German Mortgage

The Complete Expat’s Guide To Buying A Apartment In Berlin

Interested in an apartment in Berlin? The Capital of Germany is considered one of the top European metropolises and is a place of residence for people from Germany and abroad. The largest city in Germany was once nicknamed “poor and sexy.” That scenario has since changed, and with one of the most inclusive and diverse startup ecosystems globally, the city attracted 3.1 billion euros in venture capital investment in 2020 alone.

Who wouldn’t want to invest in an apartment in Berlin?

As Germany maintains its position as Europe’s haven for capital, investors expect a greater demand for impact investments in the next 3-5 years. In the meantime, Berlin has moved up to take the number one spot in “overall real estate prospects,” and it ranks third on Europe’s 10 most active real estate markets – behind only London and Paris.

When looking for apartments for sale in berlin, this is what expats need to know:

  • Why Berlin is such an attractive real estate market,
  • What is the price range of apartments in the city,
  • How to find apartments for sale in berlin
  • How to buy an apartment

Why buy an apartment in Berlin?

The German capital is now only behind London and Paris when it comes to the most attractive markets in Europe. This might sound like the property prices in Berlin might match the ones in London and Paris, but that’s far from the truth.

Apartments in Berlin also remain cheaper than other German cities like Munich, Frankfurt, and Hamburg, making it easier for expats ready to invest in their first property abroad – or simply looking to expand their real estate portfolio.

The advantages of buying an apartment in Berlin include:

  • Low purchase prices – Berlin apartment price range remain lower than most other major cities in Europe (2-3 times less expensive than in Paris, up to 5 times less costly than London),
  • Accelerating rental rates (important for buy-to-let investments),
  • And stable property appreciation.

It’s worth pointing out that Berlin continues to hold its place as Germany’s founder capital, with around 40,000 business registrations and 500 startup companies each year, fostering an environment of young and highly qualified international people.

Once these steps are cleared, you are ready to start your apartment hunting in the German capital. Bring enough time and patience, temporarily it is worth taking a temporary apartment. In the meantime, you can look for a suitable property in Berlin. Finally, you should think about the right mortgage and the hidden cost of a property if you want to make it your own.

Buying an apartment in Berlin: where to start?

Before looking into apartments to buy in Berlin, it’s essential to have a few steps sorted out. Start with:

How much does an apartment in Berlin cost?

Even short-lived solutions like the Berlin Rental Cap couldn’t keep Berlin prices low. The average price per square meter has gone up from €3.298 (2018) to €4.284 (2021), an increase of 37%.

No other city in the world has seen prices rise as sharply as in Berlin – primarily due to population growth, stable economic situation, low unemployment, and a high interest in foreign investment. But that doesn’t mean that the property prices in the German capital are not competitive, especially when compared with other capitals like Paris or London.

And, of course, it also depends on the area: Mitte, Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg rank as the prime locations, with the price per square meter reaching €4.688.

On the other hand, new buildings can cost an average of €6,930 per square meter (Guthmann Estate), also subject to location. In Mitte, foreign investors can expect around €9,770 per square meter, and in Spandau, €5,700 (August 2021).

Rental Price

According to the JLL’s residential profile of Berlin, the average rent increased 9.1% per year over five years. In the first quarter of 2021, rental prices were €14.00/sqm/month. New properties also benefited from an 11.7% increase, reaching €18.60/sqm/month.

Premium areas like Mitte ask for rent of €18.25/sqm/month, while Marzahn-Hellersdorf remains the cheapest district at €10.25/sqm/month.

Even though rental prices in other German cities are more expensive, Berlin remains attractive. However, it’s worth remembering that German law favors tenants, and it can be difficult to legally terminate a rental contract to move in yourself. In Berlin, that can take 10 years – so pay attention to the rental yield to make sure that’s the best option for you. In 2020, the rental yield in Berlin was 3.21%.

Transfer Tax

Investors in Germany must pay a transfer tax (Grunderwerbsteuer). This is usually levied from 3.5% of the purchase price but can be higher in other regions. In Berlin, the transfer tax is 6%.

Furnished or unfurnished?

The question of whether a furnished apartment or not depends mainly on personal preferences. Those who are comfortable and want to move directly into a usable apartment use a furnished apartment.

Furnished apartments are also worthwhile for students and commuters and all those who spend little time at home. Most furnished apartments already have multimedia devices, wifi, and hygiene items such as towels and blankets included.

That means you hardly have to worry about anything. Usually furnished apartments have a higher rental price and are therefore more worthwhile as short to medium-term accommodation. But also the renting of furnished apartments is becoming more and more attractive. In our guide, you can read more about it.

How to find an apartment in Berlin?

When looking to make an offer in Berlin real estate, expats might want to start looking by their preferred areas:

  • Berlin-Mitte. The center of Berlin with all its tourist attractions – from Museum Island to Brandenburger Tor. Berlin Apartments in Mitte tend to be one of the most expensive in Berlin. Mitte also includes Berlin-Wedding, Tiergarten, Moabit.
  • Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf. Home to the Kurfürstendamm is one of the most famous shopping streets in Germany. Also among the most expensive locations in Berlin, with existing buildings reaching between €5,430 and €6,150 per square meter.
  • Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg: Home to clubs, galleries, and startups – but also famous for its green areas. It attracts young people and families, with existing apartments costing between €5,200 and €6,520 per square meter.
  • Lichtenberg. Once a working-class district, Lichtenberg is now one of the upcoming areas due to its proximity to the city center and green spaces. The square meter costs an average of €4,510.
  • Marzahn-Hellersdorf. On the far east of Berlin, one of the most affordable districts.
  • Neukölln. Incredibly diverse, Neukölln attracts people from all over the world. Albeit popular, the property prices remain affordable at around €4,440 per square meter.
  • Pankow. Home to the trendy Prenzlauer Berg area – but expect a lot of competition since the region lacks space for new properties. Expect to pay around €4,480 per square meter.
  • Reinickendorf. Northwest of Berlin, existing flats start at €3,920 per square meter.
  • Spandau. A quiet and familiar area that is also one of the most inexpensive in the German capital: €4,080 per square meter.
  • Steglitz-Zehlendorf. In the southwest of Berlin, the region attracts families looking for more space – and a suburban feel. Between €4,630 and €5,420 per square meter.
  • Tempelhof-Schöneberg. One of the popular open spaces in the city, this district is home to Tempelhofer Feld and the charming cafés of Schöneberg. The property prices can vary, between €3,990 and €5,210 per square meter. A new
  • Treptow-Köpenick. A district for nature lovers, full of green areas and lakes. Renovated apartments cost between €4,140 and  €4,570 per square meter.

As you can see there are variable rental prices for properties for sale in Berlin. An apartment for sale in Berlin-Reinickendorf does not cost the same as in Berlin-Mitte.

Where can I find apartments for sale in Berlin?

The real estate market in Berlin has been hot for years. Prices for private and commercial properties have been rising. Meanwhile, property in Berlin that is located on the outskirts of the city or in the suburbs is also becoming interesting. If you want to buy an apartment, you should use all possibilities offline as well as online. In the following list, you will find the most promising property provider on the housing market.

If the search for a property in Berlin should be faster, a real estate agency can be a useful alternative and often provide good results. Real estate agencies have a certain number of properties for sale to choose from and their real estate agents are well connected. They may have properties that are not listed anywhere else and also in pricing, real estate agents can give you the advantage to get your dream property. However, keep in mind that they also represent a cost factor.

Once you have decided on an area, you should define your other search criteria. When you have done this, it is worth looking for an apartment for sale here:

  • ebayKleinanzeigen.de
  • immowelt.de
  • Immoscout24.de
  • immonet.de

Parallel to this, it is worth looking at regional newspapers. Friends and family can also provide a decisive tip. If the turnover of the area you are looking for is too low, give yourself one year or more to find your ideal home. For newly built property, check neubau kompass.

How to get the deal and buy the apartment?

If you have found your dream apartment in Berlin, it’s time to get it. The market can be very competitive – the vacancy rate in 2019 stood at just 0.8% (against the national 2.8%). First, you should:

  • Check your financing options to know more about each bank’s different interest rates, closing costs, and monthly installments. A mortgage broker can help you make the best financial decision and analyze your loan offers with you.
  • Have your paperwork ready. Required mortgage documents include copies of your ID, the last 3 salary slips, property exposé, etc. This way, you’ll be prepared to submit your mortgage application as soon as you decide on your loan option.

Mortgage approvals usually take 2–15 days. Once approved, all you have to do is schedule a notary appointment and sign the contract before your bank offer expires (1-4 weeks).

When this step is completed, you can call yourself an apartment owner in Berlin. If you need more information about buying a house in Germany, read our article.

Ready to start looking for your Berlin apartment?

A certified mortgage broker can answer all questions that expats might have – in English! – when it comes to buying an apartment in Berlin. Our LoanLink24 mortgage consultants will be happy to take care of your needs. We offer a selection of the best German mortgages and choose the best solution for you. LoanLink24 specializes in finding the most suitable real estate loan for non-Germans. Our algorithm searches more than 400 banks to find the best deal for you. Our experienced mortgage consultants know precisely about the concerns of non-German home buyers and look forward to hearing from them. And the best? Our service is completely free for you!

You can email us at service@loanllink24.com and call us by phone at 0800 05 28000 Do you already know our German loan calculator? It shows how much house you can afford.

Do you have a question about refinancing your mortgage or KfW loan and funding? Contact us!

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