Germans turn their backs on renting with new property boom

Is German property set to soar? On 13 June, Phoenix Spree Deutschland floats in the UK, giving armchair investors instant exposure to German real estate especially in Berlin.

German real estate has a slightly flat investment reputation. When the Wall fell, general optimism spilled over into property. A mini bubble grew, then got stuck. It was thought that corporations would move to Berlin. They didn’t. Decline set in.

Phoenix took flight when a group from UBS began investing in Berlin. Soon, others wanted to chip in. “We left UBS in 2006 and raised about €90m from high-net worth investors,” says Mike Hilton, fund manager at Phoenix.

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Dresden now the city of choice for real estate players

Real estate junkies looking for what’s hot in Germany are increasingly eyeing a city in the east that’s become one of the main successes of reunification: Dresden.

“Munich is too expensive, Hamburg is too expensive, Berlin is getting too expensive, so investors are looking for the next best thing, and that’s Dresden,” said Ronald Fiedler, head of the Engel & Voelkers real estate agency in the city.

Dresden — the capital of the state of Saxony located 200km south of Berlin — is undergoing a real estate boom that picked up steam as German companies expanded following the global financial crisis.

Prices for newly built apartments in the city have gained 47pc in the past five years, outpacing the national average of 30pc and Berlin’s 33pc, according to research firm Bulwiengesa.

The city’s success is a chief reason why Germany chose it to host a meeting of Group of Seven finance ministers and central bank chiefs starting next Wednesday.

Since reunification, the historic centre has been stitched back together around the Church of Our Lady that was rebuilt from a pile of rubble — left from the gutting of the city by Allied bombings at the end of World War II.

The image of the Church of Our Lady looking out across a devestate central Dresden after the city was firebombed towards the end of the war, bu the city has recovered and rebuilt since 1945 and that process then accelerated after the rejuvenation of of Germany in 1991.

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Colossal Nazi holiday camp converted to luxury seaside apartments

With estate agents waxing lyrical about the “smell of the sea, the scent of pines and panoramic views of nature” you could almost be forgiven for forgetting the sinister past of the luxury Baltic seaside apartments at New Prora, which were purpose built for 20,000 members of Adolf Hitler’s Aryan “master race”.

Comprising a single and monstrous five-storey concrete housing block stretching almost three miles along the sand dune and pine-studded coast of the east German island of Rügen, the former Prora holiday camp is one of the longest buildings in Europe. It was designed as the Nazis’ answer to Butlin’s.

Now, 76 years after it was built,  the first full-time tenants are moving in to the so-called “Colossus of Rügen”. After decades of inaction and shame about its Nazi past, the complex is being gradually turned into luxury flats. Fifty-seven have been sold, the lowest priced costing €176,000 for  a small three-room apartment.

The knowledge that the site of his flat was meant to provide “quality time” for the German masses under the Nazi “Strength Through Joy”  recreation programme did not seem to worry its new owner Roland Glöckner.

“It may sound peculiar, but it was love at first sight,” said the 51-year-old Berlin advertising executive after moving in to his 60sq metre flat.

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The 5 best coffee shops in Berlin

Every city has a personality, but few European cities are as unique and iconic as Berlin.

The German capital is the perfect mix of regal architecture and rough urban streetscapes, beautiful laneways and grungy concrete, vintage shops and cutting-edge modern spaces.

Berlin is wonderfully rich in history and culture, and its coffee scene reflects this richness.

1. Oliv

Cafe Oliv Facebook/Oliv

On a pretty street corner in the fashionable district of Mitte, Oliv has a warm, welcoming feel and some of the best coffee in town.

Their homemade teas are also wondrous: order a mint tea and you’ll receive a sprig of fresh, leafy peppermint in a tall glass. Plus their food is wholesome and simple; think autumnal vegetable salad and crispy hot croissants.

2. Godshot

Godshot coffeeFacebook/Godshot

Berlin’s modern cafe scene is booming and Godshot is one of the main forerunners. The space is sleek, the baristas are experts and the beans are perfect. An ideal spot to recharge one afternoon.

Plus names don’t get any cooler than this; perhaps we should start calling espresso shots “godshots” from now on…………

Checkpoint Charlie Sites Said to Be Sold to Berlin Developer

The last development sites at Checkpoint Charlie, the most famous border crossing between former East and West Berlin, are being sold after years of laying fallow, three people with knowledge of the deal said.

Trockland Management GmbH, a local developer agreed to buy loans on the two plots in the city center from Irish bad bank National Asset Management Agency, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the sale is private. Trockland will pay about 85 million euros ($95 million) and plans to build mostly homes, in addition to stores and a hotel, two of the people said.

A representative for Trockland declined to comment. A spokesman for NAMA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Checkpoint Charlie was a border crossing in West Berlin controlled by the western Allies — the U.S., U.K., and France – – until the opening of the Berlin Wall. Since German reunification, the site has become a tourist attraction where hawkers in G.I. costumes charge for photos and souvenir shops sell fake Berlin Wall fragments. Tenants in the area include Starbucks Corp., a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a sausage museum.

The plots, one on either side of upscale shopping street Friedrichstrasse, have a total of 9,100 square meters (98,000 square feet), according to to BNP Paribas Real Estate, the broker that marketed the properties.

Dublin-based Cannon Kirk bought rights to develop the land in 2007, and during the financial crisis, Ireland’s bad bank National Asset Management Agency took over the debt, BNP said in September.

A spokeswoman for BNP declined to comment.

The area abuts two of Berlin’s most expensive neighborhoods: Mitte and Kreuzberg. Twenty-six years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the little remaining wasteland that once separated East from West is still prized by investors because it’s centrally located.

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Keen to own a piece of Berlin? Choose from shabby or upmarket chic

Internet startups, international musicians and artists have made Berlin their home base for more than a decade.

This “creative class” – key to a lively world city, urban studies experts say – has lifted the German capital to its feet.

“Berlin used to be a relatively poor city,” said Sebastian Fischer, managing director of real estate agents Engel & Volkers. But with reports that five Internet startups are founded here daily, and a GDP that has grown consistently since 2008, the capital is looking less shabby and more chic.

Now, luxurious apartment buildings are rising near the route of the demolished Berlin Wall. Chunks of central Berlin still remain vacant. But within the bounds of strict rules designed to keep property speculation at bay, healthy rejuvenation is taking root. (keep reading here)

Filling Berlin’s Gaps

Bold buildings are sprouting in areas that have remained barren since World War II

On a dusty parking lot in central Berlin, where U.S. bombs leveled homes and offices in 1945, Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas is planning a beehive-like digital media center for publisher Axel Springer. A 15-minute bike ride away, on the former site of an iron foundry, architect Daniel Libeskind is completing a titanium-wrapped apartment building crowned with a soaring penthouse. Across the Humboldthafen canal, a new neighborhood with a tree-lined boulevard flanked by shops, homes, and offices is rising where rail-switching yards stood before they were wiped out during World War II. (continue reading)