Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Data and facts on the housing shortage
Germany is following the demand
From Max Borowski
Success or failure? Two and a half years after its “residential summit”, the federal government takes stock.
The real estate purchase prices and rents in many parts of Germany continue to rise – especially in the big cities, where the housing shortage is particularly pressing. According to an evaluation by the Immowelt apartment portal, the rents demanded in advertisements rose in part significantly in the Corona year 2020 despite the pandemic in 67 of the 80 largest cities. In the past few years, purchase prices for apartments and houses have increased even more than rents. This shows that the pressure on the housing market is even greater than is reflected in the rents, which are heavily regulated – and not just because of the rent cap in Berlin.
The federal government speaks of a success of its building policy in the past few years. In fact, the number of approved apartments has risen sharply again in Germany since the historic low of construction activity at the end of the noughties. However, it is still below the average number of 375,000 apartments per year promised two and a half years ago at the federal government’s housing summit.
The so-called construction overhang currently adds up to more than 750,000 approved but not built apartments. What critics see as an indication of speculation with building plots is, according to the construction industry, a normal time buffer, as companies first have to build up their capacities after years of ebb in the order books.
Housing construction fluctuates strongly
For this year the state development bank KFW expects that for the first time in over 20 years more than 300,000 apartments will be completed. For comparison: In the 60s, 70s and early 90s, more than twice as many apartments were built per year. In 2009 just 160,000.
Where does the rising demand for housing in Germany come from? With only a few short outliers, the population has been shrinking or stagnating for many years. On the one hand, however, many people have moved to the large metropolises and booming medium-sized cities, so-called swarm cities, in recent years. Above all, however, Germans live in ever larger areas per person. According to experts, the reason for this is the growing number of couple or one-person households in large houses or apartments.
That has to do with demographic trends To do: More and more elderly people stay in their family home after the children have long since moved out and their partner has died. As a result, the current demand for single-family homes is increasing, although the number of family households is falling in the long term.
Don’t just build
Many experts also see an approach to solving the housing shortage here alongside the slow new construction: housing could be better distributed with government support. Because in some cases older people live in large apartments because they have a long-term, low-cost rental contract and moving to a smaller apartment would be too expensive given the high rents under new contracts.
In addition, politics could make rural regions, in which rents and purchase prices have been falling for years, more attractive again – through better transport connections to prosperous cities, through investments in daycare centers, schools and other public facilities and in digital infrastructure. During the Corona crisis in particular, many employees discovered the benefits of working and living far away from the office. But bumpy internet connections prevent them from moving to the countryside in many places.