Soufiane Saadi, group operations director with Athome.lu
If you’re looking to buy a home, plan in advance and be ready to move fast, says Soufiane Saadi.
The grand duchy has, to put it mildly, a competitive and fast-paced real estate market. For tips on how new arrivals can get on the Luxembourg property ladder, Delano spoke with Soufiane Saadi, group operations director with Athome.lu, one of the country’s largest real estate listings sites and a mortgage broker, last year.
Aaron Grunwald: What advice would you give expats who want to buy their first home in Luxembourg?
Soufiane Saadi: When you arrive in Luxembourg and you want to buy a property, first you have to be familiar with prices on the Luxembourg real estate market. In the grand duchy, demand for real estate is greater than supply. So you have to be reactive, because properties can sell very quickly. To prepare, it is quite important to clearly define your search criteria in advance and to keep [your schedule] flexible to be able to visit properties.
How should you begin a search?
90% of real estate searches start on the internet. This is the best way to get a global view of the market. Portals such as Athome.lu offer a very wide selection of the listings available in Luxembourg. [Signing up for] email alerts allows you to be notified as soon as a new property arrives on the market, which allows you to be very responsive. Those who do not have the time or are not here [in the country] might entrust their research to a real estate agent.
Are there certain areas that are more or less popular with expats?
Luxembourg is a multicultural country, it is perfect for expatriates: 50% of the population is foreign, 70% in Luxembourg City. Luxembourg is not segmented by different populations, so there are no areas to be favoured over another.
What are some common frustrations that home buyers have during the process?
As I mentioned earlier, the real estate market is rather tight because there are many buyers and few properties. You have to be able to make a decision quickly when you’re buying a home. We’ve found that 79% of properties on Athome.lu are advertised for less than two months. We advise [home buyers] to clearly define their objectives in advance and target their research in order to not lose time. It is also necessary to prepare financing plans ahead of time, in order to be as reactive as possible.
When applying for a mortgage, what documents and information do banks generally want to review?
The documents requested for a mortgage are the following: 3 to 6 months of payslips, employer’s salary certificate, 3 to 6 months of bank statements, the repayment plan of any other existing home loans, proof of savings, proof of other income (such as rent) and other loans (such as consumer credit) and a down payment. All these documents will make it possible to define the borrowing capacity of the buyer.
How long does the process typically take, from beginning the search through the final signatures at the notary’s office?
If the property purchase plan is well thought out and financing lined up in advance, it takes an average of three months to buy a property in Luxembourg.
What else should people know about buying their first property in Luxembourg?
A first purchase in Luxembourg remains a safe bet, even if prices are high. The country is growing, GDP grew by 2.6% in 2018, the population is growing very quickly, and real estate is in great demand. In addition, with low interest rates--an average fixed rate of 1.7% according to the latest figures from the Luxembourg Central Bank--and real estate prices up--by 10% for apartments between March 2018 and March 2019 and by 12% for houses, according to Athome figures--Luxembourg real estate is a very good investment.