PHOTO: Property is theft. Photographer: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP

Germans (and Americans) pay far too much commission to real estate brokers.

Real estate agents aren’t well liked anywhere, but Germany’s really take the biscuit. Here, home-buyers often pay the commission of an agent hired by the seller and this can be as high as 7% (6% plus sales tax) of the purchase price. Who pays and how much varies by federal state.

If you’re buying a 500,000 euro ($551,000) apartment in Berlin, reckon on paying an eye-watering 35,000 euros ($38,500) or so to the agent. In Hamburg and Frankfurt, they’ll have to scrape by on 30,000 euros.

Add in notary costs and property transfer taxes and the one-off expense of buying a home in Germany can add up to 15% of the purchase price. Banks usually won’t finance these massive upfront costs and they harm the buyer’s ability to build up wealth for retirement. With house prices soaring, even fewer people have enough savings to get on the property ladder; only about half of households own their own home in Germany. That’s among the lowest level in Europe and makes inequality worse.