Berlin Has a Long and Interesting History
Berlin has long served as center of Germany. Even when the city was divided and no longer served as the capital of the country, it remained prominent commercially and culturally to the German people. Large numbers of foreign artists have long resided in the city giving it a highly cosmopolitan feel.
Berlin has not been subject to the sort of sprawl that besets many large cities. It remains a relatively compact but densely populated metropolitan area where the majority of inhabitants live in multi unit, multi story apartment houses,
In recent years, there has been a growing trend among affluent buyers to show a preference for units in older buildings built before the 2nd World War. Given that the city was long a major metropolis before then, there are thousands of such units in the city. A recent survey noted that more than a quarter of apartment buildings were built before the end of World War I, 1918. The structures that survived from this era were well built and are considered to hold far more charm than buildings more recently constructed.
Such charm does not come cheap these days. Older apartment averaged about $191,000 in selling price in 2011. That works out to around $207 per square foot. These figures were tabulated by the German property research firm Winters and Hirsch.
By comparison, units in buildings built between 1970 and 1990 run around 17% less than the older places while those constructed from 1949 to 1979 are cheapest of all dropping an additional 15%.
Higher Costs in Older Units
Buyers of such older units will find that they are more expensive to maintain. Real estate agents also warn that many older buildings fall under restrictions imposed by the government’s ensemble protection laws. These statutes are part of the city’s effort to preserve the historic nature of designated neighborhoods. Owners of such structures are forbidden to alter the façade of their buildings in any significant manner. Permission must be sought for altering such items as windows and doorways. Historic preservation laws add another layer of oversight to some buildings, but only about 3% of the buildings fall under such restrictive covenants.
These regulations can prove burdensome since many older buildings are poorly ventilated. Lack of proper air circulation can contribute to mold problems that are accentuated by Berlin’s fairly damp climate. Proposals have been made to alter these restrictions to accommodate such problems and to allow for additional changes that would allow for greater energy efficiency.
Such extensive changes could well cause prices to rise even higher both because of the costs involved as well as the fact that the results would be more desirable units. As it is, some foreign buyers have taken to renting their apartments out for well to do vacationers. Berlin is becoming an increasingly visited tourist destination.
Because of the growing demand, it is becoming increasingly difficult to secure a high end older apartment in Berlin, but it is easier to rent them out to vacationers.