Buy or rent? For many, this is at best a rhetorical question; owning a house or apartment is usually too expensive, especially in large cities and their surroundings. The average price per square meter of new condominiums in Munich, for example, has fallen from 9,950 to 11,100 euros, the Real Estate Association South recently reported – and that in the last six months alone.
So most of the time, only the rent remains.
But it doesn’t look much better, as a new review from the Homeday broker portal for smaller and larger rental apartments and owner-occupied apartments shows. To do this, not only the prices charged in cities and individual neighborhoods were compared, but they were also related to income. This was based on the respective median local income, that is, the value that is exactly in the middle if all income in the city is ranked according to its level. This consideration means that outliers have less distorting effect, both upward and downward.
The result is, at least in the rental market, quite surprising: of the ten least affordable neighborhoods for families looking for rental accommodation, seven are in Berlin, only two in Munich and one in Hamburg. The reason: in the capital, the net monthly income of a family with two median incomes is 4,377 euros, almost 1,000 euros less than in Munich. Whether in popular areas of Berlin like Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg and Kreuzberg, or in rather quiet areas like Wilmersdorf and Westend: the rental apartments on offer are not affordable for the Median family everywhere. A few days before the referendum on the expropriation of the big landowners of the city, it is an explosive observation.
But that doesn’t mean that Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt or Stuttgart are comfortable for low and middle income people. Even between Hafencity and Haidhausen, Ottensen and Obergiesing, the Median family often has to pay 40% or more of the net monthly rent, according to the data. And with singles, values well above 50% are also reached. However, a maximum of 30 percent is considered economically reasonable, a value that only falls below the 77th place on the list. Here you will find the districts of Cologne and Düsseldorf as well as the outskirts of Hamburg.
But it only gets really cheap elsewhere. For significantly less than 20% of the local median income, singles and families can rent in the east or the Ruhr area, for example in Leipzig, Magdeburg and Chemnitz or in Dortmund, Essen and Duisburg.
The housing sector is going like never before
Of course, this assessment also can’t show the whole picture. By way of comparison, offers on real estate portals on the Internet were considered in the second quarter, for families for example, for rental apartments between 48 and 143 square meters. It was sufficient that at least five different evaluable advertisements appear in each district during the study period. According to the authors, around 30,000 ads in total were included in the comparison. What does not appear with this are, for example, apartments which find a new tenant directly or which are given to their members by cooperatives, often at prices significantly lower than those on the free market. Nevertheless, the result is part of a trend: Corona has not made life cheaper, quite the contrary.
The pandemic has slightly slowed the increase in new rents in large and medium-sized cities, according to a study carried out by real estate economists at the University of Regensburg on behalf of the Hans Böckler Foundation, affiliated with the union. On the flip side, asking prices in more rural areas have also risen – also because many people have left cities in times of foreclosure and home office. Nationally, asking rents have risen another five percent, the researchers say, which is why renter households have to devote an ever-increasing portion of their budget to living.
And there is no end in sight to this development – because the residential space sector is doing like never before. Hamburg’s Gewos Institute expects houses and apartments to be sold and bought for nearly 238 billion euros this year. This would be 7.5% more than the previous year. The number of transactions will increase only slightly, by around 1.4%. For people looking for an apartment, this means above all that it will be even more expensive – when buying and probably also when renting.