How much space is used

property : How much space do people need?

It's actually a paradox. On the one hand, in most major German cities, and especially in Berlin, housing prices and rents are rising faster than they have been in years. On the other hand, the number of inhabitants is falling - according to the latest calculations by the Federal Statistical Office, only 65 to 70 million people will live in Germany in 2060, up to 17 million fewer than today.

So where will the future demand for apartments come from that are currently changing hands for so much money? And shouldn't a long-term investor, with a view to demographic development, keep his hands off apartments and invest his money in stocks or bonds? No, answers Bernd Raffelhüschen, Professor at the Institute for Public Finance at the University of Freiburg and Director of the Research Center for Generation Contracts. Despite the overall shrinking population, a massive loss in value of apartments and houses is not to be expected, he said a few days ago in Stuttgart at the German Real Estate Day of the Real Estate Association Germany IVD.

Raffelhüschen puts forward two arguments: On the one hand, the population decline will initially be moderate and will only accelerate from 2045 onwards. On the other hand, the declining demand for living space will be more than offset by the fact that older people require more living space than younger people. Raffelhüschen has calculated that young single people are satisfied with 45 square meters of living space, while people over the age of 65 occupy an average of 75 square meters. He sees the reason for this in the “remanence effect”. In German: Even if the children have moved out and the partner has died, many older people stay in a single-family house or an apartment that has actually grown too big.

However, this thesis is not undisputed. “Studies assume that in 2050 the consumption of living space per resident will be at least ten percent below the current one for economic and structural reasons,” says Carsten Brinkmann, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Terranus Group, which specializes in senior citizens and healthcare properties. Many people, so the thought, will no longer be able to afford a large apartment.

The aging of the population has a particularly strong impact on owner-occupied residential property. Franz Eilers, head of real estate market research at the research department of the Association of German Pfandbrief Banks (vdp), gives the reason for this: According to him, many people in the growing age group of 60 to 69-year-olds are selling their houses or condominiums. At the same time, the proportion of young households, which traditionally have a high share in property creation, is falling. The consequence, according to Eilers, is that demand is falling.

The “Real Estate Market Report Germany” also suggests that there is a close connection between demographic development and apartment prices. This thick work, which the working group of the expert committees and upper expert committees in the Federal Republic of Germany has just presented, analyzes the actually concluded sales contracts for condominiums and houses from 2010. "The economic and demographic developments in the sub-areas," the authors state, "Have a significant impact on the level and development of rents and prices."

The experts found that in rapidly shrinking regions, the average price for resale apartments fell in 2010 by 1.3 percent to 740 euros per square meter. On the other hand, the average price in fast-growing areas rose by almost four percent to 1,620 euros per square meter. While a buyer in Munich had to pay an average of 3800 euros per square meter for a condominium, in the Thuringian district of Schmalkalden-Meiningen it was only 850 euros per square meter.

Even the otherwise optimistic Bernd Raffelhüschen from the Generation Contracts Research Center fears that the value of residential property in the new federal states, which are particularly hard hit by the population decline, will fall significantly in the long term. According to his calculations, the inhabited area in eastern Germany could fall to two thirds of today's level by 2060.

Nevertheless, buying a residential property can also be worthwhile in eastern Germany - and not only in cities like Potsdam, Dresden, Leipzig and Erfurt, which are bucking the trend and attracting residents. Basically, argues Marcus Cieleback, head of the research department of the listed real estate company Patrizia, the performance depends not only on the number of households, but also on the qualitative demand. “Many households,” explains Cieleback, “want other apartments than the ones that are available.” Even in regions with a declining population, this offers opportunities for landlords who, for example, offer well-equipped apartments for families - or apartments for senior citizens. "What is missing is suitable and affordable living space for older people," confirms Carsten Brinkmann from the Terranus Group.

In autumn, Immobilienscout24 and the Berlin Institute for Population and Development want to present the results of a study on the subject of “Demographic change and the development of property prices”. Perhaps that creates more knowledge than is available now.

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