The Case For Investing In Berlin’s Real Estate

Article written by Christian Schulte Eistrup, managing director of Optimum Asset Management, 2 January 2018, in Wealth Briefing

Berlin has changed considerably in recent years, yet it remains one of the most compelling market opportunities and appealing cities in Germany. The capital still offers excellent value; provided a proactive investment approach is taken.

We were an early entrant to the Berlin property market in 2006, when the city was not so popular. However, as evidenced by the city’s fourth successive appearance atop PricewaterhouseCooper’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate survey, Berlin has entered new territory.

The property market in Berlin is booming and offers great value to businesses. It is one of Europe’s most dynamic destinations for tech companies, large and small. The Sony Centre deal in November was one the largest European real estate deals in 2017.

Furthermore, the city is now among the most popular tourist destinations in the EU – recording the fastest expansion in the total number of nights spent in tourist accommodation between 2005 and 2015. On this metric, Berlin has seen almost twice the rate of growth for London.

While residential prices have been rising, they remain good value compared to other major capitals such as Paris or London, where prices per square metre are at least five times higher. Berlin remains a high-growth, supply-constrained city. With one of the highest GDPs per inhabitant in the country, low unemployment and healthy wage growth – the economic fundamentals here are strong. (Eurostat, 2017)

The city has also benefitted from the continuing transfer of government ministries from other parts of Germany and according to Berlin’s Senate, the population is set to grow by more than 250,000 by 2019. With this comes ever-increasing demand, including for home ownership, and pressure on the occupier supply/demand imbalance – the potential for real estate value growth is significant.

A proactive approach to asset management is key to generating strong risk-adjusted returns. This approach can generate an uplift of up to 80-100 basis points in yield, by focusing on mismanaged properties. This requires a more strategic analysis of single assets and concept creation for spaces; inspired by a combination of a property’s architectural aspects and the profile of intended tenants.

Take, for instance, properties in the range of €10 million ($11.9 million) – €50 million. Property at this price point is often out of the reach of private investors, but below the radars of institutions. For example, we recently purchased buildings located around Stralauer Allee that were, in a previous life, retail warehouses. With retailers struggling due to online competition, the properties were reimagined around the concepts of media and technology. This attracted higher yielding, future focused tenants such as Porsche Digital Lab.

Within Berlin’s residential stock, there is still unrealised value to be unlocked by buying high-quality buildings whose characteristics make them eligible for a condominium conversion strategy. A building purchased in the fashionable district of Charlottenburg, for example, can result in an uplift of €3,000 per square metre.

Based on our experience spanning over ten years in Berlin, there is real estate in several other selected cities that is beginning to match the capital as the best source of attractive returns with low underlying risk.

Potsdam, Dresden and Leipzig all exhibit the occupier supply/demand imbalance that attracted investors to Berlin in the first instance. The three markets offer modest risk, but with even more affordable prices and attractive yields. Each are growing centres of technology, education and industry and offer investment opportunities comparable to Berlin, specifically with regards to mismanaged but high-quality properties.

Cologne, Düsseldorf and Hamburg also offer further opportunities, on a selective basis, to participate in the positive macroeconomic and property fundamentals.

In Berlin and across these six other locations, office and residential vacancy rates are falling and demand continues to increase year on year. Some have become concerned that markets could become overpriced and thus dampen returns on new investments. In our view, strong population growth coupled with rapid property and rental price growth are clear indicators of Berlin’s prosperity.

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Brexit is making Germany even more juicy for real estate investors

Article written by Jill Petzinger for Quartz Media

It appears the real estate sector is no less susceptible to Brexit jitters than the financial one. As the months drag on with no clear UK plan on how to exit the European Union in sight, real-estate investors are eyeing up more predictable, lucrative places to put their money—and stable haven Germany is proving a major draw.

A survey released this week from auditing company PwC and the Urban Land Institute found that Germany’s capital Berlin tops the charts as the most attractive European city for investment and development potential. Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich, and Hamburg grabbed places in the top six cities in the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2018 report, which interviewed 818 people from the real-estate industry. London’s 2018 “overall prospects” are ranked 27th.

Picture from Markus Schreiber

Real estate investment in Germany in the last year came to €68 billion ($79 billion) up from €54 billion last year, and outstripping the UK’s €66 billion worth of investment in the last year.

. . .

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.

(. . .)

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%.

. . .

Full article here (

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.

(. . .)

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.

German House Price on Fire!

Germany’s housing market price rises have been accelerating for several months. In a country where the housing market has historically been extraordinarily stable, this is a significant shift.

The reasons?
Strong economic growth, 1.1 million refugees, high work-related immigration, weak construction supply and low interest rates.

The German housing market was one of the few that avoided a slump in the wake of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

German house price changes:

In 2009, the price index fell by 1.9% y-o-y (-2.7% inflation-adjusted).
In 2010, prices bounced back, rising by 3.6% y-o-y (2.2% inflation-adjusted).
In 2011, house prices rose by 4.7% y-o-y (2.7% inflation-adjusted).
In 2012, house prices rose by 4.6% y-o-y (2.5% inflation-adjusted).
In 2013, house prices rose by 3.2% y-o-y (1.8% inflation-adjusted).
In 2014, house prices rose by 3.7% y-o-y (3.5% inflation-adjusted).
In 2015, house prices rose by 5.6% y-o-y (5.3% inflation-adjusted).

Statistics of price rise during the year Q2 2016:

In North-East Germany:

In Berlin apartment prices rose by 7.7% to a median price of €3,036 (US$ 3,301) per square metre (sq. m.). The median price of one- and two-family houses rose by 4.6% y-o-y to €2,104 (US$ 2,287) per sq. m.

Hanover had the strongest y-o-y apartment price hike in Q2 2016, rising by 10.02% to €2,172 (US$ 2,361) per sq. m. However, one- and two-family houses increased by only 1.33% to €1,719 (US$ 1,869) per sq. m.

In Dresden, median apartment prices rose by 1.79% to €1,987 (US$ 2,160) per sq. m., while one- and two-family houses increased by 6.35% to €1,995 (US$ 2,169) per sq. m.

In Hamburg, median apartment prices increased by only 1.41% to €3,480 (US$ 3,783) per sq. m. One- and two-family houses rose by 2.57% to €2,325 (US$ 2,528) per sq. m..

In West Germany:

Dusseldorf had the highest apartment price increase in the region, rising by 7.62% to a median price of €2,261 (US$ 2,458) per sq. m. In contrast, the median price of one- and two-family houses fell by 1.57% to €2,163 (US$ 2,352) per sq. m.

In Cologne, median apartment prices rose by 5.79% to €2,474 (US$ 2,690) per sq. m. One- and two-family houses had a price increase of 1.92% y-o-y to €2,099 (US$ 2,282) per sq. m.

In Dortmund, median apartment prise fell by 3.05% to €1,300 (US$ 1,413) per sq. m. Prices of one- and two-family houses also fell by 1.06% to €1,872 (US$ 2,035) per sq. m.

In South Germany:

Frankfurt had the weakest y-o-y apartment price hike in South Germany, increasing by 3.29% to €2,600 (US$ 2,827) per sq. m. The same is true for its one- and two-family houses, which rose by only 1.44% to €2,219 (US$ 2,413) per sq. m.

Apartments in Munich enjoy the highest y-o-y price hike in the region, increasing by 10.52% to €4,821 (US$ 5,241) per sq. m. One- and two-family houses had a price increase of 5.75% to €3,627 (US$ 3,943) per sq. m.

In Stuttgart, apartment prices rose by 9.07% to a median price of €2,519 (US$ 2,739) per sq. m., while the median price of one- and two-family houses rose by 8.29% to €2,525 (US$ 2,745) per sq. m.

Berlin’s still cheap, but….

Berlin’s rising rents and overstretched supply of living units is a problem that’s not going to go away on its own. While rents in the German capital are still comparatively cheaper to rates one would find in London, Paris or major US cities, Berliners also generally earn less than their counterparts in other world metropolises.
But Berlin is playing catch-up with its global peers –and the current tightness on the rental market is just a symptom of that.
“Since reunification in 1990, and structural problems have existed for a long time, and now the city is transforming into a world-class city,”

Investment in Berlin startups jumped by €1 billion this year, study shows

Venture capital investments in German startups hit a record level in the first half of 2017, with Berlin seeing a huge rise in funding for its startup scene, a new report shows.
Funding rounds for startups in Germany and the overall value of funding hit record levels in the first six months of this year, a report released this month by professional services firm EY reveals.

Investment Capital Berlin - Source: EY

The total number of investments in German startups rose by 6 percent in comparison with the same period in 2016, to 264.

But the really explosive growth was seen in the overall size of investment. In the first half of this year, €2.163 billion of investors’ money went into startups, an increase of roughly €1.2 billion in comparison with the first half of 2016.

That growth was mainly driven by the e-commerce sector. At €939 million, over 40 percent of overall funding went into e-commerce. But health, FinTech and software startups all saw significant investment growth.

Link to article


Berlin is the fourth largest Meetup city in Europe and one of its fastest growing cities globally. Madhvi Ramani spent an entire day Meetup-hopping to gain a unique view into Berlin and its inhabitants.

It’s 8:30 a.m. and I’m riding the U-Bahn. It’s crowded – at least, as crowded as it gets in Berlin. Everyone is able to hang on to a few inches of personal space as well as their dignity. Still, their rush hour demeanours are familiar: harassed, grim, preoccupied with smart phones and tablets.

I feel smug in my yoga pants, because my day promises to be anything but monotonous. I’ve signed up to an entire day of Meetups – events organised via the social networking website that brings people with similar interests together.

Since the site’s 2002 launch in New York, Meetups can be found all over the globe – but for some reason, Berlin is one of its fastest growing cities. Since its first Meetup was mooted in 2008, it has become the fourth largest city in Europe. What does that say about the city? I’m here to find out.

( . . . )

This, the React Native Meetup is the biggest I’ve been to all day, with almost 300 attendees. Tech Meetups are a popular way for developers and designers to network, and are heavily linked to the city’s burgeoning start-up culture, of which Zalando is one of the major successes. Nearly 30 per cent of all Berlin Meetups are now tech-related.

Officially we’re here to listen some presentations about using React Native, an open-source JavaScript library. Most attendees, however, seem more interested in the boxes of free pizza that are up for grabs. I cram slice after slice into my mouth as my neighbour says that the pizza provided by the Meetups of Berlin-based online bank N26 is better. Some people, it seems, are here with a single agenda – and I might be one of them, as I notice the curiosity and openness I started my day with are gone. As the speaker from Soundcloud begins to talk about using the framework for app prototyping, I lose interest and wander off to the loo.

. . .

Link to the article

Germany Is Building a Wall to Protect the Berlin Wall

An effort to limit damage done to the Cold War landmark by tourists.

Souvenier-seeking tourists have done serious damage to the Berlin Wall, leaving Germany with no choice: A wall in front of the wall will be erected in summer 2018, to protect the landmark structure from further vandalism, reports the Art Newspaper.

This isn’t the first time the idea of a protective barrier in front of the Berlin Wall has been raised. In November 2015, authorities of Berlin’s Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg district, home to the “East Side Gallery” section of the wall, which is covered in murals created in 1990, announced plans to erect a permanent protective fence.

The wall, a designated heritage site, was erected in 1961, dividing citizens of West Berlin from the rest of the city and the surrounding East Germany until November 9, 1989. The wall began coming down in June 1990, but parts of the structure were left intact as a monument.


Link to the full article

Look out, London. Berlin’s startup scene is ready for a Brexit bonanza

Startups that previously looked to London are being wooed by Berlin’s fast-developing scene. But can Germany capitalise on Brexit uncertainty?

At a co-working space on Friedrichstraße, Berlin’s startup economy is getting ready for Brexit. Mindspace’s first location in Germany, opened in April 2016, sits in the heart of Berlin’s Mitte district, flanked by high-end fashion shops and perfumeries. Its walls are adorned with hand-stencilled signs directing people, in English, to the “yummy kitchen” and “awesome offices”. It feels exactly like the startup scene in London – and that’s deliberate. What London stands to lose after Brexit, Berlin hopes to gain.


“Berlin is starting to be considered as a startup ecosystem, particularly targeting the tech startup scene,” says Nijvenko. The company’s “official language”, she explains, is English. All signs, documents and posts on the community’s private Facebook group are auf Englisch. Its co-working spaces bare an uncanny resemblance to a template Silicon Valley, faux-hipster style – superfluous clocks; plush, well-worn armchairs; Communist-era televisions; and work from local artists adorn almost every remaining inch of space. Around 760 members pay between €250 and €450 per month (£215 and £390) to use the space, with the two additional sites in Berlin upping capacity to more than 2,000 people. Business is booming. “The political incentives right now are targeting the startup ecosystem. Berlin is very affordable, so for startups it’s the best place to be,” says Nijvenko.

Link to the article

Bundesbank sees property overvalued in German cities, but no bubble

Residential property prices in German cities are overvalued by 10-20 percent, and even more in some quarters, but there is no property bubble threatening the entire financial system, Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said.

“For Germany as a whole, there is no discernible substantial over-valuation of residential property,” Weidmann said in the text of a speech for delivery in Munich on Wednesday.

Germany did not face the risk of a property bubble as credit growth was not particularly dynamic, and most banks remained fairly conservative in their loan issuance.

But Weidmann said residential property price rises in Germany in recent years had been concentrated in cities, particularly large cities like Munich, and these prices were now significantly over-valued.

“We estimate that prices are between 10 and 20 percent above the values that would be fundamentally justified,” he said, adding that over-valuations were even greater in popular areas of big cities.

“In summary, one can say of the German property market: vigilance is absolutely appropriate, but alarmism is unwarranted.”

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