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Engel & Völkers LiquidHome launches operations in Austria offering the partial sale of property

18. January 2023

A guest commentary by Gerald H. Beirer, Managing Director of EV LiquidHome.

The real estate partial sale system developed by Engel & Völkers LiquidHome is also possible in Austria now. This equity release model has been offered since the end of last year via the newly founded company EV LiquidHome GmbH in Graz. The company’s business throughout Austria is managed from this office. Engel & Völkers LiquidHome has already been operating in Germany since April 2020. The strong growth generated in Germany shows that the re is a considerable need for new solutions in the field of ho me equity release. This potential also exists in Austria, which is why the company decided to enter the market here. 

In the case of a partial sale, up to 50% of a property is sold at the current ma rket value. This partial sale gives customer s additional liquidity and flexibility in old age. Thanks to the partial sale, the sellers are granted a usufructuary right and are allowed to continue using their properties as usual. They remain 100% beneficial owners of the property and can decide themselves about an y conversion, renovation or refurbishment work they would like to carry out.

Increasing liquidity problems in old age

Overly high financial burdens and low retirement benefits pose major challenges to people, also in Austria. Whether the issue is to renovate a house, pay off the inheritance owed to legal heirs, or take a long-desired overseas trip, retirement begins a phase in life in which people finally have more time to realise their dreams. However, many people lack sufficient liquidity to turn these dreams into reality or simple to maintain their standard of living. For the most part, a loan is not an option for two reasons. First, the chances of getting a loan with increasing age and declining liquidity are generally not good. Second, it is not a pleasant thought for people to assume the burden of a loan when they reach retirement age. So, what is the alternative? To decide for a total sale and to move away from the property for which one spent many years paying off all the debts?

To receive a lifelong annuity in which possession of the house is also transferred to new owners? All of these options represent unpleasant compromises in which many freedoms, rights and ultimately a key part of a person ’s quality of life are lost. A large number of people are searching for solutions which are adapted to the needs of property owners and not the other way around. Here is where the concept of a partial sale of properties can play a role. It has now been expanded by Engel & Völkers LiquidHome to encompass the Austrian market.

Financial freedom without comp romises

The equity release model originated in the English-speaking world. In the meantime, it is also enjoying increasing popularity in Austria and Germany. In contrast to a complete sale of the property, the seller retains full flexibility in the case of a partial sale as well as almost a 100% right to use or change the property in any way you deem fit. In this case, Engel & Völkers LiquidHome serves as a kind of silent owner behind the scenes. In return, the company receives an annual usage (usufructuary) fee. This is comparable to a proportionate rental fee for the stake in the property that was sold.

Significant market potential as the main argument for locating in Austria 

The company’s entry into the Austrian market comprises a logical step for Engel & Völkers LiquidHome for many reasons. Close to 20% of all Austrians are older than the age of 65, and this figure is expected to increase. Frequently real estate represents the biggest part of their assets. However, this capital is not freely available. Furthermore, similar to the situation in Germany, 47.9% of all Austrians live in their own homes. 

High home ownership rate in the federal states 

Engel & Völkers LiquidHome is attaching particular emphasis to Austria ’s federal states such as Burgenland, Lower Austria, Styria and Carinthia, in light of the fact that they show a high proportion of single-family houses. The home ownership rate in these regions is above the national average. According to Statistics Austria, more than two-thirds (68%) of the population own residential property in Burgenland, and 63% in Lower Austria. 

Due to all these factors, the business location of Austria offers ideal prerequisites for the partial sale of property. Although the economic situation and the real estate market a re strained at the present time, we optimistically look ahead to the future on the basis of our business model. 

Engel & Völkers LiquidHome

EV LiquidHome GmbH, a licensing partner of Engel & Völkers Marken GmbH & Co. KG, offers an equity release model in which customers are ensuring liquidity, independence and flexibility in old age. The partial sale of up to 50% of their own home gives them additional financial leeway, but they have the complete right of use and can decide themselves about conversion, renovation and refurbishment of the property. The property owners have the right to repurchase the property, as do the legal heirs. The partial sale is possible starting with a purchase value of € 100,000, with the upper limit specified at 50% of the property value. Depending on the amount and value of the share sold, the customer pays a monthly usage fee. This model clearly differentiates itself from the usufruct and life annuity options.

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