole ownership: You use your own capital to purchase the property. You may freely dispose of the property, but are also solely responsible for maintenance, damages and payment of interest to the bank.
  • Joint ownership: With this form of ownership, the owners of a property are joint owners either in accordance with a contract (such as a marriage contract or a simple partnership) or by law (usually through a community of heirs) –  and this, regardless of the amount of money either party has invested in the property. What matters is the relationship between the joint owners, such as a marriage contract. The relationship determines the stake of each party in the property. The parties of a joint ownership may not freely dispose of their shares: Decisions, as in the sale of the property, must be made jointly. 
  • Co-ownership: You share ownership with one or more other people. The co-ownership shares are recorded in the Land Register, and are generally based on the share of the price paid by each co-owner. Each owner is free to dispose of their share, but also has the duties of an owner. If an owner wants to sell their share, the other co-owners have a statutory right of pre-emption. Decisions depend on what the majority wants. Condominium is a form of co-ownership that is regulated in detail by the law. You can find more information on the website of the Homeowners' Association (website available in German).


Homeownership and civil status

Depending on your civil status you may be interested in various forms of homeownership:

Married couples

Married couples who buy a home together generally choose co-ownership. This means that the husband and wife both have a share in the ownership of the home, normally half each. Their co-ownership shares are recorded in the Land Register and they are free to dispose of them. They are jointly responsible for maintenance and repairs, and paying the mortgage. An alternative to co-ownership is a community of property, which can be set up in a marital agreement and which establishes joint ownership. For further information on the financial consequences of marriage, read the relevant page

Cohabiting couples

The law does not protect cohabiting couples when a decision has to be taken on the joint home following separation or the death of one partner. Detailed arrangements have to be made in a cohabitation agreement. You can find further information on the relevant page.

Couples in a registered partnership

Same-sex couples who have registered their partnership enjoy protection similar to married couples. A sole owner cannot freely dispose of the joint home, but needs the consent of his or her partner. You can find further information on the consequences of a registered partnership on the relevant page.