Ask Govesta

Why has it become so difficult to buy an apartment in Berlin?

The German capital has become the go-to alternative metropolis for Millenials seeking a simpler life

Q: Like many other overworked and overwhelmed Londoners I have fallen in love with the German capital and would like to purchase an apartment in Kreuzberg, Schöneberg or Mitte. From my late night trawling of various internet sites and forums, I have gleaned that there is masses of bureaucracy involved and a lack of apartments for sale in my preferred neighbourhoods. Is it going to be impossible for an English speaking ‘Auslander’ to find an apartment in Berlin?

A: Berlin has indeed become a very popular destination for the stressed-out urbanite seeking solace in the famously laid back German capital. This has of course driven up property prices and reduced housing stock. There are still apartments out there, you just have to be a little more savvy and persistent. 

Finding a Home in Berlin

Firstly, you may be restricting yourself by only looking at properties in three neighbourhoods, why not spend some time in Berlin and check out some other areas? Prenzlauer Berg may be a good alternative to Mitte, for example. Casting your net wide will help you in this crowded market.

Build personal relationships with several ‘Immobilien Makler’ or estate agents. Tell them exactly what your requirements are and if they are worth their salt, they will approach you with new properties before they hit the market. 

Purchasing a Property in Berlin

Now we can move on to the fun part: The bureaucracy. Finding a good tax consultant is essential, as additional fees and taxes can be up to 15% of the purchase price, a brief overview here:

  • Notary costs (Notar): 1-2%
  • Land registry office fee (Grundbucheintrag): 0.5%
  • Property transfer tax (Grundwerbsteuer): 6%
  • Agents fees are an average of 7.14% (This could more, depending on the agent’s fee structure)

Finally, be your own man or woman on the ground, I have known many hopefuls try and fail at finding an apartment remotely. Immerse yourself in the city and you will have a much better chance of finding your perfect Berlin home.