The real estate market in Germany is tough and clearly an owners' market when it comes to the popular cities like Munich, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Berlin. Tenants do not have a lot of market power and they can only negotiate on the smaller things. However, the more expensive an apartment is the more power does the tenant have as fewer tenants will compete for the apartment.
Please be aware that only the landlord will finally decide on whether he is willing to enter into a lease agreement with you. Neither can we, nor a real estate agent, guarantee that a landlord will enter into a lease agreement with you. For permanent accommodation a meeting in person is vital - for both sides, as you will also wish to see your future apartment before moving in.
There are a couple of players whose services you should know:
THE REAL ESTATE AGENT
The estate agent will be contacted by landlords to present their property in the best possible way, he advises on the maximum rent the owner can get for the object, makes professional photos, collects and compiles the legally required information and publishes it on the internet. He than shows the property to interested parties, collects their background information on financial solidity, sets up the lease agreement and mostly is present during the handover of the object to the tenant. By nature a real estate agent will only offer the objects he acquired from the landlords and not those of other estate agents. In less urban areas of Germany the estate agent is paid by the owner, however, in Hamburg the owners' can force this payment onto the tenant. The usual fee is 2,38 cold rents (incl. VAT). There are several hundreds of real estate agents in Hamburg, most of them offering < 10 objects at a time.
REAL ESTATE ADMINISTRATION COMPANIES
There are a couple of big real estate companies with 1000s of apartments. They often ordered a company to take care of their apartments. These companies undertake that necessary repairs are taken care of, that bell signs are exchanged and they also take care of take over and hand backs of apartments. Often they would also publish empty apartments on the internet and make the visitation appointments. Their fee is again in Hamburg often forced onto the future tenant, however, the fee is much less than for the real estate agent (around 200 - 300 EUR). If an administration company is involved, a real estate agent will not be involved.
Since the recent change in law a lot of landlords publish their property on the internet themselves, or have their cancelling tenant overtake this task. In such case, again there will be no real estate agent involved. However, a real estate administration company may be involved. No extra fees involved here.
Private landlords are sometimes difficult to reach via phone and not as reliable in deleting their ad on all portals when it is no longer available. Further, if not advised by a Real Estate Agent, they may choose old versions of rental contracts which may no longer be fully valid. They may also try to keep beneficial clauses in. The handover may be performed less professional. All these may result in future problems and disputes and you are well advised to seek for support.
THE RELOCATION AGENT
It is rather challenging to search for a new home in one of the big renting machines as their offers come in German language only and you will most certainly take a loooong time to identify a flat or house which suits your needs. The Red Relocators search all available apartments of all the real estate agents in accordance to your specific demands and will help present yourself as a financially solid and decent future tenant which can open doors which may otherwise remain closed. Our task is to identify the pluses AND minuses of an object and help you judge if you can get an apartment with a better price/performance relation. We identify the non-standard stipulations in the draft lease agreement and help you negotiate them. We will be present during the handover and make sure all weaknesses are properly highlighted in the handover protocoll. And last but not least, we register you with the utlity providers. Our fees are paid by you, obviously, and depend on the service packages you order.