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Shopping for houses in rural Germany

Helping a house virgin. My friends are teachers, recently returned from abroad, and want to buy in Luneburg, near Hamburg in Lower Saxony. In Germany,like England and France (excluding Paris), prices are much higher in the south. Italy refutes this rule. Spain is confused

Transactions costs of 12% are a barrier to both house purchasers and migrants. Purchasers must pay the estate agent’s fee of 5% as well as taxes and legal fees. This may come as a shock to anglosaxons, used to the idea that an agents duty is to the vendor, and the fee is paid by the same party.

Interestingly, villages prices are lower than nearby towns as elementary schools closed and demand fell. The desire for large gardens has been subjugated to the convenience of nearby schools. As a result villages are dead zones,or for the nearly dead. Huge half-timbered barns conceal horse-drawn carts and sleighs of another age and climate. This winter is almost over and the locals are still waiting for their first frost.

Nature, LuneburgYesterday I was taken to ancient forest and hearth land for a fascinating walk around well-marked paths . The trees were not ancient because the sandy land had been cleared in the past. The tress were Mainly pine with some Turkey oak and beech. You were not allowed off the paths in the “naturschutzpark”. It was a warm day and my request to take off my clothes to liven things up a bit was firmly refused.

I made the mistake of asking to see a typical German village. This request was taken literally by my well-meaning host. The village, which was near the protected ancient forest, was so typical that coach parties of earnest village seekers visited every day.

My favourite German sign so far has been spotted in a car park. Roughly translated it read ” Please park with your exhaust (ausspuff) pointing away from this building.” The building was not a restaurant or children’s hospital but was used to store theatre costumes.

There is no wildlife of any kind left in lower Saxony. Shooting is so popular that even the humble fox is a rarity. I did see a red squirrel but was in the town, where hunting is banned. Bicycling is encouraged though, and the two-decker trains have cavernous lower decks dedicated to bike storage, a trick we could usefully adopt in the UK. The countryside is set with huge wind turbines in small groups resembling uncertain installations at an artist’s first exhibition.monuments to the folly of taking EU green energy targets literally, the blades hang in the fine weather like sheep at a picnic, or cows waiting for rain. Energy prices here are high and wood as fuel is making a comeback.

The house I viewed for sale in Luneburg was new and fitted with triple glazing, underfloor heating throughout, solar panels, geothermal heat exchanger, and chimney flue for a wood-burning stove! The estate agent had yellow teeth and the glazed eyes of an expensive life style. His Harry Marks black leather car coat matched the colour of the kitchen units. His sales pitch was as convincing as his attempt at irony.

Photograph courtesy of Shutterstock.

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