How Berlin Became the World’s Coolest Capital City


The German capital has grown from political pawn to global trendsetter. By Eliot Stein.

In 1987, Berlin was a divided city, cleaved in two by a concrete wall and treated like a political pawn in the Cold War freeze separating Western capitalism from Eastern communism.

While Americans watched as President Reagan stood by the Brandenburg Gate that June and demanded, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” stories of Berlin’s industrial techno temples, bohemian squats, and sweat-driven, all-night raves had already helped to put the city on the map for hedonists everywhere.

Thirty years later, the German capital has leveraged its legendary climate of cultural experimentation, DIY creativity, and free-wheeling spirit born from repression to become one of the most achingly hip places on the planet. Even as it’s catapulted to the center of European power and faced growing gentrification woes, Berlin remains a dynamic cultural trendsetter—a place whose live-and-let-live ethos has lured artists, activists, and visitors since Berliners swarmed the Wall with sledgehammers in 1989. The numbers don’t lie: In 2015, Berlin surpassed Rome to become Europe’s third-most-visited city, behind London and Paris. Last year, it welcomed a record 12.7 million visitors—more than 3.5 times its population, six times the number that visited West Berlin in 1987, and 4.5 times the number that visited the city in 1990 following reunification.

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Investors pile into Berlin’s booming real estate

Article written by Emily Perryman in JLL real views

Overseas investors are pouring money into Berlin’s real estate sector, attracted by the German capital’s burgeoning economy and strong growth prospects.

After a record third quarter, which saw almost $3 billion of capital flowing into the city, Berlin has become the third most popular European destination for cross-border investment in 2017.

High-profile deals included the €1.1 billion acquisition of the Sony Center by Oxford Properties and Madison International Realty – one of the largest single-asset deals in the European property market this year.

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Berlin, meanwhile, saw GDP growth of 2.7 percent in 2016, making it the strongest growth state alongside Saxony. The city’s population is also expanding quickly and is expected to increase from 3.5 to 4 million by 2035, according to the Cologne Institute for Economic Research.

Rising prime rents, which have risen around 7 percent since the start 0f 2017 to €29 per square meter per month, have further fuelled investor interest.

Kadelbach says: “Germany is generally regarded as a safe haven and Berlin, as the capital, is the first choice because of its positive economic growth and demographics. Investors from all over the world, including the Americas, France, Norway and Asia, are attracted by its stable political environment and dynamic rental growth.”

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Link to the full article here !

Is Germany the next property investment market for Hong Kong investors?

Article written by Ian Sigmund in the South China Morning Post

With Brexit uncertainty, the US being overbought and high interest rates in Canada and Australia, Germany could be a viable option among developed markets

As the Hong Kong market continues to heat up, Brexit uncertainty, and other global markets appearing priced in, investors in Hong Kong are increasingly looking to western Europe, specifically Germany.

Germany, despite boasting Europe’s largest economy and population, has not always been a natural destination for Hong Kong investors seeking to invest in property overseas. Perhaps due to an Anglo-centric bias from Hongkongers, and other jurisdictions closer to home, the German property market has hitherto been overlooked for some years.

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There is a marked housing supply-demand imbalance in major cities across Germany, which is particularly prevalent in Berlin and Frankfurt, and increasing with flourishing migrant populations and a birth rate that has risen to a 33-year high. This supply deficit is forecast to remain at levels of up to 40 per cent until 2030.

In Germany’s capital, 40 per cent of the population is under 35 years old and the city ranked third on the 2016 Youthful Cities Index. Berlin’s growing number of start-ups and new businesses is also fuelling population growth and a youth-centric culture, with 400,000 new residents expected by 2030.

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For investors looking to purchase micro-flats, the main draw is the very attractive rental yields that they offer. The small square-footage of the units allows owners to rent them out at costs that, compared to the average property or full-sized home, are relatively high per square foot, but that are also affordable to tenants who might not be able to afford to live in a larger property in a central location.

For example, Neukölln has the second highest rental growth in Berlin only behind Friedrichshain, its more developed neighbour, and its popularity keeps increasing as more shops, restaurants, bars and cafes keep opening week on week. As a result, the studio flats have high yields – up to 6.4 per cent compared to the 3 to 3.5 per cent average in Berlin.

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Link to the full article here !

Brexit impacts real estate as investors favour Germany over UK

As British researchers focusing on all sectors of the UK economy continue to attempt to confirm if Brexit will have a positive or negative impact on the market as a whole, new figures suggest investment-friendly sentiment is in the early stages of turning its back on Britain. Despite record investment in London, particularly in early 2017, German real estate opportunities have eclipsed the desirability of their UK counterparts for the first time – possibly in anticipation of a wider financial shift toward the mainland following Britain’s divorce from Brussels.

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Just one week later, however, a new study from online real estate investment platform BrickVest has suggested the opposite. The online financial marketplace allows clients to invest in institutional quality real estate globally. Leveraging data from its platform and a survey of 3,500 professional real estate investors from a number of the world’s largest economies, the company has concluded that the continuing saga of Brexit is having an impact on the attractiveness of UK property. According to the analysis of BrickVest’s latest Commercial Property Investment Barometer, 33% of investors named Germany as their preferred destination.

This is the first time that Germany has been chosen as the number one region to invest in ahead of the UK, which was selected by just over a quarter of respondents, at 27%.

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Full article here (consultancy.uk)

Berlin Retains Top City Billing in Emerging Trends 2018

Berlin has been ranked the top city for investment and development for the fourth year in a row by Europe’s real estate community.

The German capital came first out of 31 cities in Emerging Trends in Real Estate Europe 2018, the annual forecast published by the Urban Land Institute and PwC. The report is based on the opinions of more than 800 property professionals.

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Equity and debt are expected to be just as plentiful in 2018, despite the threat of rising interest rates, while this year’s high levels of investment are forecast to continue.

The fact that German cities once again took four of the top 10 spots in the report’s score card of prospects ‘is no surprise’ says the report’s section discussing Markets to Watch. ‘Germany has been steady state for a long time now. With Berlin, people truly believe it’s going to become a major city’, a pan-European financier says.

Full article here

Article written by jane Roberts, in Market Watch.

The Facts and Figures that Support Charlottenburg’s Investment Case

(Part Two of Two)

In Part Two of our introduction (Part One here), we reveal who lives in the area and the numbers behind the investment case that highlight why this City-West location is so appealing to real estate investors.

Home to Wealthy Berliners, Creative Students and Young Families

Charlottenburg has always attracted Berlin’s wealthiest and chicest residents, ever since Sophie Charlotte commissioned the stunning Schloss Charlottenburg. Today, the district counts politicians and local celebrities among its affluent residents. The area has previously been likened to London’s Fitzrovia.

Charlottenburg’s high-end villas and spacious apartments are typically larger than the average in Berlin, with many featuring balconies, garden access and cellar space as well. Wide roads and pavements, elegant avenues lined with trees and classic 19th century architecture make this an attractive and refined neighborhood.

Yet, despite constant development in this busy city centre district, Charlottenburg still offers quiet corners of oasis and pockets of greenery, including playgrounds which attract many middle-class families to the area. To the east, Charlottenburg borders Tiergarten Park, a vast expanse of lakes and woodland in the heart of Berlin, comparable to London’s Hyde Park.

Charlottenburg is also an easy commute to the CBD and other prominent employment areas. The Strasse des 17. Juni runs eastwards from Charlottenburg Gate, through Tiergarten Park, to the famous Brandenburg Gate – connecting Charlottenburg with Berlin-Mitte (Central Berlin) in just a 10-minute drive. What’s more, the prime central location of Charlottenburg as an inner-city district inside the S-Bahn ring (train network) means this area is unrivalled in location as well as class.

In addition, Charlottenburg boasts a large student population due to two local universities: the Technical University of Berlin and the Berlin University of the Arts. Combined, they have a population of over 30,000 students.

Facts and Figures: Charlottenburg as an Investment

Charlottenburg is one Berlin’s best-performing property markets. A traditional, mature and middle-class neighbourhood, rather than an ‘up and coming’ district, Charlottenburg is an evergreen location for property investment in Berlin. Every property in the entire district is considered to have a sophisticated, premium and much sought-after address.

As of the end of 2015, Charlottenburg was reported to have a population of over 330,000 (CBRE). A strong continued pattern of population and price means there is a predicted population growth forecast of 6.1% before 2025.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that demand far outstrips supply and value is rare. Land for new builds is scarce in City West locations such as Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. As of January 2017, there were 460 apartments, either under construction or planned, per 100,000 residents – well below Berlin’s average of 890 per 100,000 residents (CBRE).

Exploring Charlottenburg: a mix of old and new in central Berlin

(Part One of Two)

The traditional neighbourhood of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, named after historic aristocrat Sophie Charlotte of Hanover, Queen consort of Prussia, has long been an area associated with affluence and culture. Ever improving, this district is known for its brilliant mix of old and new, with many residents choosing to live in the area because of the unique combination of rich history and comfortable modernity.

A Long History of Affluence, Culture and Commercial Value

An independent city until 1920, Charlottenburg was then incorporated into Greater Berlin and became known as the ‘New West’ during an era known as ‘The Golden 20s’. At this time, the many theatres, cinemas, bars and restaurants which populated the district gave Charlottenburg the title of Berlin’s leisure and nightlife capital.

This reputation ended with the rise of the Nazi party and the area was heavily damaged in World War II, by both air raids and the Battle of Berlin. However, after 1945, the area quickly regained its influence by becoming the commercial city centre of newly-divided West Berlin.

Charlottenburg Today: A Luxury Retail Destination and Upmarket Residential District

Post-reunification, Charlottenburg is still known as one of the most upmarket areas of the city, with high-end bars and restaurants attracting a bourgeoisie crowd of wealthy residents and visitors.

A shopper’s paradise, Charlottenburg’s famous Kurfürstendamm (often abbreviated to Ku’damm) has been likened to London’s Bond Street and Paris’ Champs-Élysées; the Ku’damm shopping boulevard is packed with designer flagship stores and boutiques, while KaDeWe is the largest department store in Europe.

Aside from being Berlin’s biggest retail destination, Charlottenburg has preserved its historic status as a diverse cultural hub. The area is home to a range of museums, hotels and theatres; an Olympic Stadium from the controversial 1936 Olympic Games; an opera house; Germany’s oldest mosque still in use; and West Berlin’s Chinatown on Kantstrasse, dubbed ‘Kantonstrasses’ after the Canton area of South China.

Of course, Charlottenburg’s most iconic landmark is the picturesque Schloss Charlottenburg (Charlottenburg Palace, pictured above), which is the largest surviving royal palace in Berlin.

A Popular, Established Neighbourhood with a Bright Future

The ruins of Charlottenburg’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church date back to the 1890s, but today they stand alongside towering hotels and contemporary office blocks on the Ku’damm. This mix of old and new best defines the character of Charlottenburg and ultimately, Berlin’s ongoing transition from a city divided to a global-minded metropolis that is looking to the future.

Berlin Workers seeking Home away from Home

Short term employment contracts on the rise as Berlin booms
Millenial contract workers seeking home comforts face reduced options since AirBnB ban

An interesting survey was recently conducted by a travel expenses company showing that alternative options for business travel were becoming increasingly popular and that Berlin was the fifth most popular business travel destination across all cities in the UK, France and Germany.

Given that we are in a day of disruptive innovation, it is no surprise that workers, as much as tourists, want to stay in less conventional accommodation or locations when they travel and use platforms such as AirBnB to find them.

It might be for the home comforts of a bedroom, lounge and kitchen or to get a better sense of the area in which they’re staying. It may simply be to save money. Unfortunately for Berlin, these options have been on the decline since the restrictions brought in last year, making it harder for short term contractors looking for a home away from home.

There is a real possibility that the city of Berlin will become the victim of this change. It’s a burgeoning city with falling unemployment, a rising population, strong educational facilities and significant investment into the city’s infrastructure. The tech companies are arriving and booming, new industries are opening up; as a united city it is still in its infancy, but we mustn’t forget that it is a capital city and to fuel its growth it needs to provide flexible solutions to maintain social mobility and give entrepreneurial companies the opportunity to grow.

This means, as much as anything, providing affordable accommodation for short term workers, often drafted in to fill skills gaps for specific projects or corporate objectives. The recent survey made it clear that whilst hotels were still popular, the demand for alternatives from Millenials in particular, is driving a booming market in alternative business accommodation.

Hotels, as much as they try to evolve, still lack basic home comforts. Hotels will forever sit firmly on the side of tourism and short-term travel, not residence, and many young contract workers want to feel as if they are living in the real Berlin, in a comfortable apartment that has been furnished like home, with their own food in the fridge, neighbours to speak to and local amenities to enjoy. If Berlin doesn’t fill the gap in supply for such accommodation, Berlin’s industries will struggle to bring in the talent they need for the time they need it. Six months of living in a hotel is not what many workers want these days, not to mention the exorbitant cost for the company.

Companies like AirBnB have launched into business travel successfully but Berlin’s restrictions are making it harder for the city’s companies to house short term workers. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that many landlords are seemingly unaware of the option available to them to provide short term, furnished accommodation to the city’s workers through alternative means, such as Buy Berlin’s Corporate Furnished Service.

If landlords fully furnish their apartments, they can be rented out to companies seeking fixed, short term rental contracts for their employees. The tenancy agreement is different to your standard tenancy, allowing landlords to have more control over their property and the rental price. It is a highly successful model that benefits all parties involved and is proving particularly popular in city centre districts and those located near to major project hubs, such as the airport.

BuyBerlin

Buy Berlin Investments is an independent property company that provides turnkey services to global investors, both individual and institutional, who wish to purchase real estate in Germany’s capital city, Berlin.

Established over ten years ago, the company recently expanded into Asia with the opening of its Hong Kong office, providing on the ground customer service in English, German and Chinese.

BuyBerlin supports its clients every step of the way – it seeks the very best properties, assists investors through the intricacies of financing, taxation and German legalities, and provides ongoing asset management in the form of property management, rentals, furnishings and eventual resale.

Berlin’s AirBnB landlords find alternative option for lettings

Corporate furnished letting service is ideal for landlords with city centre apartments affected by the crackdown on short term rentals
Tenancy contracts from three months plus higher yields make this an attractive alternative


It has been nearly nine months since the Berlin government initiated a ban on the majority of short term rentals in the country’s capital. The ban was deemed necessary to help manage what was seen to be Berlin’s escalating rental prices and to support the city’s hotel industry, for which the likes of AirBnB and Wimdu were getting the blame.

With approximately 12,000 rooms available at the time, the vast majority were concentrated in the most popular districts of Berlin, the same areas where many short term workers seek convenient apartments whist working in the city.

Darrell Smith, founder and director of estate agency Buy Berlin, explains that workers who are forced to stay in hotels or serviced apartments for the duration of their contract are the ones suffering the most from this change. “Having a place to stay that feels like home when you’re working in different cities around the world is what online platforms such as AirBnB were so effective at supplying. Despite the new legislation, these apartments can still be made available. What many landlords do not realise is that they can offer their furnished apartments to professional tenants on a short-term basis without facing the rental price restrictions of long-term contracts and can earn considerably more income as a result.”

There are significant benefits to this model; landlords can charge whatever rent they feel is appropriate. As an example, a typical one bedroom apartment of 55 square metres would generate EUR1,375 per month, nearly double what an equivalent unfurnished apartment would fetch. The contracts can be from three months to one year and the rent is packaged with a mandatory monthly clean, which the tenant must pay for.

Buy Berlin has seen a sharp increase in enquiries for corporate lets as Berlin continues to grow as an economic powerhouse, drawing in more business and more people. Smith continues, “Expatriates are looking for centrally located properties which are renovated or in very good condition and vary in size from 30 square metres to 100 square metres. Typically they work for multinational companies (CAC 40, Fortune 500) that often pay the rent for the tenants. We also work with relocation companies on behalf of their clients, and film companies are frequently in contact given that Babelsburg film studio is so near to Berlin.”

The most popular apartments are those found in the most centrally located districts such as Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf.

Berlin’s AirBnB Vermieter finden eine Alternative

Möblierter Vermietungsservice für Berufstätige ist ideal für Vermieter mit City-Center-Wohnungen, die von der Regulierung kurzfristiger Vermietungen betroffen sind.
Mietverträge ab drei Monaten und höhere Erträge machen dies zu einer attraktiven Alternative.


Es ist nun fast neun Monate her, seitdem die Berliner Regierung ein Verbot fast aller kurzfristigen Vermietungen in der Bundeshauptstadt ausgesprochen hat (Zweckentfremdungsgesetz). Dieses Verbot wurde als notwendig angesehen, um dabei zu helfen, die Hotelindustrie der Stadt zu stützen und die Berliner Mietpreise zu regulieren. Hierbei wurde in der Hauptsache die Nutzung von bereits jetzt schon zu knappen Wohnraum für kurzfristige Vermietungen, z.B. an Touristen unterbunden, für deren Eskalation unter anderem die Vermietungsportale AirBnB und Wimdu mitverantwortlich gemacht wurden. Das große Ziel dieses Gesetzes soll sein, den vorhandenen Wohnraum auch allen Mietern langfristig zur Verfügung zu stellen, um so den chronischen Wohnraummangel in Berlin einzudämmen.

Die überwiegende Mehrheit der zur damaligen Zeit etwa 12.000 verfügbaren Zimmer konzentrierte sich auf die beliebtesten Bezirke Berlins und wurde größtenteils an Touristen vermietet. Diese Gebiete sind die Gleichen, in denen viele Pendler möblierte Wohnungen während ihrer Beschäftigung in der Stadt suchen.

Darrell Smith, Gründer und Direktor des Immobilienbüros BuyBerlin Investments, erklärt, dass Berufstätige, die für die Dauer ihres Arbeitsverhältnisses gezwungen sind, in Hotels oder möblierten Wohnungen unterzukommen, diejenigen sind, die am meisten unter dieser Veränderung leiden. “Einen Raum zu haben, der sich wie ein zu Hause anfühlt, wenn man in verschiedenen Städten auf der ganzen Welt arbeitet, ist, was Online-Plattformen wie AirBnB so gezielt anbieten können. Trotz der neuen Gesetzgebung können diese Wohnungen noch verfügbar gemacht werden. Was viele Vermieter nicht wissen, ist, dass sie deutlich mehr Einnahmen erzielen können, indem sie ihre möblierten Wohnungen kurzfristig berufstätigen Mietern anbieten, ohne dabei von Mietpreisbeschränkungen langfristiger Verträge betroffen zu sein.”

Es gibt erhebliche Vorteile für dieses Modell, unter anderem können Vermieter jegliche Miete verlangen, die sie als angemessen betrachten. Als Beispiel würde eine typische Ein-Zimmer-Wohnung mit einem 55m² Schlafzimmer EUR 1.375,00 pro Monat Miete kosten; fast doppelt so viel als eine gleichwertige unmöblierte Wohnung kosten würde. Die Verträge können von drei Monaten bis zu einem Jahr dauern und der Mietvertrag kann auch eventuelle Service-Leistungen, wie z.B. eine obligatorische monatliche Wohnungsreinigung, für die der Mieter zu zahlen hat, enthalten.

BuyBerlin Investments verzeichnet einen starken Anstieg von Anfragen für Vermietungen an Berufstätige, während Berlin weiterhin als wirtschaftliches Zentrum wächst, welches immer mehr Unternehmen und Menschen anzieht. Smith fährt fort: “Auch Auswanderer suchen nach zentral gelegenen Immobilien, die renoviert oder in sehr gutem Zustand sind und in der Größe zwischen 30m² bis 100m² variieren. Meist arbeiten diese für multinationale Unternehmen (CAC 40, Fortune 500), die oft die Miete für Ihre auswärtigen Angestellten zahlen. Wir arbeiten hier z.B. mit Umsiedlungsgesellschaften, die im Namen ihrer Kunden agieren, aber auch Filmfirmen sind häufig mit uns in Kontakt, da das Babelsberger Filmstudio so nah an Berlin ist.”

Die beliebtesten Appartements liegen in den zentral gelegenen Bezirken wie Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg, Charlottenburg oder Wilmersdorf.

Rent rises turning investors to German property, says agency

As demand for German property shifts with more renters looking to buy, international investors are also showing more interest in the market, says a top overseas agency.

With rents in Berlin rising 9% in and low purchase options of around €100,000, there is interest from worldwide buy-to-let investment, says Property Frontiers.

“We’re experiencing a real upturn in demand from investors for property in Germany and in particular in the capital. As the Berlin market shifts its focus, international investors are seeing a new and realistic exit strategy open up before them. Combined with the stability of Germany as an investment prospect, Berlin has quickly become one of the most exciting residential property investment destinations in Europe.”

Germany – and in particular Berlin – has been a nation of renters for decades. Just 18% of the city’s residents are owner-occupiers due to the housing subsidy legacy of the old East German government, according to agent, Buy Berlin.

Across the country, ownership remains low, with only around half of Germans owning a home. The only country with a lower home ownership rate in Europe is Switzerland.

A national shift in perspective means increasing numbers of renters are becoming buyers, giving the property market a new lease of life.

Berlin2As the housing market takes on a new dynamic, buy-to-let properties like Stadtpark Steglitz, pictured,  have become increasingly appealing, with the more active market offering a realistic exit strategy says Frontiers’ Ray Withers. Studio, one, two and three bedroom apartments there start from €109,600, with gross yields of up to 5.6%.Rent rises are one of the factors behind the new German interest in buying property. According to Jones Lang LaSalle, rents in Berlin have risen from €5.50 per square metre in 2005 to €9 per square metre in 2014. From 2013 to 2014 alone, rents rose by more than 9%. While Berlin has responded by introducing a rent cap, many tenants have already had their heads turned by the prospect of property ownership.

Continuing low interest rates across Europe and Eurozone-related uncertainties have also caused many Germans to look at buying property, as they seek out the best ways to make their savings work for them in this post-Great Recession world.

Andrew Groom, of JLL, says, “We’re at the start of a re-pricing period of anywhere between two to five years. Prices in Germany have tended to be stable for long periods of time, and have then been driven by bigger macro-economic political events. We’re going through a macro-economic situation now, which is driving Germans back into bricks and mortar.”
Read more at http://www.opp.today/rent-rises-turning-investors-to-german-property-says-agency/#w67AtTjRAd4L7IIu.99