After years of contemplation I have decided to take the plunge and purchase a home in the heart of Europe. Berlin to be exact. At first glance this may appear a little rash, lacking the appeal of the Costa’s or the Riviera, but bear with me, there is method in my madness.
In the 1970’s David Bowie described Berlin as “the greatest cultural extravaganza that one could imagine…”. Coming from the greatest bohemian since Oscar Wilde it was a view that demanded respect and warranted further investigation.
Over the years, acting on David’s recommendation, I have been a frequent visitor, watching with fascination as both the landscape and the population altered.
The initial exuberance following the crumbling of the Wall was gradually eroded as the scale of the mass migration and the necessary re-building project dawned.
Whilst the vitality of the city continued unabated the impact of change created a declining property market that lasted for a decade. In 2003 Governing Mayor, Klaus Wowereit captured the prevailing mood when he admitted that “Berlin is poor, but sexy”.
Four years on, with the economic corner apparently turned, Germany is experiencing a revolution in the attitude to home ownership. In the past, because of low rents and strong legal protection for tenants, the majority have preferred to rent rather than buy.
However, with property prices currently five times cheaper than London, locals and overseas investors alike have seen the potential profits to be made and the market has turned.
Whilst Berlin is not a pretty city, an abundance of charm can be found in any of its districts. Although the occupying forces have long since departed, legacies of their various cultures can still be detected and plays a part in deciding where to buy.
The old British sector of Charlottenburg is popular with apartments obtainable from around 50k upwards. For those with a larger budget the American sector around Wilmersdorf has an abundance of reasonably priced villas.
North of the River Spree, in the previous Soviet sectors of Mitte and Friedrichshain, properties vary widely in both condition and price. Some areas remain rundown but to compensate it hosts the best of Berlins radical nightlife, innovative restaurants, contemporary art and alternative theatres.
As with buying at home, research is the key to achieving a stress-free purchase. The internet is a marvellous tool for creating a shortlist of properties but there is no substitute for putting in the footwork on the ground for ensuring you buy in a area that is right for you.
Buying Fact File
No restrictions on foreign ownership.
Currency is the Euro.
Allow around 7% for fees.
A public notary is used for the conveyance on all real estate contracts.
Real estate agents fees vary but are usually split between vendor and buyer.
Mortgages of up to 70% and a maximum term of 30 years can be obtained from German banks providing proof of income is provided.
Cost of living similar to the UK.
Art & Culture
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