Selling a House or Property in Luxembourg

Property for sale? A general overview of the process and points to bear in mind when selling a house, apartment or land in Luxembourg...

The real estate agent profession is regulated in Luxembourg. Estate agents must be approved by the Ministère des Classes Moyennes, pass an exam and have a professional card. Estate agents must also have professional liability insurance. Some estate agents belong to the CIGDL - Chambre Immobilière du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, a professional association for estate agents and property managers. Members must follow an ethical code.

Instructing an Agent

Most agents act as sole agents. In general an agreement (mandat) between a seller and an agent is signed for a period of six months or more. Contracts are generally renewed automatically, if notice is not given by one of the parties. Notice should be given by registered letter (lettre recommandée). The agent's fees are three percent (excluding VAT) of the final sale price. As long as the agreement has not expired or has not been cancelled, the commission is due to the agent, even if the seller finds their own buyer. Most agreements contain a clause indicating that commission is due if the agent introduces a buyer during the agreement term, even if the agreement has expired at the time of the sale. Agents advertise their properties through various media including websites and local press. Advertisements often carry the precise address of the property, meaning that some buyers might try and call and visit the property in the absence of the agent.

Visits

The seller and the estate agent can agree on various forms of visits. The agent might hold a duplicate of the key and organise visits in the presence or the absence of the seller. Otherwise visits can be organised at specific times and days, or the estate agent gives sufficient notice before a visit.

Diagnosis reports

For new properties, the seller must provide the buyer with an energy performance certificate provided by a certified professional. This obligation is extended to all properties from 1 January 2010.

Offer and Purchase Agreement

Once an offer has been made a purchase agreement (compromis de vente) is signed with the buyer. This usually includes a number of let-out clauses (clauses suspensives). One of the main let-out clauses that a buyer may add is that the sale is subject to their obtaining a mortgage. When signing the purchase agreement, the buyer may be required to pay a deposit, although this is not very common. The amount should be paid into an escrow account with a notary of the buyer's choice. Should the buyer withdraw the offer, the deposit is lost and paid to the seller. Should the seller withdraw, the deposit is refunded to the buyer, but the vendor must pay an additional amount equivalent to the deposit amount to the buyer. The purchase agreement is not a mandatory document, but is generally established to protect both the buyer and seller in case one withdraws from the sale. If the buyer and seller choose to sign a compromis, the following information should be included:
  • Details and identities of the buyer and seller
  • Full description of the property, with land registration number (registre cadastral) if possible
  • The surface area of the property and land
  • The purchase price with a breakdown of fees and who pays each fee
  • Details of the notary (notaries) and sales agent
  • Details of any fixtures and fittings included in the sale
  • Mortgage information including the date when the buyer should obtain their mortgage offer and the date of completion. A clause is usually added to cancel the transaction if no mortgage can be obtained.
  • Any let out clauses (conditions/clauses suspensives) and the penalties incurred by the buyer or seller if completion doesn't take place

Withdrawing from a purchase agreement

The purchase agreement may also include a clause stating that a sum (usually ten percent of the agreed price), will be paid to the other person if one of the parties withdraws from the transaction. In addition, the withdrawing party will have to pay the agent's commission. The seller does not keep the deposit if the buyer's withdrawal is due to the fact that they cannot fulfil one of the let-out clauses, for example if the buyer cannot obtain a mortgage. The seller may request evidence that the mortgage has been refused by one or more banks.

The Role of the Notary

The notary (notaire) is the only accredited person to officially deal with the completion of any property transfer. The buyer and the seller can agree on one mutual notary or each choose their own. The notary fees are fixed by law and if two notaries are chosen, fees are shared between them. Appointing two notaries may slow down the completion process. Many notaries speak English. For a list of notaries in Luxembourg, see the Chambre de Notaires website (in French).

The Completion Process

The notaire will deal with formalities such as confirming the seller's title to the property and making enquiries into any developments or projects close to the property. Notaries also check any other special conditions such as access rights (servitudes or droit de passage). Usually, the parties meet at the office of the notaire to sign the final deed of sale (acte authentique) and pay the outstanding balance of the purchase price. The seller and the buyer must attend the meeting in person. Married couples and couples in a registered civil partnership should both be present. All parties should bring an identity card or a passport and, for married couples, their family booklet (livret de famille). However any party can be represented by a person of their choice provided a proxy is signed. The notary will always provide templates of proxies with instructions on how to complete them. The notaire cannot represent any party. The balance of the purchase price and the notary fee can be paid:
  • either by bank transfer from the buyers bank (or their mortgage provider) into the notary's escrow account or
  • by a certified and guarantee cheque to the notary
Payments in cash are not accepted. No amount may be paid directly to the seller by the buyer. Note: Notary fees are a best estimate and the balance is either refunded to or claimed from the buyer.

Selling a House Privately

Although most properties in Luxembourg are sold through estate agencies, a property owner may sell their property privately.

Essentials to selling privately

Before putting a property on the market for a private sale, liaise with a notary (notaire). Notary fees are payable by the buyer when the sale is completed and the notary does not charge for advice given prior to the sale. Notaries provide step-by-step assistance from the start of the sale process to the completion.
  • Almost all Luxembourg notaries either speak English or have English-speaking staff
It is recommended to compile a full information pack with the following:
  • Details and identities of the seller
  • Proof of ownership
  • Full description of the property, with if possible:
    • land registration number (registre cadastral): this can be obtained on Geoportail; fill in the address and select the catalogue items required
    • copy of recent invoices related to property refurbishment or improvements (insulation, heating system, electricity)
    • copies of recent utility bills and insurance
    • the mandatory Certificat de Performance Energétique (CPE) issued by an architect or an authorised company
Details of the actual surface area of the property are essential. It is important to note that some rooms (hallway, toilets) are not considered as habitable space and should not be disclosed as such.

Advertising a private sale

The property can be advertised in traditional media:
  • a sign of the front of the property
  • advertisements in major newspapers (Wort, Tageblatt, Luxbazar, etc)
  • on Internet (athome.lu is the largest real estate website)

Sale Documents

The notary will provide both parties with a summary act of the sale. The official final documents remain with the notary when the full transcription has been completed. A certified copy can be obtained from the notary.
Content acknowledged as factual and correct by Mr Abby Toussaint, Immobilière Toussaint, 23 Rue Nicolas Welter, L-7570 Mersch