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Germany: Real estate agent law harmonised

Real estate law

Germany: Real estate agent law harmonised

In 2020, the previously different legal situation in Germany and Italy regarding who has to pay the broker's fees when buying a property has been harmonised.

In Germany, there has been a legal reform for this purpose. The new §§ 656 a ff BGB (German Civil Code), which were introduced on 23 December 2020, basically regulate that - as has always been customary in Italy - the estate agent who mediates the purchase of a property must be paid the same amount by both parties. Even if the broker is commissioned by only one party and the buyer is contractually obliged to pay brokerage costs, this may only be in the amount of 50% brokerage costs (§ 656 d BGB). For the first time in Germany, a written form requirement for the brokerage contract has also been introduced (§ 656 a BGB), which will lead to more legal certainty for the parties.

In Italy, the Court of Cassation reaffirmed the principle of cost sharing pursuant to Art. 1755(1) Codice Civile in its judgment of 24.11.2020 (26682/20): In the case decided, the buyer had concluded a preliminary purchase agreement with the seller 8 months after he had been informed of the property by the estate agent by telephone, without the involvement of the estate agent. The buyer argued in vain before the Italian courts that it would follow from the agreement between the seller and the estate agent that the seller alone should bear the estate agent's costs. The Court of Cassation confirmed the buyer's order to pay the broker's costs, as it found that the broker's activity (who had also sent the plans to the buyer upon telephone request) was causal for the conclusion of the sale.