Some of the cheapest housing of any major European city is attracting a wave of foreign buyers to the German capital, promising a new property boom after a false start after the fall of the Berlin Wall nearly 20 years ago.
Buyers from Britain, Scandinavia, Ireland and the US are leading the rush to snap up apartments in the once-divided city, making the 12 months up to last November the busiest on the property market since World War II, estate agents say.
Foreigners were responsible for 70 percent of the transactions, the German federation of estate agents said, with Danes spearheading the march. The interest is so high that Danish estate agents have opened offices in the city.
One Danish agent, Esben Tjalvi, said Danes found the prices too good to resist: "At 1,500 to 2,000 euros [US$2,200 to US$2,950] per square meter, it's up to four times cheaper than in Copenhagen and Stockholm," Tjalvi said.
But private buyers alone do not account for the eye-popping 28 percent rise in turnover in the first half of last year -- that is thanks to the muscular presence of investment funds that are snapping up dozens of apartment blocks.
Cerberus Capital Management and Goldman Sachs' Whitehall fund have invested 2.1 billion euros since 2004.
"In Berlin, the price per square meter is one of the cheapest of any major city in Europe, including those in eastern Europe," said Andrea Magnoni, the Italian cofounder of the Valore fund.
"The return for investors is higher than anywhere else at between 7 and 8 percent compared to 3.5 percent in Milan because even if the rents are moderate the purchase prices are always low enough to guarantee a good rate," he said.
Investors are speculating on rents rising.
The influx of investors to Berlin is having a marked effect on the landscape of the city.
Whole streets are being renovated without the city authorities having to dig into their already massively stretched finances. The decrepit apartments with coal-fired heating and toilets on the landing are disappearing and new shops are opening.
This in turn is creating jobs, not only in the property sector but also in the building trade.
But Berliners fear that the property boom is threatening to change the character of a city that has an alternative feel.
The once rare occurrence of tenants forced to leave so that the owner can raise rents is now becoming more common, some say.
Meanwhile, luxury apartments are mushrooming, with prices well beyond the reach of most residents in a city where 11 percent of the population is unemployed and thousands of students and hard-up artists make their home.
INCURSION: After 13 PLA aircraft flew into Taiwan’s ADIZ, the US Department of State said that China should rather ‘engage in meaningful dialogue’ with Taiwan US President Joe Biden’s administration on Saturday urged China to stop placing military pressure on Taiwan, while calling on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to engage in peaceful dialogue. The statement by the US Department of State was issued after 13 Chinese military aircraft flew into Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Saturday, the highest number observed in a single day this year, the Ministry of National Defense said. The air force scrambled fighter jets to monitor the Chinese aircraft, issuing radio warnings and mobilizing air defense assets until the planes left the ADIZ. The US “notes
‘INCREASED VIGILANCE’: A source of infection has not yet been found for the latest two cases in a hospital cluster, which should serve as a warning, Chen Shih-chung said A total of 2,991 people associated with a COVID-19 cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital have been put under home isolation, after an emergency expanded isolation order was issued on Sunday evening, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. Fifteen people have so far tested positive in the cluster infection. The first case in the cluster (case No. 838) was reported on Jan. 12 — a doctor who treated an infected patient who had returned from the US. Contact tracing for the first 13 cases found connections to case No. 838, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who
FAMILY UNIT: The CECC warned that the eldest sister of the latest case, who also has COVID-19, visited Taoyuan’s Chungping evening market on Tuesday and Wednesday The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported a domestic case of COVID-19, associated with a recent cluster infection at Taoyuan General Hospital, and two imported cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that the latest case (No. 885) is a woman in her 50s, who is the third daughter of case No. 881, a man in his 90s. The woman is the main caregiver of her elderly father, who had been hospitalized earlier this month and was treated by a nurse (case No. 852) from Monday to Thursday last week, he said, adding that
DUBIOUS HONOR? A man in his 90s, who tested positive yesterday and is part of the Taoyuan hospital cluster, is the oldest person in Taiwan to have contracted COVID-19 Taiwan yesterday recorded six new imported cases of COVID-19 and two new domestic cases, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said, adding that the local infections are linked to the cluster at Taoyuan General Hospital, which now totals 12 cases. One of the domestic cases is a man in his 90s, who was treated earlier this month at Taoyuan General Hospital and tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday last week, four days before he was discharged, the center said in a statement. After one of the nurses on the ward was confirmed on Saturday last week to have contracted COVID-19, the