Decline in Residential Property Prices Persists Across Germany

Thu 16th Nov, 2023

Image by Jens Neumann from PixabayIn positive news for prospective homebuyers, residential property prices in Germany have experienced a notable decrease of 6.3 percent on average in the third quarter of this year compared to the same period last year. These findings, derived from the latest data released by the Association of German Pfandbrief Banks (VDP), analyze information from over 700 German credit institutions involved in real estate financing.

The decline in property prices extends beyond the national average, with a 1.7 percent drop observed in the third quarter compared to the previous one. This decline surpasses the marginal reduction reported in the preceding quarter, reinforcing the emergence of what VDP Managing Director Jens Tolckmitt previously referred to as a "sideways movement" in pricing trends.

However, the stability of prices in major cities contrasts with the national trend. In metropolitan areas, where demand for housing and job opportunities is high, prices experienced a more modest decrease of 1.3 percent compared to the second quarter. A closer look at individual cities reveals significant drops in home ownership costs, notably in Frankfurt am Main (down by 9.1 percent) and a more modest decrease in Berlin (4.7 percent) over the same period.

Concurrently, data published by Greix, the real estate index of universities in Cologne and Bonn, and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), concurs with VDP's findings. According to this research, condominium prices declined by 1.5 percent, and single-family homes saw a more substantial drop of 3.2 percent when adjusted for inflation.

"The renewed price decline in the third quarter is absolutely compelling," remarks Tobias Just, the scientific director of the Irebs Immobilienakademie. Just emphasizes the growing need for more affordable property prices, particularly as interest rates on real estate loans have quadrupled over the past two years, contrasting sharply with the years when buyers could secure debt at minimal costs.

Despite the apparent decline, the VDP data reveals that residential property prices have experienced a cumulative decrease of seven percent since their peak in mid-2022. Nevertheless, this reduction does not adequately offset the impact of heightened interest rates, presenting a challenging scenario for those entering the property market.

The root cause of the sustained stability in property prices, even amidst declining trends, can be attributed to insufficient construction activity in Germany. A stark drop in building permits during the first half of the year has contributed to the limited supply, preventing a significant decline in purchase prices despite rising interest rates. Additionally, the scarcity of available living space has led to a corresponding increase in rents, a trend expected to persist, according to expert predictions.

While the market shows signs of notable price declines, experts caution against anticipating significant drops. The scarcity of construction activity remains a determining factor in maintaining relative stability. Buyers, faced with increased interest rates and high prices in many areas, are adopting a cautious approach, evident in the third-quarter statistics which indicate around a third fewer transactions involving condominiums, single-family, and multi-family homes compared to the same period last year.

Real estate expert Tobias Just anticipates a divergence in price trends, with well-renovated and energy-efficient new buildings likely to maintain stability or potentially increase in value. Conversely, he expects buildings with lower energy efficiency ratings to experience continued depreciation. This asymmetry, Just argues, is a crucial consideration for investors.

In summary, the real estate market appears to favor those with substantial equity, knowledge of reputable craftsmen, or the ability to undertake property renovations independently.

Image by Jens Neumann from Pixabay


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