Posts Tagged 'FeWo'

worm, chrysalis and butterfly…


This is the butterfly…a bedroom full of light, the bed facing an enormous double window overlooking the chestnut trees, new oak floor and travertino paint for the walls.

cimg0127…the necessary chrysalis…


And this was the ugly worm we bought…poor thing it was ugly but with lots of potential! This is the same room as above, here as a post-war kitchen.

Before the war each floor of this Altbau had just 2 enormous buergerlich flats, with chambres de bonne and the like. Each flat was then divided in 3 flats. Our worm – pardon, our Flat – didn’t have any bedroom, just a big living room with a bow-window, a kitchen and bath both with windows, and a roomy dark corridor for a total of 54sqm.

We torn the wall down (even if we never liked Reagan, we did as he said 😀 ) and transformed the neighbouring bath and kitchen into a nice bedroom with a superb double window.

So now The Flat has a double bedroom and, thanks to our architect, the living room goes back to its pre-war destination. (Er…what about kitchen and bathroom then?!)


The Flat is almost ready!

Well, our goal was to be ready for the Berlinale…we’re almost there!

I was in Berlin at the beginning of the week and we just need to finalize the storage in the corridor, plus buy and fix the washing-drying machine, but all in all the Flat is ready!

I also met a new neighbour who just started her renovation…we had a good chat on bathroom tiles, old windows and optimal resizing of those awkward post-war floor plans!

It’s a pity we will not be able to be in Berlin for the Berlinale though…but just a few days later. So, it will be soon Cleaning Time, taking away that fine invisible dust, placing the brand, new furniture at the right angle, starting to work on the lights, unpacking cutlery, pots and pans, cups and glasses. And the Samovar!! The soul of the flat…

Textiles were purchased in Rome at the Fiera del Bianco in january, very nice and very good value for money…a luggage full of linen and pillow cases in fantastic hues.

We are indeed satisfied. The prussian soul of the flat is now showing all its potential and the high ceilings are fabulous, still we applied the good Bauhaus rules and with its clean lines, the flat now looks liveable and warm, as though it had always been like this. Gemuetlich, precisely.

Rental yields and the financial crisis

New York Times article – Great Homes and Destinations, Germany


Though there was a construction boom in the 1990s after the unification of East and West Germany, the property market in Germany has been relatively flat over the past decade, according to Tobias Just, head of real estate research for Deutsche Bank. Prices are growing slightly in desirable markets like Berlin and Munich, but Mr. Just said most markets were holding steady or experiencing a slight downturn. “We haven’t had a rapid growth period like other markets,” he said, “so there is nothing to correct.” The stability may also be ascribed to Germany’s conservative mortgage system. Over 90 percent of the mortgages issued in Germany have fixed interest rates, and borrowers typically put down 30 percent of the purchase price. “This is a nice cocktail to prevent prices from going through the roof,” Mr. Just said.

Germany’s tenant-friendly laws are another factor in keeping property prices down. Rent control is strict, and evictions are slow and expensive for property owners. The laws favor tenants because “most of the electorate is renting,” he said. Roughly 50 percent of all residential units in Germany are rentals, and many are owned by the government or by nonprofit public welfare agencies. Although there was an influx of foreign investors buying rental units from 2003 to 2006, prices stayed stagnant because of an oversupply of rental units.

The market for luxury homes in the Munich area is small but strong, according to Christian Ehbauer, owner of Re/Max Exclusive in Gruenwald. Older luxury condominiums in Munich cost 6,000 to 9,000 euros per square meter ($695 to $1,040 per square foot), but some new units sell for as much as 12,000 to 16,000 euros per square meter ($1,390 to $1,850 per square foot).

Well-appointed single-family homes in Gruenwald or Starnberg, suburbs south of Munich, cost 1.4 million to 2.8 million euros ($1.7 million to $3.5 million), but Mr. Ehbauer has seen mansions with lake frontage in Starnberg sell for as much as 8 to 12 million euros ($1 million to $15 million).

Berlin Residential Real Estate Market Outlook 2009

A survey of 118 cities in Germany has seen the average rent level in Berlin at 5.58 Euro per sqm per month net rent. This takes Berlin to rank No. 55 with Munich in the lead with an average net rent of 11.36 as shown in a study published by the association of the Berlin-Brandenburg housing corporations. Even in small cities like Jena (7.06), Greifswald (6.49) or Lübeck (6.07) the average rent is currently higher than in Berlin.

Yet another indicator for the development potential of the Berlin residential market. With the current price level for Investment Property at early last year’s level and growing numbers of pressured sales due to “De-Leveraging” where investors sell properties to generate fresh cash the yields have improved significantly. Recently some big investors in the Berlin market like ORCO Germany have sold properties between 2 – 20 % below their book values.

The take-up by the market is relatively slow as most banks require up to 40 % equity to match their lending. “Equity is king” and those who have it can cherry-pick. Any relaxation in this area will depend on the development of the financial crisis and any forecasts on this a currently very vague.

Credit Crunch Could Boost German Property Market

(OPENPRESS) November 26, 2008 — According to a survey by travel portal 60 percent of Britons have no intention of canceling their winter holiday plans because of the economic downturn. Meanwhile, Grahame McKenzie of tourism website Travel Mole, has predicted that the global downturn will cause Britons to holiday in locations within Europe, such as Spain and Italy, naming France, Italy and Germany, he added:

“Potentially there may be an upsurge in ferry bookings, so people will be able to shove all their stuff in a car and just jump in with their kids and everything.”

Liam Bailey, chief market analyst for overseas property portal Property Abroad gave us his views on the reports:

“Firstly, it is possible that the findings from the Travel Mole survey go against Grahame McKenzie’s predictions — for this winter anyway — of course depending on whether or not some of the 60 percent have made their winter holiday plans to go further afield than Europe, which I believe is a fairly safe bet. McKenzie’s statements give no indication of whether he meant this winter only or winters for however long the ‘credit crunch’ lasts.” While it is highly likely that some people will decide to holiday in Europe, most Britons already do holiday in Europe, so I can’t see there being a ‘massive upsurge’, but even a slight upsurge could generate a boost in European property markets.”

“McKenzie being right would make the biggest difference to Germany, because German property traditionally has very low rental yields, because of government restrictions, and because of the fact that very few Germans own their own homes meaning that most rentals are residential. This would — possibly very quickly — give Germans the ability to raise their rental rates on short-term leases only, because the government would see the positive effect this could have on the economy combined with the increase in tourism.”

Renovierung, ristrutturazione, refurbishing!

Today there is an interesting article on Deutsche Welle, about an italo-german pair refurbishing flats in Prenzl’berg on a big scale. It’s all about mixing Prussia and italian style, affordable prices in Berlin and entrepreneurial flair. It’s also about a lot of money, and a lot of property.

On a much smaller scale over the next weeks Mein Mann and I will start working on the refurbishment of The Flat. We now have The Project, we need to understand exactly the operational details, order the materials in Berlin (shop locally!) and off we go.

We did our share of number crunching, magazine-reading, scenario-building now we’ve got to start. Also because…the Wohngeld is running! So, we’re reassured of the fact that:

– YES, it was a good idea to buy a flat in Berlin, the price was right and the value was great;

– YES, with the present market turmoil it is even a better idea to invest a bit of extra money in refurbishing The Flat and bringing it to extert its full potential, in the beautiful Kiez;

– YES, in these uncertain times, with such negative newsflow, it is nice to be working on a HARDWARE project, in parallel with those daily worries (inflation, bad news, economic meltdown und so weiter).

One year ago we were emotionally in the no-man’s-land in between our August enthousiastic scouting trip to Berlin (cum-badly-failed-attempt to buy a flat), and the November trip to the Hauptstadt, when Mein Mann found the hidden gem, The Flat.

So we were floating in that lukewarmish atmosphere. We had invested all our holidays on the project. We were disappointed by the first unsuccessful attempt. But we were determined to get over it and be proud owners of our flat by Christmas. We signed our contract on December 20th!

Sometimes in between signing the contact and paying the price/getting the ownership of the flat a few MONTHS can elapse, rather than a few weeks, and that was indeed the case for us. A bit frustrating but worth waiting. After getting the possession of the keys and of The Flat, we’ve been paying taxes to the Finanzamt, opened a bank account, set up utility accounts, have the project prepared and now we’ve just to sign an insurance contract, then the refurbishing can start.

Needless to say we’ve seen many many other flats in the meantime. That is always a lateral and nosy way of visiting the town, plus it’s a very useful exercise. Each time we were reassured on the price-quality relationship of what we had bought. That is a nice feeling indeed. Especially when you’re still facing costs and no revenues yet are flowing in your hands.

We think we “prüften die Angebote sehr genau und pickten uns aus den vielen Objekten am Markt die Rosinen heraus“, we had done our homework, carefully analyzed the market, and cherry-picked successfully.

If you are interested in buying a flat in Berlin, go and see as many flats and as many Kiez as you can. This is the best way to find really what you are looking for. Exercise your personal Guts Feeling, endure a few disappointments, get a feel for the Sense of Place and stick with your list of criteria. Be they sultanas or cherries, you will find the ones you are looking for.

That said, we’re no real estate magnates like the Stoffel or fashion heirs like the Stefanel, but we have an idea or two about refurbishing without destroying. Leveraging hidden beauty without arm-twisting the sense of place.

We want to make the prussian linear beauty of the The Flat blossom, it’s concealed behind a few post-war thin postiche walls, hideous wallpapers and plastic flooring but you can feel it’s definitely there. Yet The Flat must also feel contemporary, and user-friendly too. And the costs must remain down to earth.

Coherence is our guiding muse: with the Altbau, the Kiez, the history of the Bayerisches Viertel, our own taste…and our budget.

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