Your home buying plan Practical guide

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1 Your home buying plan Practical guide Marketing Communication September 2013 The bank and insurance of a changing world


3 The project 5 Buying off-plan Buying an existing house or apartment Choosing the right building land Building a house Financing 8 Drawing up a financing plan Making a down payment Choosing a mortgage Insurance 11 Repayment insurance Disability insurance in addition to repayment insurance Life insurance and mortgages AxiHome comprehensive home insurance Government assistance 12 Capital grants and allowances Interest support Other types of assistance Taxation of your property investment 15 Mortgage interest tax relief Deduction of premiums from taxable income (loan repayment insurance) VAT relief Tax credit on registration duty Find out more 18

4 Buying, building or renovating a home is a major project and long-term investment that calls for careful planning. This practical guide from BGL BNP Paribas explains how to go about it. It also contains useful advice on how to finance your property investment. We will be glad to answer any questions you might have and to help you arrange the best financing plan to meet your needs. Feel free to contact one of our branches to arrange a personal meeting. You are under absolutely no obligation. All the credit and financing options presented in this brochure are subject to the bank s prior approval of applications. 4

5 The project Buying off-plan By opting for a yet-to-be-built apartment known as buying off-plan you are sparing yourself the hassle of dealing with the actual construction process. By looking at the plans, you can decide whether the apartment s location and floor area are right for you. These are the key steps: You will sign a pre-sale agreement stipulating that the full price is to be paid in instalments according to how far the work has progressed. The developer is required to offer you a performance bond which will be appended to and recorded with the notarised act of sale. The bank issuing the performance bond guarantees to pay the cost of fully completing the construction work according to the terms of the contract if the seller does not fulfil the completion obligation. The bank can substitute a reimbursement bond for this performance bond. In this case, it undertakes to reimburse the buyer the instalments he or she has paid if the sale is cancelled due to non-completion. Besides the act of sale, you will also sign a joint ownership agreement pertaining to the common areas of the property. Owners rights and responsibilities will be stipulated in a formal set of rules. When you take delivery of your new apartment, an acceptance agreement, noting anything missing or defective, is drawn up. By signing this agreement, the builder undertakes to remedy any problems as quickly as possible. A full completion statement for the building is signed by the parties and given to the bank, releasing it from the performance bond. The ten-year warranty provided by the builder covers the building for latent defects for a period of ten years from the date the apartment is handed over. Buying an existing house or apartment To buy an existing home, you will need to complete these steps: By thoroughly inspecting the house or apartment you are thinking of buying, you may avoid nasty surprises. The opinion of a building expert can also help you estimate the value of the property, detect hidden defects (cracks, damp) and assess what repairs will have to be made. You must also ensure that the building possesses an energy performance certificate (Energiepass), which has been compulsory in Luxembourg since 1 January The costs associated with the building will be lower if the energy performance is improved. In the case of an apartment, it is also recommended that you consult the joint ownership regulations which set out the rights and obligations of everyone in the shared property. When you have found the house or apartment that seems right for you, you sign a preliminary contract of purchase with the seller. This agreement contains clauses relating to duration, termination, and compensation for breach of contract. If you are taking out a mortgage to finance the purchase, it is customary to include a condition precedent whereby the contract lapses if you fail to get a loan from a bank. Some renovation or conversion work may be needed. If that is the case, remember to ask the local authorities for the necessary permits. The purchase of an apartment, a house or land is made official by a deed of sale signed before a notary. Your title will be recorded with the Civil Agreements division of the Luxembourg land registry (Administration de l Enregistrement et des Domaines). 5

6 Choosing the right building land Before buying land to build on, make sure the answer to the following questions is yes: Is it really building land, that is, land classified as such, for which a building permit has been issued by the competent local authority? Before beginning any work, you must have a building permit issued by the local authority on the basis of your architect s plans. Are the necessary utility connections such as sewerage, water, electricity, telephone and gas available? Are there any unidentified easements on the property such as a right of way, a spring, municipal pipes or gas lines? The local authority, cadastral records office, your notary and your architect will be able to answer these questions for you. 6

7 Building a house You own land and you want to build a house on it. If you want to deal personally with the various phases of the project, customised building will allow you to be involved in many different ways. Your architect will draw up preliminary plans, taking into consideration your tastes and your budget. The architect will also prepare a detailed description of the interior and exterior finishings, the fixtures and the materials to be used, and give you a cost estimate. Once a final project has been decided on, the architect will supply a detailed plan and a schedule for the phases of construction. Since you are the person ordering the work, you may get estimates from contractors, examine their proposals and choose the companies to build your new home. Your architect can help you find the most compe titive and competent construction company, with verifiable references. If you do not want to deal with all these matters yourself, you can choose the home building contract option, with a choice of traditional or prefabricated construction. The price of the home is specified in the contract and, in principle, cannot be changed. The company you choose to build your home awards the contracts, co-ordinates and oversees the work, and guarantees deadlines and quality of service. You sign a purchase or construction contract with the builder, containing a list of specifications for the work to be done. This contract must be drafted in a legal manner, and it obliges the builder to comply with certain buildingregulations. It contains a detailed description of the work and materials as well as the agreed total price. In some cases, the limits and conditions for revising this price may be included, too. To avoid delays, you can also specify the date that work is to begin and end. If you will be paying for your house in instalments, you have the right to ask your builder for a bank guarantee or performance bond. by which the bank undertakes to pay another contractor to finish the work if the original firm does not meet its completion obligation. On the day you receive the keys, you will sign an acceptance agreement for the house with the builder, which states that work has been completed and that it complies with the original description. If you notice any defects or missing items, it is recommended that you note these in the agreement. By signing this document, the builder undertakes to correct these problems promptly. A full completion statement for the building is signed by the parties and given to the bank, discharging it of the performance bond. The builder will provide you with a ten-year warranty covering any and all latent defects for a period of ten years. The warranty takes effect on the date the house is accepted. It should be included in writing in the acceptance agreement. 7

8 Financing Drawing up a financing plan The financing plan includes the cost of items in the project and the sources of financing. It will help you determine the amount you will need to borrow. To help you draw up your complete financing plan, we have listed below most of the expenses that you will incur when purchasing or building a home. At the back of the guide you will find a table to fill in with your own data. a. The purchase price of the land or building is specified in a contract between the seller and the buyer. b. A deed of sale fee, also called the notary fee, is charged for the preparation and registration of anotarised deed of sale, which makes your property rights official. Your notary will tell you the exact amount of these fees. c. You should take every precaution by determining the cost of any conversions or repairs on the basis of precise estimates from builders or from the general contractor in overall charge of the work. For new construction, the price should be itemised in the construction contract. When you build or renovate a dwelling that will serve as a main residence you benefit from a lower rate of value-added tax. d. A mortgage registration fee is charged for the notarised instrument granting the mortgage and registering it on behalf of the bank with the Bureau des Hypothèques. You pay this fee through your notary. The mortgage is a lien required by the bank. It allows the bank to sell the property if the debtor cannot meet his or her obligations. This extreme solution is obviously used only when there is no alternative and only after the bank has sought other solutions with the client. e. BGL BNP Paribas recommends that you take out repayment insurance and/or other types of insurance to cover the outstanding balance on your mortgage in the event of death and thus protect your loved ones. f. You may also have to plan for auxiliary expenses, such as water, electricity, telephone and possibly gas connections, a collective TV aerial, land drainage and landscaping. The local authorities can provide you with information on the taxes related to the construction of a house. Also, administration fees will be charged when your mortgage is approved. g. We recommend that you set aside funds for unforeseen expenses and the likely increase in theprices of materials during the construction (if you are having the house built). h. If you do not start repaying your mortgage immediately, you will also have to allow for interim interest payments. These are calculated on the basis of the amount actually used before the repayments begin. Adding up these items will show your total costs. To determine how much you need to borrow as a mortgage, you should deduct from this total all other possible sources of financing: assets: savings, sale of property, etc.), income from life insurance, gifts (e.g. from family members), grants, VAT refunds, etc. 8

9 Making the down payment Choosing a mortgage When you apply for a mortgage, the bank will normally ask you for a down payment calculated in relation to your personal situation and your ability to repay the loan. In some circumstances, however, BGL BNP Paribas can offer you full financing for your project. Don t hesitate to talk this over with an adviser at one of our branches. To enable you to build up the money to purchase property through regular savings, BGL BNP Paribas offers a variety of products, such as savings accounts, special home savings accounts, mutual funds and investment funds. What is a mortgage and who can get one? A mortgage is the ideal form of financing to enable you to purchase an apartment or house, to build or renovate a property, or to purchase land. It is suitable for financing a property for your personal use or to rent. Any individual or legal entity can take advantage of mortgage financing, on condition they can show proof of a stable income sufficient to repay the mortgage over the long term. 9

10 What is the interest rate on your mortgage? There are two types of rate which can apply to your mortgage: An adjustable rate is regularly adjusted according to market conditions. This type of rate allows for early redemption at no cost. A fixed rate with set monthly payments to protect you from any unfavourable interest rate changes. This type of mortgage allows for early redemption subject to penalties. Under certain conditions, the fixed rate may be revised after 5, 10 or 15 years. Its term is set according to your requirements and ability to repay. If you opt for a variable rate, you may choose either to adjust your monthly payments when the rate changes or adjust the term of the loan keeping your monthly payments constant (in this case, the term of the loan is reduced when the rate falls and vice-versa). If you opt for a fixed rate, you may choose between a fixed rate for the entire term of your mortgage and a revisable fixed rate, which is set for a certain period after which you may once again choose between a fixed or a variable rate. You may naturally combine the 2 two types of rate. Payments are monthly. The amount of the monthly payment depends on the interest rate, the payment period and the amount of the mortgage. You and BGL BNP Paribas agree on the date for the first deferred payment of the principal after a period of occupancy. Thus, if you have bought a property that is still being built or renovated and you are continuing to pay rent in your present home, you will pay only the interest due during the period until you move into your new home. The normal monthly payments, consisting of principal and interest, begin only when you move in. In the case of instalment payments (for construction work for example), interest will be paid on the amounts actually used. You can opt for fixed payments, which do not change over the entire period of the mortgage, or graduated payments. With the latter, you pay only the interest during the first five years, thus making it easier for you to manage other priorities. What guarantees are required? The bank is entitled to ask you for guarantees. Besides a mortgage, BGL BNP Paribas generally requires that you take out insurance to cover the outstanding balance on the loan in the event of death. Other guarantees might also be required, such as the pledging of stocks or a life insurance policy, a guarantee from another bank or a third party co-signing the mortgage. Evaluate the feasibility of your property project You can use the credit simulator available on to obtain a rough idea of your monthly payments depending on the amount that you wish to borrow. 10

11 Insurance Repayment insurance The credit protection insurance comprehensive home insurance covers a specified amount of principal for a set period in the event of your death. In the case of a loan, if the policyholder dies during this period, the insurance company will pay the outstanding balance on the loan to the beneficiary. The buyer s family can thus be protected from financial liabilities related to the mortgage if the policyholder dies. You are entitled to tax deductions 1) for repayment insurance (see page 16). Disability insurance in addition to repayment insurance In addition to repayment insurance, you can take out cover for disability. The insurer reimburses the unpaid balance in the event of total permanent disability, regardless of the cause. Life insurance and mortgages Besides being a profitable long-term investment, life insurance can be part of your mortgage financing arrangements, also entitling you to tax benefits 1). The face amount of your policy (i.e. the amount paid at maturity) can be used to guarantee your mortgage in the event of death. AxiHome comprehensive home insurance AxiHome is a comprehensive form of home insurance 2) which offers the advantage of covering three types of guarantee to protect: Your home in the event of a fire and associated risks, storms and hail, water damage, broken glass, accidental breakage of domestic appliances, alarms and surveillance equipment and earthquakes. Your family in the event of damage caused to third parties (family civil liability) and legal action. Your property in the event of electrical damage, theft, accidental breakage of multimedia, IT and office equipment (with the exception of portable electronic equipment which can be covered with BGL BNP Paribas Nomad insurance). The EasiHome offer You can simplify things by opting for an allinclusive package which enables you to finance and insure your property in Luxembourg: A home loan which can be adapted to your situation Credit protection insurance AxiHome comprehensive home insurance Special benefit for children: EUR 150 per year per child up until the age of 12 1) For people whose tax returns are processed in Luxembourg. 2) AxiHome is an exclusive comprehensive home insurance policy issued by the insurance company AXA Assurances Luxembourg and distributed by BGL BNP Paribas. 11

12 Government assistance Certain types of government assistance are determined on the basis of income, family situation and the construction type of the applicant s property. Capital grants and allowances Purchase grant Capital grant which may be obtained to acquire a property which was previously inhabited. Linked to the granting of a mortgage by a financial institution. Construction grant Capital grant which may be obtained for the construc tion of a residential building, i.e. a house or apart ment. Linked to the granting of a mortgage by a financial institution. Home improvement grant Capital grant obtained to finance the renovation of a residential building. This is granted for specific work carried out in order to improve sanitation and safety in buildings which were first occupied more than 15 years ago. This cannot be used for routine maintenance or embellishments. Our advisors will be pleased to inform you about these different types of assistance and will help you with your applications. Feel free to contact one of our branches. _Savings _ bonus Based on the interest and premiums on balances on a home savings account or ordinary savings account, provided that the money is used to purchase the property. The bonus is capped at EUR 5,000 and is subject to the conditions that applicants must: qualify for a purchase/construction grant; show that they have been saving regularly for at least three years with a credit institution with a starting capital of at least EUR 100. Additional grant for architect s and consultant engineer s fees Financial assistance granted by the government in addition to the construction or improvement allowances to cover part of the cost of hiring an architect or consultant engineer. Handicapped accessibility grant Capital grant from the government which may be obtained to make improvements to new or existing buildings for persons with physical disabilities. Grants linked to long-term care insurance With the introduction of long-term care insurance, Luxembourg brought in a system of grants to enable dependent persons to be cared for at home. Only officially recognised dependents are entitled to funding for home improvements. 12

13 Assistance for energy savings and the use of renewable energy The Environment Ministry grants subsidies to private individuals for the completion of investment projects intended to support rational energy usage and the promotion of renewable energy. Types of subsidised investments: passive house; low-energy house; energy efficiency improvement of existing buildings; miscellaneous technical facilities incorporated in the property. Some local administrative areas (communes) apply subsidy programmes for renewable energy. Additional information The Citizens Portal on the site provides all the necessary information on housing grants, namely the eligibility conditions and the level of grants. 13

14 Interest support Other types of assistance _Interest _ subsidy Allowance to reduce monthly interest payments, varying according to family status and taxable income. _Interest _ allowance Allowance to reduce monthly interest payments for people who have taken out a mortgage for the construction, acquisition or improvement of their property. The interest allowance is calculated in order to reduce the interest expenses rate per dependent child. Interest subsidy is deducted from the dependent child interest allowance. State guarantee The State can give its guarantee to a credit institution if borrowers are unable to supply adequate security themselves. To qualify for a state guarantee, applicants must satisfy certain savings-relatedconditions. VAT refunds To encourage housing construction, the government has introduced two measures relating to valueadded tax (VAT): Direct application of the lowest rate (3%) to building work. A request must be filed before the workbegins and must be approved by the competent authority (Administration de l Enregistrement etdes Domaines). Refund of the difference between VAT paid at 15% and the lowest rate of 3% for main residences. The allowance for the lowest VAT rate is capped at EUR 50,000 per property. Local allowances Some local administrative areas (communes) in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg encourage home ownership by offering capital allowances. In most cases, applicants must first qualify for a purchase/ construction grant, under the Housing Support Act of 25/2/1979 (amended). BGL BNP Paribas advisers will be happy to provide you with more information on these aids. 14

15 Taxation 1) of your property investment Mortgage interest tax relief You are entitled to deduct interest payments from your taxes, regardless of whether you have taken out a fixed rate, adjustable-rate or graduated payment mortgage. Building land Loan interest can be deducted in full if construction begins within two years of purchasing the land (deduction under professional expenses ). Up to EUR 336 of loan interest can be deducted if work begins more than two years after the land is purchased (deduction under special expenses ). Owner-occupied property Loan interest can be deducted in full as professional expenses while the building is unoccupied because of construction or conversion work. Once the building is occupied, the amount of interest deductible depends on household size: PERIOD DEDUCTION PER PERSON 1-5 years EUR 1, years EUR 1,125 > 10 years EUR 750 The rental value of the property must be deducted from these amounts, as follows: 4% of the portion of unit value up to EUR 3,800; 6% of the portion of unit value exceeding EUR 3,800. Rented property Loan interest can be deducted in full ( professional expenses ). 1) Taxation depends on the individual situation concerned and may be subsequently amended (see art. 32 para. 7 of the Grand Ducal Regulation of 13 July 2007). The possible deductions and tax benefits described in this brochure apply to Luxembourg tax filers. 15

16 Deduction of premiums from taxable income (loan repayment insurance) Main residence Single premium policy - Subscription to an individual policy : Deduction of up to EUR 672 for each person in the household. The payment of a single premium may also give rise to a supplement and an additional supplement. Insured party Supplement up to age 30 Additional supplement, age 31 to 50 Additional supplement, over 50 Taxpayer EUR 6,000 EUR 480 per year EUR 9,600 with 1 child EUR 7,200 EUR 576 per year EUR 11,520 with 2 children EUR 8,400 EUR 672 per year EUR 13,440 with 3 children EUR 9,600 EUR 768 per year EUR 15,360 - Subscription by spouses/partners to either an individual policy each or a joint policy covering both Insured party Supplement up to age 30 Additional supplement, age 31 to 50 Additional supplement, over 50 Taxpayer EUR 12,000 EUR 960 per year EUR 19,200 with 1 child EUR 13,200 EUR 1,056 per year EUR 21,120 with 2 children EUR 14,400 EUR 1,152 per year EUR 23,040 with 3 children EUR 15,600 EUR 1,248 per year EUR 24,960 Annual premium policy: Deduction of up to EUR 672 for each person in the household (under special expenses). Rented property Deduction of up to EUR 672 for each person in the household. 16

17 VAT relief To encourage housing construction, the government the building or renovation of property for residential purposes is eligible for the reduced rate of VAT at 3%. The building contractor or firm, which is responsible for charging VAT at the correct rate, must file a request for the reduced rate with the proper authority (Administration de l Enregistrement et des Domaines) before commencing work. If no authorisation has been issued, the contractor or firm will apply the normal rate of VAT. The owner must then apply for a partial rebate (i.e., the difference between 15% and 3%) via a refund procedure. The refund procedure is mandatory in the following cases: sales of new buildings not yet occupied, sales of finished sections (at the date of the notary s deed ) of buildings under construction, purchases of building materials, and invoices not exceeding EUR 3,000. Tax credit on registration duty When you buy a house or apartment as your main residence or a plot of building land in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, you are entitled to a tax credit, provided the sale is recorded in a notarised deed. You can claim a rebate on registration duty. This rebate amounts to a maximum of EUR 20,000 per purchaser. The tax credit can thus be increased to EUR 40,000 in the case of a joint acquisition by married taxpayers or two non-married taxpayers. The maximum allowance under the reduced VAT rate is EUR 50,000 per dwelling. 17

18 Find out more This practical guide has been written to answer many of the questions you may have about buying property. It is designed to provide general information that will make the process easier for you. Why not ask for a personal interview with one of our advisers? It s all part of our service, and you are under absolutely no obligation. You will find a list of our branches on the following page. 18 The information herein reflects prevailing conditions in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in August It is provided without any commitment or responsibility incumbent on BGL BNP Paribas. BGL BNP Paribas shall not be held in any way liable or responsible if the information is incorrect, incomplete or out of date. The information in this brochure is published purely as an indication and without any commitment or assurance that it is complete, accurate and up to date. It in no way and in no case constitutes an offer or solicitation for any purchase or sale of any kind. It does not constitute, and should not be taken to represent, any form of legal, tax or accounting advice.


20 Branch My bank is always easy to reach Our branches in Luxembourg City: Royal-Monterey Bonnevoie Cloche d Or Gare Grand-Rue Kirchberg Head office Kirchberg Europe Limpertsberg Merl-Belair Merl-Jardins de Luxembourg Bascharage Kordall Bereldange Bettembourg Clervaux Diekirch Differdange Dudelange Echternach Esch Belval Esch Benelux Esch Centre Ettelbruck Grevenmacher Howald Junglinster Larochette Mamer Mersch Mondorf-les-Bains Niederanven Redange-sur-Attert Remich Schifflange Steinfort Strassen Tétange Käldall Troisvierges Vianden Wasserbillig Wiltz BGL BNP Paribas S.A. 50, avenue J.F. Kennedy L-2951 Luxembourg Telephone: (+352) Fax: (+352) R.C.S. Luxembourg : B The bank and insurance of a changing world