How a priority notice of conveyance can make all the difference when buying real estate
Better safe than sorry
The priority notice of conveyance:
your guarantee after the ink has dried
Signing the purchase agreement doesn't automatically make you the owner of the property – that happens once you've paid the purchase price. In order to ensure that you, the new owner of a property, actually get what you've been promised in your purchase agreement, there's a sort of legal safety net designed to protect you once you've signed the purchase agreement. The "priority notice of conveyance" (In German: Auflassungsvormerkung) guarantees that the property isn't sold to someone else or modified in any way. It's entered into the land register for the property in question and acts as a legally binding reservation. By the way, here you can find out where the somewhat unwieldy term comes from: 👇
How does it get into the land register, you ask? The notary registers it there immediately after the purchase agreement has been signed and notarized. They also remove the notice from the land register once you've paid the purchase price, thus turning the priority notice of agreement into an actual conveyance of property.
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Why the priority notice of conveyance is so important
The priority notice of conveyance is designed to protect you, the buyer, and it can be added to the land register in no time at all by your notary. But before that, the purchase agreement must be signed by all parties and notarized. Once that's out of the way, you can get the priority notice added to the land register in a matter of days. You don't actually have to ask your notary to do this, though: As long as you don't expressly say that you don't want it, the priority notice is obligatory, and your notary will take care of having it added to the land register automatically. As soon as the notice is in the land register, you can rest assured that the property will indeed be yours once you've paid the purchase price. Therefore, the priority notice of conveyance is also referred to as a "priority notice of ownership" (In German: Eigentumsvormerkung).
Without the priority notice of conveyance, you wouldn't have a 100% guarantee. In the worst-case scenario, the seller could decide to sell to someone else or have a land charge added to the land register to finance another property — leaving you with the bill. Yikes.
Adding a priority notice of conveyance to the land register: how much will it cost me?
Registering the priority notice of conveyance is part of the notary's job. And since there are fees for everything the notary does, you also have to pay for the priority notice. But the good news is that these costs aren't some additional surcharge — they're already factored into your property financing as ancillary costs.
The notary fees are regulated by the German Court and Notary Fees Act (Gerichts- und Notarkostengesetz, GNotKG), which provides a corresponding schedule of fees. The priority notice is charged at a rate of 50% of the regular fee.
Let's say you purchase an apartment for €100,000. According to the fee schedule, the associated fee would be €273. The portion of the fee that must be paid for a priority notice of conveyance is 50%, giving you a final charge of €136.50.
After the priority notice registration
Once the priority notice is registered, the final conveyance of the property is as good as done and will likely take place in a couple of weeks. Right? Well, sort of. The notary will definitely have an eye on everything that needs to be done to ensure that the transfer of the property to you actually moves forward. They will request the removal of the priority notice from the land register once every item has been taken care of. That includes making sure that you've paid the purchase price in full and, for example, that the seller has paid off any registered mortgages. Once the priority notice is removed and the conveyance of property is registered in its place, you're done: The property is yours. Now THAT feels good!
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