Posts Tagged 'Wilmersdorf'

One year later…1 candle on the cake!


One year ago we started this blog. Two main reasons: to report about our “flat in Berlin” experience. And to keep track of our renovation adventure, which had just started and needed a bit of a public kick – an official timekeeper online!

One year later, we are going to spend soon our first ever real holiday in our flat in Berlin, having dedicated 1/4 of our weekends in the past 12 months to blitz-trips to Berlin in order to follow the renovation works, sort out paperwork, choose tiles, buy furniture and make the flat feel like our home in Berlin.

One year later, and 3/4 of a global financial crisis later, we’re happy about our choice. It is true, other real estate markets plunged so deep that now there are several “cheap” real estate markets in the world. But we were not just looking for a bottom-fishing real estate opportunity, we wanted something very specific: an apartment with good bones in Schöneberg at a reasonable price, not a seaside flat in Spain or a maisonette in England. In the meantime, garage prices in Rome plunged by 3%. Maybe the Italian real estate market will undergo a correction one day, but the reality is, a 1-car garage in Rome still costs more than a flat in one of the nicest areas of Berlin. Period. Continue reading ‘One year later…1 candle on the cake!’

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?!)

It’s sooo 1914!

At the bookstore in the Hauptbahnhof we discovered an exceptional Berlin guide: Berlin – The Architecture Guide, by Verlagshaus Braun. It’s a pillar of our bookshelf in Berlin.

Thanks to this book we were able to understand how Berlin went from trading post to capital at the end of 1700, which development logic drove the decision-makers and how the single villages “melted” into Berlin, decade after decade. We were also in the position to understand better to which architectural fashion our Altbau belongs.

The most interesting chapter for me is the Historicism period, from 1876 to 1918, when Berlin became the political, economic and cultural centre of Germany. The most representative architect of the time is Ludwig Hoffmann, who built in Berlin more than Schinkel and whose motto was:
“All those of us who have dedicated our lives to building are unified by the same goal: we wish to give form to the yearning for beauty”. Cool, uh?

The chapter also explains the genesis of the typical berlinese tenement building and helps a lot in understanding the structure of the majority of Berlin’s flats, with their inter-connecting yards.

“Wilmersdorf and Schoeneberg also saw breathtaking growth in new street networks, interspersed with decorative squares (Viktoria-Louise Platz)”.  In the same period also the Reichstag and the Berliner Dom were built. “The drive for the decorative saw a blooming in the city (…) These novelties are often described as a preliminary stage for the Modernist era of the 1920s”.

This book is a must-have for flat-hunters and urban trekkers, as it spans from baroque to plattenbauten, from interbau to Renzo Piano…

Rents on the rise in SW Berlin

An interesting article from the Berliner Zeitung…

Apparently rents are on the  rise especially in Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf, Mitte, above 7 euro per square meter: “Besonders teuer sindWohnungen in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, in Steglitz-Zehlendorf und in Mitte. Dort verlangen die Vermieter in vielen Gebieten Quadratmeter-Mieten über sieben Euro”.

Arbitrage on the rent across Kiez is also becoming more frequent: “In Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg sei eine Entwicklung zu beobachten, die vor Jahren der Prenzlauer Berg durchlebt habe, sagte Heidrich. Die kulturelle Szene habe viele Investoren aufmerksam gemacht, die ihr Geld in die Sanierung von Altbauten gesteckt hätten und nun höhere Mieten verlangten. Dies führe dazu, dass einige Bewohner in preisgünstigere Nachbarbezirke abwandern”.

Interesting comments on the small apartment rents: “Der Trend zur kleinen Wohnung hält in Berlin weiter an, weil die Zahl der Single-Haushalte wachse, sagte Heidrich. Von den 1,9 Millionen Haushalten in Berlin ist derzeit mehr als jeder zweite ein Single-Haushalt (50,7 Prozent). Die große Nachfrage nach kleinen Wohnungen führt dazu, dass diese besonders teuer sind. Für eine Wohnung unter 45 Quadratmetern verlangen die Vermieter im Schnitt eine Miete von 6,65 Euro je Quadratmeter. Mittelgroße Wohnungen von 45 bis zu 90 Quadratmeter werden für 5,90 Euro je Quadratmeter angeboten, größere für 6,25 Euro“.

Still, the spread between rents in Berlin and, say, Italy remains very high. Have a look to these articles in the italian press (available online…):

a) D di Repubblica “FenomenoOh, Berlino!” on the magnetic power of cheaper rents vs other capitals, especially for young parents-to-be;

b) Internazionale n.762 – “Ecco perche’ lascio l’Italia” by Laura Lucchini

Schoeneberg, Wilmersdorf, Charlottenburg…

An article of The move Channel…quite a sales pitch, but there’s some truth to it…

Big Berlin investment signals beginning of boom


After fifteen years of stagnation the Berlin property market is finally starting to stir as foreign investors snap up property in the city, reports Assetz…

After fifteen years of stagnation the Berlin property market is finally starting to stir as foreign investors snap up property in the city, attracted by low start up costs and commercial office space which is considerably cheaper than in Munich and Frankfurt, reports Assetz.

Berlin has seen huge multi-billion pound investments in property from UK and European investment banks such as Terra Firma, which are buying up vast blocks of apartments. In addition, leading multinationals such as Sony and DaimlerChrysler have set up headquarters in the city.

This considerable injection of investment has kick-started property market growth – 2006 saw a tentative 0.2% rise in prices after losses in the previous year. The German economy as a whole expanded by 2.5% in 2006, the fastest growth since 2000, and looks set to increase by a further 2.5% in 2007.

Unemployment in Berlin fell to its lowest in four years in November 2006, and this trend is set to continue. It will be the influx of foreign investors that will in time help to drive a growing preference for home ownership that has not been witnessed before in the city, where just 14% of people currently own their own properties.

Stuart Law, Chief Executive of Assetz commented: “Germany is a new market for most overseas investors and it will take time to develop, so I would advise taking a ten year view rather than expecting instant returns. However, the growth triggers investors have been waiting for are starting to occur, with prices in some residential areas such as Charlottenburg, Wilmersdorf and Schoeneberg seeing small rises after years of declining or static prices.

Law continued: “It is a unique situation to have property prices in a capital, as they are in Berlin, which are half those of the surrounding cities of Munich and Frankfurt.  With economic conditions remaining favourable, it is inevitable that the Berlin market will catch up, as the UK-led phenomenon of buying your own home continues to spread rapidly across Europe.”

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