• Still no signs of overvaluation on the real estate market • The coronavirus pandemic has boosted the appeal of homeownership
Berlin, 9 June 2021 – In 2020, owning a home in Germany was on average 56% more cost effective than renting it. As a result, the cost benefit associated with living in an owner-occupied apartment or house in comparison to a similar rental property grew by around 7.5% year-on-year. This is one of the key findings in this year’s ACCENTRO Housing Cost Report, which has just been published in partnership with the Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW). According to the new study, owner-occupiers pay less than renters for housing in 399 of 401 German districts, including metropolitan areas. As the report’s data reveal, owner-occupiers pay an average of EUR 4.32/sq m, compared with rents of EUR 9.89/sq m on new leases for comparable apartments.
For the purpose of the sixth annual Housing Cost Report, the IW has compared the housing costs paid by owner-occupiers with those paid by tenants, analysing rents and owner-occupiers’ housing costs in all of Germany’s 401 districts and independent cities. All calculations are based on net cold rents (i.e. excluding heating and utilities) versus the costs faced by owner-occupiers, which include the property’s purchase price, incidental acquisition costs, mortgage interest, lost interest on equity and the cost of maintenance and depreciation.
In this year’s report, the IW identifies several factors that have contributed to the substantial housing cost advantage enjoyed by homeowners over tenants: The collapse in mortgage interest rates has pushed the already low costs of homeownership even lower and, despite the fact that property prices have risen, they have increased enough to wipe out the savings from lower interest rates. Tenants do not enjoy this interest rate advantage.
“The ACCENTRO Housing Cost Report 2021 confirms that homeownership is becoming an increasingly attractive investment. The gap between tenant and owner-occupier housing costs has been widening for years. In view of high and rising property prices, combined with historically low interest rates, homeownership is still the best form of private retirement planning”, explains Lars Schriewer, CEO of ACCENTRO Real Estate AG.
Given the extent of the growing housing cost advantage enjoyed by homeowners over tenants, the IW concludes that the housing market in Germany is not overvalued.
According to the ACCENTRO Housing Cost Report 2021, interest rate developments are a key stabilising factor in the German housing market, especially as interest rates are still not expected to rise. Previous studies have suggested that real interest rates tend to decline in the wake of pandemics. Given that interest rates are already only slightly above zero, it is doubtful to say the least whether this scenario will be repeated. In any case, interest rate pressures remain weak, so, in conjunction with sustained high demand for residential property, the study’s authors expect property prices to continue to rise.
“The coronavirus pandemic did nothing to dampen residential property prices in Germany. Pessimistic scenarios involving price declines of 20% have simply not materialised. On the contrary, residential property has actually gained in value as a result of Covid-19”, elaborates Prof. Dr. Michael Voigtländer, Head of the Financial Markets and Real Estate Markets Competence Unit at the IW institute, adding: “Admittedly, we have seen a pause in urban population growth but, with lockdowns relaxing as vaccination campaigns accelerate, we will once again see international migration regain momentum. In the medium term, major cities remain attractive markets where further price increases can be expected”.
The most recent migration estimate reveals that only around 1.18 million people arrived in Germany and around 980,000 left the country. This compares with 1.6 million arrivals in 2019. Based on the latest official forecasts, net migration is expected to be even lower in 2021. Especially in cities such as Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main and Munich, population growth has slowed significantly. However, the high attractiveness of Germany’s major cities and the resurgent demand for skilled workers should soon lead to an increase in population growth again.
Schriewer also assumes that, “The overwhelmingly positive population growth figures and the ongoing excess demand for housing will also drive purchase and rental prices higher in the near future”.
As in previous years, the cost benefits enjoyed by owner-occupiers are not only limited to rural areas or regions with low property purchase prices. Even in Germany’s higher-priced “Big Seven” cities, the gap between housing costs for owner-occupiers and renters ranges from 41.1% in Berlin, 50.3% in Hamburg, 53.6% in Munich, 58.1% in Stuttgart, 60.6% in Frankfurt am Main and 64.3% in Düsseldorf to 65.1% in Cologne. On average, this cost advantage is now more than 7% higher than in 2019.
The appeal of homeownership has grown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Never before have people been spending so much time at home, a fact that has understandably boosted demand for homeownership. However, Germany remains a nation of tenants despite this surge in demand and low owner-occupier costs.
“Once again, we call on the government to do more to support people’s access to the benefits of homeownership. Other governments across Europe, including those in the UK and Belgium, have found ways to provide relief on purchases of residential property, for example by reforming their land transfer tax regimes. Since the equity capital requirements represent the greatest hurdle for most would-be homeowners, we propose state-guaranteed subordinated loans and a reform of the real estate transfer tax, both of which could improve access to home ownership for middle- and low-income households”, said Voigtländer.
“Above all, potential buyers would benefit from measures to reduce incidental acquisition costs, which are, in many cases, the main reason lenders have tightened their equity requirements. This is where the state has the greatest scope for action, for example through tax allowances or a waiver of land transfer tax”, adds Schriewer.
You can download the ACCENTRO Housing Cost Report 2021 here: Housing Cost Report
ACCENTRO Real Estate AG is a residential property investor and Germany’s market leader in housing privatisations. Its real estate portfolio consisted of around 5,200 units as of 31 December 2020. In addition to Berlin, regional focal points include East German cities and conurbations, as well as the Rhine-Ruhr metro region and Bavaria. The business activity of ACCENTRO comprises four core divisions. These are the tenant-sensitive retailing of condominiums to owner-occupiers and private buy-to-let investors, the sale of real estate portfolios to institutional investors, the set-up and management of a proprietary real estate portfolio, and third-party condominium marketing for property asset holders, investors and developers. The shares of ACCENTRO Real Estate AG are listed on the Prime Standard segment of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (German securities code number WKN: A0KFKB, ISIN: DE000A0KFKB3). investors.accentro.de
The Cologne Institute for Economic Research (IW) is a private economic research institute, which aims to promote a better understanding of Germany’s social market economy, focusing on the principles of competition and entrepreneurship. The institute is a registered non-profit organisation and its members include around 110 industrial and employers’ association as well as individual companies. The institute’s primary project partners are foundations, associations, and public-sector institutions.
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