Advice on buying an apartment in Berlin

Estate agents, flat listings, other general info

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I'm going to be staying in Berlin for two months starting in September and will be looking to buy a flat there. I have spent a lot of time there over the past year and have completely fallen in love with the place. As often as I know I will be there, I know having my own place will be a better option than paying rent each time I visit. I am also considering staying there permanently someday.

My question is, can anyone reccommend a good real estate agent, or is it just better to look at the listings online or in the paper? I have found some resources in this forum regarding rentals, but I'm looking to buy.

My boyfriend speaks German and helps me out with that, but when doing business like this, I would prefer it to be in English so nothing gets lost in translation. I AM trying to learn German, but I've got a LONG way to go before I can master it. If anyone has any reccommendations, let me know.

Dutchie [UK]
Hi Paula,

From what I gather if you want to buy in Berlin people will fall over each other to get your business. I would trawl through some of the following sites to get an idea of whats out there

If you have an idea of what you are looking for or you find something you like email the agency and ask if they have anyone who can assist you in English. You will find most will oblige

I would sit down with your partner who can give you the basic rundown of how these online sites work as they all operate on the same principles.

Good luck
Thanks so much for those links, I will check them out!

Do you think it is reasonable to be looking for a maximum price of 80K? I'm looking for a 2 room (1 bedroom and 1 living room) apartment, preferably in Prenzlauerberg or possibly Mitte (though I know Mitte may be more difficult to find something). I would consider Freidrichshain or Kruezberg but I'm not very familiar with those areas yet and I'm not sure if I would like them or not.
It's not always worth it to buy a flat though as you will still have to pay hausgeld every month and this can be about 200euro a month for a 2 room flat (depends on the owners of the building and whether everyone else in the building pays, which in berlin means probably not). You'd obviously have to pay this even if you werent in the flat, which would make it quite expensive if you're not permanently moving in soon.
Dutchie [UK]
Hi Laura,

IMHO if you are going to buy property in any capital city in the Western world it would have to be Berlin so I am not sure I agree with you that its not worth buying in Berlin. Are you sure the Hausgeld is so much? 200 Euro per month seems very steep. I though the rule of thumb was about 1 Euro/m². So a 60 m² apartment should cost aprox 60 Euro per month. This would go towards the depeciation of the building and general upkeep. There is then the side costs (Nebenkosten) which covers the utility costs which is the same if you buy or rent.

Please let me know if it is different in Berlin especially P-Berg.

my friend has one room and a kitchen big enough to sit in and pays 175 a month. Some of the really tiny ones i was looking at were 150, just because nobody else in the building was paying so they kept putting it up to cover that. that was near hermannplatz. i'm sure there were will be lots cheaper than this, but the cheapest i saw was 100 a month for a studio.
but then the flat might go up in value so you would have made/saved money that way.

Me and the missus might be moving to Berlin or Munich depending on who takes which job and we'd rather buy a property. I've been reading a lot of the entries and it seems like you can only get properties through an agent? Do owners not sell directly? Is there a law that says agents must be involved?

I also see that initial payments run about 30-40% of the purchase price. Does anyone have experience with using a non-German lender for better terms and rates?

Thanks in advance,
the ones i was looking at were mostly private through ads in zweite hand, not sure if this link will work but
OK. I've made the decision. I love Germany and particularly Berlin. I love the dynamicism. I love the culture (maybe I don't love Angela Merkal but hey-the-ho not keen on Blair anymore either). I want to live and work there. I'm thinking of remortgaging my (UK) house to buy property in Berlin (preferably, but love Bavaria too) with a view to renting out what I buy until I can find a job for myself and my partner (I'm a website developer/programmer/ICT Manager, my significant other a professional photographer link to her website) can find jobs there. We are off to Berlin in particular looking for property on two trips in October and November. Stop us!!! Otherwise advise us please; where are the best (cheapest) areas to search in for property, what are the pitfalls we should be wary of, any job agencies recommended etc. We need ground-floor accom with garden because we have four cats BTW. Any comments thankfully appreciated.

Topics merged by admin

PS Thanks Editor Bob for the threadmerge!

I've copied and pasted below a response i made a couple of weeks back to a similar post. I've just bought a place in Berlin (Tiergarten) as an investment. I paid € 25 k for a 42 sq metre 1.5-Zimmer apartment that could do with a lick of paint and a new kitchen but is otherwise fine. You wouldn't get a garden shed in the UK for that!!

Will be happy to answer any questions. Good luck

I agree that the German property market is different from the UK but in the case of Berlin I cannot see how anyone can lose out based on current property prices. I researched thoroughly before committing and after a very steep learning curve i would be happy to offer a few tips for anyone considering doing it.

1. Average price is approx € 1,000 per square metre in reasonable areas i.e. not the top locations but also not "little Istanbul". This price is comparable to nice areas of Warsaw, Budapest, Bratislava and Prague. In Berlin wages are about triple what they are in comparable East European capitals. This anomaly will not last forever. Market forces will dictate that.

2. Prices are pretty much rock bottom at the moment. Between 1989 and 1994 prices went up by ca. 40% and they have now gone back to what they were pre-Wende. Yes there is a glut of housing which has driven down prices, but there is still demand for rental property in popular areas. I would not buy anywhere in Lichtenberg or Hoeheschonhausen in a million years but if you stay in the central or western districts there is demand there.

3. Sooner or later prices will go up. Germans are negative about investing in property because they have seen their economy go up shit creek over the past few years. Would your average punter living in SE England have advocated investing in property in 1993. Probably not. But if he had have done he would've been laughing all the way to the bank right now.

4. Unemployment and lack of demand from the domestic market will not completely dictate property prices. Many large companies and the city council are selling blocks of apartments to foreign investors and funds. This will increase once the property boom in Eastern Europe comes to an end. Coupled with this, where else in Western Europe apart from France is property still affordable to your average joe? Germany (and Berlin in particular) is a unique case. It is not reliant on good weather and Easyjet flights to stimulate property investment from foreigners.

5. In some areas of Berlin it is cheaper to buy property than it is to build somewhere from scratch. This goes to prove that the price of housing cannot fall any further.

Sorry forgot to mention the Hausgeld on my place is € 166 per month but my tenant pays most of that in his Warmmiete.
This is great info, thank you. I am now in Berlin and have started my search for a flat.
The only difference for me is that I'm not looking to rent it out to anyone at this time. I want to have it for myself, for when I visit here, which is often. (and of course the possibility of living here permanently later on). I'm finding prices to be pretty high in Prenz-berg. I'm curious on your opinion of Kreuzberg or Friedrichshain. I haven't explored those areas yet and I don't know what they are like. Also, it seems unusual for a person to want to buy a flat for his/herself. Either people rent or buy as an investment. Do you think my situation will be difficult because of this?
Probably best off asking a local about which areas are best to live in because i am English born & bred and have never lived in Berlin. But from a capital growth / popularity point of view I think Tiergarten and Friedrichshain are both good bets. Both very central...Friedrichshain is becoming quite trendy in an alternative sort of way. Tiergarten is right next to the new Hauptbahnhof and loads of government ministries so housing is in demand there. Some areas are rapidly gentrifying as a result of this redevelopment of the area. Kreuzberg isn't a bad bet but do your homework because some parts are less desirable. Can't see you making much money on anywhere in Prenzl' Berg because the area is already very trendy and gentrified (also read expensive). Treptow is also a lovely area, still quite central, clean and cheap.

Even though i am an investor rather than a holiday home buyer i still think the same criteria apply. When i was looking i was thinking to myself all the time "could I live in this area / would my mates want to come here on holiday?". Plus when you are not there yourself you can make a bit on the side by letting it out for long weekends to friends and family, which is another reason why you would want somewhere in a good, reasonably central but not expensive area.

One last point - there are rundown and dodgy areas of Berlin but nowhere that is as dangerous as some of the ghettoes in UK cities.
Well, I've looked at 6 different apartments in 3 different buildings over this past week and have narrowed it down to one that I am very interested in. Question is, should I wait and see if I find something else? I'm afraid if I don't decide soon, someone will take this one out from under me and then I have to start all over. Is a week too short to make a decision? The one I like is in a very nice location in Prenzl-berg and the building and apartments are fully renovated. the inside of the apartment is brand new and all the finishings (floors, kitchen etc) are good quality, there is adequate sunlight during the afternoon, and even though it is just one room, it is bigger than the other 1 room apartments I've looked at. It also has a terrace. I'm going to look at it again today but he's also showing it to someone else so I'm getting nervous. What should I do?
Hello, I stumbled here because I am in Berlin in January 07 and i will settle there and look for a small flaty to buy. last time I was in berlin I had trouble finding properties for sale. I am wondering if any of you have advice to give... is it best to leave it all till I am there, or should I start right now doing some reserach (it is almost january!), if you have any good contacts that i could relay on, i would appreciate those aas well!


Some excellent advice here, i run a company that advises clients looking to buy in Berlin, we charge a fee to search and locate the best property for your budget sort finance etc, but it's all something you can do yourself with a little time and good planning, my tips ARE:

1) and this is the golden rule IN bERLIN, get finance first, then start to look for an apartment, if you do it the other way around your dream apartment will be gone as somone with finance in place or a cash buyer will snap it up, if you are a cash buyer fine, no prob.

2) once you have finance set out your wish list ie size location facilities etc, on location think about re sale or rental, what is cool to you may not be to others.

3) set aside time to view apartments during the day, that will give you a head start over many people.

4) take care over areas, safe potential hot spots in the west side I think will be Tiergarten, my tip for the West area with most potential is Bellevue, to the east PL B very good but will it follow through, who knows, my tip for most potential in berlin is Schlesisches Tor going into town, both sides of river but south side has some great buildings, anything on river in that area will prob double in value in next 5 years or so, think about ir on the river and very close to airport, so brits will pay a fortune for a weekend pad in a few years, and when tegel closes down, where they all going to fly into on a friday night???

5) set a budget as I see you have done and 100% stick to it, it's easy in a rising market to get carried away, don't do it, it's like drinking and driving a little over the limit and you are in big s**t

6) work out your running costs, don't assume, find out, if the apartment is for sale somone must be paying the bills you will have to so get the agent to give you the information.

7) go for it, you might pay less if you were renting but if you move out at anypoint then in 20 or so years time the rent somone pays you will be your pension, and you will own the property outright. whilst other in 20 years time will still be paying rent saying yeh was cheaper this was, and in 40 years time they will be saying the same thing...

8) good luck, and whatever you do don't give up searching for your dream property, it's out there..

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