Berlin rising for residential

By Mike Hilton
It’s easy to forget quite how young Berlin as a capital city is. It is still less than 30 years since the demolition of the Berlin Wall, a defining moment in modern European history, perhaps matched only by the UK’s decision to leave the EU.

Since then, the city has grown rapidly: the economy, employment and income have accelerated, with little signs of slowing down as shown by Property Week’s recent report into the city’s post-Brexit opportunities.

Now firmly entrenched as the country’s political centre, business is growing in all sectors, helped by an increasing culture of entrepreneurship.
This has led to strong employment growth which is outstripping the rest of Germany and causing many to flock to the city. Last year Berlin’s population grew by 47,000 and this year is set to eclipse that with 42,000 moving to the city in the last six months alone.
This influx of people, 60% of which were from other European cities, has put even greater pressure on the supply of housing in the capital and a significant supply-demand imbalance now exists.

There are other factors adding to this shortage of housing; in Berlin there is a clear trend towards single person, rental households with an average of 1.8 people per apartment, with around 80% renting. If you were to combine this with the population growth, the calculated new demand sits at around 20,000 new units per annum in order to satisfy the city’s needs.

Slow rate of supply
However, since the early 1990s, there has been virtually no privately financed construction and the rate of new supply continues to fail to meet the considerable demand for homes. 7,000 units were built in multi-family homes in 2015, the majority of which were condominiums at higher price levels.

Condominium prices have doubled since 2010 and by almost 10% in the last year to €3,320. Both are still far below the price levels of other European cities, with a lot of catching up to do – rents for example are still only a quarter of the price they are in London.

Over the last eight years that Phoenix Spree have been investing in Berlin’s residential market, there has been considerable investor interest in the market, attracted by the mix of stable income growth, the potential to modernise and to capture the uplifts from reversionary rental growth as well as the opportunities for increased returns provided by sub-dividing multi-apartment assets for condominium sales.

However, the market remains very fragmented as many buildings remain in private ownership and in need of extensive refurbishment. This, combined with the potential for growth, property values below the cost of construction, underpinned by low interest rates, investor interest remains healthy. It’s no surprise.

Berlin, after years of relative inactivity, is still healing from the effects of its reunification, but is one of the most exciting European cities.

Mike Hilton, Phoenix Spree founding partner

Singapore Startup WB21 to Leave London for Berlin After Brexit

Three months after Britain’s vote to leave the EU, seven firms are moving from London to Berlin

BERLIN—Singapore’s fintech firm WB21 Pte. has decided to move its European head office from London to Berlin, one of the first startups to quit the U.K. in favor of the German capital after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

“Brexit was decisive for us. We had initially planned to operate our European business out of London, but the decision means we lack legal certainty there,” said Chief Executive Michael Gastauer on Friday.

WB21, which launched late last year as a payment service provider, said it would create 200 jobs in Berlin that were initially slated for London. Of WB21’s current 25 positions in London, 20 will go to Berlin. The fintech startup, based in Singapore, offers accounts and international money transfers. As of mid-September, it counted 1 million customers and had sent cross-border payments totaling more than $5.2 billion.

The Brexit decision in June fed expectations that companies with U.K. operations could relocate to avoid losing access to the EU single market, and a number of cities began lobbying companies, including Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin. According to accounting firm KPMG, three-quarters of British chief executives are considering moving headquarters or some operations from the U.K. in response to the Brexit vote.

But an exodus hasn’t materialized, with most decisions pending the outcome of negotiations on the relationship between the U.K. and the EU, which have yet to begin. In addition to uncertainty about trade and business conditions, companies have questions about taxation, labor law and infrastructure elsewhere.

Berlin, which has focused on wooing startups, recently redoubled its efforts to attract companies from London. Right after the Brexit vote, the city’s economics ministry began lobbying hundreds of companies by email, and this month set up a contact office in London.

Three months after the vote, six​ companies have decided to move operations to Berlin, ​besides​ WB21, said Stefan Franzke, head of Berlin Partner, the agency that runs the London office. Among them are real-estate investment platform BrickVest Ltd, web-design company MBJ London Ltd., and finance firm Swissbank Ltd., he said.

The agency is in talks with about 40 other companies about possible relocation, he said.

WB21 expects to get a German banking license in the coming months, allowing it to expand its product portfolio and offer loans, savings accounts and investment products to clients internationally.

“Instead of going through the licensing process and building a bank in the U.K., and then in three or four years perhaps not knowing if we can use it Europe-wide, we decided to come to Berlin,” said Mr. Gastauer. He said Berlin was more attractive than some other places in Europe because Germany’s status as a founding member of the EU made it unlikely to abandon the bloc, he said.

The company called Berlin “one the fintech-friendliest cities in Europe” and said the availability of qualified personnel also made it attractive.

WB21, which stands for ’web bank 21st century,’ plans to invest €50 million in the German capital.

View Article here

Munich at high risk of housing bubble: report

Considering buying property in Munich? This report might make you think twice

Swiss investment bank UBS wrote in a new report on Tuesday that the Bavarian capital had the fifth most overvalued property market in the world, while also considering Frankfurt properties to be bad investments.

Vancouver was considered to have the biggest property bubble, followed by London.

The report examined 18 cities around the world and concluded that six of them were at risk of a housing bubble. Making up the rest of the top-six were Stockholm, Sydney and Hong Kong.

It noted that low interest rates in Europe had contributed to an “overheating” of markets for urban residential properties, particularly in London, Stockholm, Munich and Zurich.

“Germany’s economic boom and very expansionary monetary policy ended 20 years of real house price stagnation in 2010. Subsequently, Munich property prices rose by double digits and have increasingly lost touch with economic fundamentals,” said the report, noting that it now takes a skilled-service worker seven work years to buy a 60 square-metre flat – “an all time high”.

A little further north, in Germany’s finance capital on the Main river, property prices are also once again on the rise.

“Following a breather in 2013, Frankfurt too is showing clear signs of picking up momentum,” the report states.

It goes on to warn that it is impossible to predict exactly when a “correction” will take place in the markets.

“A sharp increase in supply, higher interest rates or shifts in the international flow of capital could trigger a major price correction at any time,” it states.

Over the past year Munich’s real estate prices in Munich – already the highest in Germany – have continued to rise sharply.

Whereas in October 2015 a 60 square-metre apartment cost €6,200 per square-metre, those buying now will have to dish out €6,700 on average, according to online real estate agent Immowelt.de.

In Frankfurt prices have changed relatively little, rising moderately from €3,500 per square-metre to €3,600 in the same period.

In Berlin, property prices still remain well under half those in Munich. A 60 square-metre apartment in the German capital would currently set a wannabe homeowner back €3,100 on average.

View article here

Time To Buy German Real Estate?

A few weeks ago, analysts over at Source Multi Asset Research published a research note highlighting the attractiveness of real estate investment trusts.

Source presented data which showed that year-to-date, real estate (the FTSE EPRA NAREIT index) has been the best performing global asset with a USD total return of 12.6%. Within the US the return is 16.5%, which beats equities, Treasuries, and credit.

But the argument for REITs as an asset class doesn’t stop at the beginning of this year. Indeed, Source analyzed nearly two decades of data and found that real estate had outperformed equities, Treasuries and high-yield since 2000 — almost 16 years of outperformance. The FTSE EPRA NAREIT has generated 2.5 times the return on stocks since 1990. Since 1990 real estate has produced a total return of 13% per annum versus 9.4% equities.

Still, the performance of REITs is dependent upon the performance of the asset class underlying the instrument. REITs will only outperform the wider equity market if real estate markets remain buoyant. With property values looking frothy in traditional real estate investment markets such as London, New York, and Hong Kong investors now seem to be taking a cautious approach to buying in the sector. Nearly a decade of ultralow interest rates has pushed up property values around the world as investors have charged into the asset class seeking high, and stable returns in an uncertain market.

Analysts over at Jefferies believe that there is one real estate market in Europe that is on the cusp of a renaissance after lacklustre returns from the sector for the past few years.

Time to buy German real estate?

A combination of wage growth, negative bund yields, dormant inflation and a booming current account surplus is priming the German real estate market for a demand boom according to Jefferies’ Germany Equity Strategists.

In comparison to other Western Europe real estate market, the German property market is starting from a much lower base, making the region attractive to outside investors. Further, as the country has missed out on the real estate boom taking place in other regions, the country has not been a rush to introduce measures to slow down property price growth. Another reason why the region’s is more attractive to outside investors.

Economic fundamentals are supportive of home price growth. Wages are growing faster than consumer prices and Germany is benefiting from the European Central Bank’s policy of keeping interest rates at, near or below zero.

Overall, Germany is a very attractive place to be looking for real estate at this current point in time:

“With the economy running a large current account surplus at the same time as real rates are negative should ensure that property prices are well bid. One further factor that ought to drive demand is that affordability is still good. Furthermore, the weak euro ought to mean that foreign demand for real estate is also high. Indeed on most straightforward measures of property price to income or rent, Germany comes out as inexpensive.” — Jefferies

Source http://www.valuewalk.com/2016/08/time-to-buy-german-real-estate/

Court rules small victory against Berlin Airbnb ban

A court just issued a small blow to the capital city’s ban on Airbnb-style holiday flat rentals.

A court in Berlin ruled that people with second homes in Berlin may rent out their flats to tourists in a decision that runs counter to a newly implemented ban on Airbnb-style rentals.

Berlin officials passed the ban, which went into effect in May, due to concerns about limited available housing space and rising rental prices. It forbids property owners and tenants from renting out whole flats or houses to tourists through websites like Airbnb.

Those who violate the ban face fines of up to €100,000, although hundreds have nevertheless been flouting the law.

But the court ruling on Tuesday opened up the possibility for people with only second homes in Berlin to rent out their flats to vacationers during the parts of the year when they live in their primary homes.

The three complainants who filed the challenge to the ban live in Rostock in northern Germany, Denmark and Italy.

The court said that renting out a secondary home that otherwise would not be used does not lead to a loss in living space.

“In terms of the availability of housing in the city, it doesn’t make a difference whether a secondary home is rented out or empty while the owner is away,” the court stated, adding that the three owners who complained did not show evidence of abuse of the law in wanting to rent out their Berlin homes.

The court called on neighbourhood officials overseeing the areas where the complainants own their second homes to make an exemption for them from the ban.

Berlin’s ban on the use of sites like Airbnb to rent out whole flats has been met with contention since it first came into force, with dozens of suits being filed against it.

The first legal challenge was shot down in June after four individuals tried to argue that the law ran counter to property ownership rights.

Sources: http://www.thelocal.de/20160809/court-rules-small-victory-against-berlin-airbnb-ban

Berlin identified as the top five ‘opportunity’ markets for expansion of the serviced apartment sector across Europe

Dublin ranked Globally for serviced apartment sector

International real estate advisor, Savills have identified Dublin, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona as the top five ‘opportunity’ markets for expansion of the serviced apartment (also known as the ‘Extended Stay’) sector across Europe.

Dublin, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Berlin and Barcelona were all ranked highly due to them having sizeable corporate and overseas visitor markets with strong outlook in terms of GDP and employment growth. But more importantly they also had very constrained stock levels relative to their overnight visitor market.

According to Savills, €416.5m was invested into Europe’s Extended Stay sector in 2015, a year-on-year increase of 32.9%.

The majority share (90%) was invested into the UK, with Germany (7%), Switzerland (2%) and Belgium (1%) at the forefront of activity within what is a relatively immature asset class on the continent.

In order to identify the new opportunity markets for this sector, the Savills research team analysed the following factors within a matrix of 35 European cities – the presence of large corporates, GDP and employment growth forecasts and overnight visitor market and supply drivers (current stock relative to overnight visitor including that of hotels) for the sector.

Commercial research director at Savills, Marie Hickey says, “We anticipate that evolving consumer trends of millennial business travellers and the success of AirBnB in highlighting alternative accommodation options, such as Extended Stay, across Europe will help the sector further tap into existing unmet demand.”

Source: Link to the Business World’s article

Berlin Is Banning Most Vacation Apartment Rentals

Looking to rent an apartment on your next vacation to Berlin? Starting Sunday, you can basically forget about it. From May 1, Germany’s capital is banning landlords from renting out apartments to short-term visitors, with only a few exceptions permitted.

The penalty for breaking the law is a substantial €100,000 ($113,000) fine — levied on people renting their homes, never on the guests themselves. There will still be some loopholes that allow a few vacation apartments to persist, but it seems that, in Berlin at least, the astronomical rise of Airbnb and other short-stay rental sites is effectively over.

The general lack of apartments in Berlin provoked the law change. Thanks in part to German rent laws that are stricter than most other European countries, short-term rentals are often more profitable for landlords than finding longer-term tenants. In a growing city, that has made good, affordable apartments harder to come by; vacation apartments have taken over large chunks of the most desirable streets, and permanent residents have been frozen out of the market. Estimates vary about the number of permanent vacation apartments in the city, with one recent article pegging it at 14,393 units, out of a total of 1.9 million dwellings in the city.

This has provided a windfall for some landlords (and tenants who sub-let on the sly), but it’s less welcome for the many people searching for their own apartments. Locals’ tolerance of loud, late-partying tourists in their midst has also been wearing thin. Many landlords aren’t pleased with the law change, especially people who rent out apartments short-term in areas that don’t have a problem with party tourism. The Berlin Senate’s ruling nonetheless reflects a general feeling across a city in which homes are getting harder to find: Berliners have had enough and they want their city back.

 

Read more here – http://www.citylab.com/housing/2016/04/airbnb-rentals-berlin-vacation-apartment-law/480381/

Berlin’s rental market a nightmare to many

The German capital’s rental market is undergoing dramatic changes. The amount of affordable apartments to rent is has been going down, and a trend reversal is not really in sight, as DW’s Janelle Dumalaon reports.

Couples, students and young professionals mill around in front of a building in south Berlin’s trendy Neukölln district, drawn by an advertised viewing of a studio apartment. Around 20, then 30 hopeful flat-hunters patiently trudge up the stairs to the fourth floor, to inspect the 40-square meter studio apartment.

An hour later, at another viewing for another, slightly bigger apartment a block away, the same group of people, save for a few additions, would run into each other again – and probably not for the last time. It came as a result of surprise to few of them – by now, most have learned that competition for an apartment to rent in Berlin is increasingly fierce, and only an exhaustive search bears fruit.

Berlin, once known for the cheap housing that’s attracted especially artists and other people from creative disciplines, is struggling to cover a demand that’s skyrocketed in the last years, pushed up by increasing migration to the city.

Lengthy landlord wishlists

“The competition is the hardest part,” said Angela Buch, a Berlin-based editor of scientific publications. I go to these mass apartment viewings, I’ve even been to one where 80 people came at a time.”

The demand means landlords and lessors really are spoiled for choice, Buch said.

“The application requirements for applying for an apartment are getting more and more outrageous,” said Bush. I’ve had to submit complete bank account statements, and many landlords want to see proof of permanent job contracts, which not that many people really have in Berlin.”

http://m.dw.com/en/berlins-rental-market-a-nightmare-to-many/a-19213690#fromDesktop&xtref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

Germans flock to property as interest rates fall and rents rise

Unlike his parents who rented their whole life, Berlin resident Sebastian lives in his own apartment and is considering buying a second property in the German capital as an investment to top up his pension one day.

For decades a nation largely of tenants and prudent savers, growing numbers of Germans are buying property, not just to own their homes but also in search of investment returns they can no longer earn on their bank savings.

This shift to a more U.S. or British approach to property is being encouraged by the European Central Bank’s cheap money policies and rising rents, especially in German cities.

A growing urban population and unexpectedly high immigration are pushing up a housing market where construction rates had been low for years.

“I’ve a private pension scheme, but despite diligent saving, it hardly yields anything due to the ultra-low interest rates,” said Sebastian, a 38-year old management consultant, who asked not to be named in full because he does not want clients to know about his personal financial affairs.

While Sebastian bought his first apartment six years ago to escape rising rents, he now wants to buy a second property as a private retirement fund.

In the years that followed the fall of the Berlin Wall, property prices in the city were significantly lower than in the likes of London or Paris. But the German capital is no longer a cheap place to live.

“The problem now is: it’s really difficult to find an apartment in Berlin which is not totally overpriced,” said Sebastian.

Figures from the European Union’s statistics agency show 52.5 percent of Germans lived in their own home in 2014, well below the EU average of around 70 percent. But this is sharply up from 2006 when, according to separate data from the German Federal Statistics Office, the level was about 42 percent.

Strong demand for homes is fuelling a construction boom that is helping to support the German economy while exporters, who traditionally drive growth, struggle due to a slowdown in some of their major markets such as China.

In the last three months of 2015, construction was one of the biggest growth contributors while net trade was a drag. In the first two months of 2016, building investment further increased, raising hopes of a strong first quarter.

However, concerns are growing that a property bubble may be inflating at least in some cities. If it bursts one day – a scenario that could be created by rising interest rates, higher unemployment and changing demographics – owners and lenders alike could be hurt, posing a risk to medium-term growth.

A shortage of affordable housing is also forcing poorer families out of cities, widening the social gap in one of Europe’s richest societies and raising tensions after a record one million migrants arrived last year alone.

BENEFITING FROM THE BOOM

So far, Sebastian has benefited from the boom. After studying in London and Boston where rent ate up a large part of his scholarships, he returned to buy a 100 square metre (1,100 square foot) apartment in Berlin’s then up-and-coming Wedding district. For the 120,000 euro ($135,000) purchase, he borrowed 100,000 euros in 2010 on an interest rate of 3.8 percent.

“From today’s point of view, this was a bargain,” Sebastian said, adding that he could now probably sell the flat for twice the price, if not even more.

Many others have followed suit. Comparing prices on property websites has become a hobby for many Germans and real estate is a frequent topic of conversation at parties.

“The demand for owner-occupied flats in Berlin has been booming since 2010 and it has increased in the last two years,” said Christian von Gottberg, a real estate agent at the Engel and Voelkers.

First-time buyers tell Gottberg how landlords are raising rents for a third time within a couple of years. “So whoever can afford it, and has the financial means to meet the bank requirements for the deposit, opts for their own apartment.” Continue reading here – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3556269/Germans-flock-property-rates-fall-rents-rise.html

most expensive luxury flat sold in Berlin

The priciest flat by space in Germany was not sold to the elites in business-rich Bavaria, nor in the billionaire-dense port city of Hamburg.

Berlin, whose unemployment rate stands at twice the national average, holds the title of selling the most expensive apartment on the German market, according to Engel & Völkers real estate agency.

That flat was sold recently for a whopping €19,018 per square metre in the central Mitte district, newspaper B-Z reported on Tuesday.

This put it slightly ahead of the most expensive flat in Hamburg at €19,000 per square meter.

Engel & Völkers had recently released an analysis of the German luxury flat market, examining trends from apartments on sale in the first half of last year.

“Many new real estate developments in recent years have seen Berlin catch up considerably in the premium market segment,” wrote Engel & Völkers in the report.

But Berlin, dubbed “poor but sexy” by former mayor Klaus Wowereit, still has some catching up to do to be overall on par with its richer rivals in the north and south.

While Berlin’s ritzy Mitte flat was the most expensive by price per square meter, Hamburg topped the charts for having the most expensive flat in absolute terms at €13 million, followed by one in Munich at €12.6 million. The most expensive flat on the market in Berlin during this time period was €5.6 million.

In 2014, Berlin set a record when it sold a €5.7 million apartment in Mitte.

But the Bavarian capital last year did have the highest average prices for luxury flats (defined by Engel & Völkers as the highest five percent of the market). Munich “dream homes” average €4.5 million, compared to €1.6 million on average on Berlin.

continue reading – http://www.thelocal.de/20160413/berlin-sells-off-germanys-most-expensive-luxury-flat