Mr. Brée, you are sales manager at the oldest real estate company in Berlin, Artur Caesar Behrendt. Since 1888, ACB realizes real estate. How do you currently see the Berlin real estate market?
First and foremost exciting with still a lot of potential, but also exhausting due to the political intervention in the property rights and of course generally in the Berlin real estate market.
Since the publication of the project, we have noticed a significant slowdown in transactions, our customers want to buy / sell, but most are currently unable to do so. The threat of retroactively claiming the rental cover is a big problem.
Does rentedeck planning have any impact on investment decisions of your customers?
The problem at the moment is not the rental cover, the problem is the uncertainty. Nobody knows, will it even exist and if so, what exactly does it contain in the end?
Basically, all our customers are in a wait-and-see attitude until there is a final decision. Some of our customers are currently retiring from Berlin, others - as mentioned - wait for a while and others continue, so that we can also currently book placement successes.
Does that mean that you assume that business will pick up again when the rental cover is approved and in effect? Or do you rather assume that those who are still waiting will withdraw from Berlin?
I think it depends on what exactly ends up being passed. I can not imagine that the Berlin real estate market will flatten out. We will certainly feel a change. What these changes will look like is difficult to predict at the moment.
The rental price brake 2015 was already a clear regulatory intervention. Why are the current plans perceived so differently?
When I recall the last quarter of 2014, our environment was on the whole as troubled as it is now and had the same fears. However - if we compare the existing rent brake and the bill on rental cover, there are essential differences. The restrictions now planned are severely limited and the owners are risking a large fine for non-compliance.
Existing bills are too generalized, such as unitized rents according to the year of construction. This idiocy is hard to beat! In Berlin, we often visit old buildings in prime locations that are hard to beat for their elegant beauty. And these should then be let only for a few euros per square meter? This is the wrong way and will not nearly solve the problem.
The absurdity is that it does not seem to be intended to present a solution. Many good solutions to tackle housing shortages are public knowledge. This is pure politics and anxiety with the purpose of generating votes!
How does your company react?
We continue as before. We do not let ourselves be influenced negatively. Basically, we have to wait just as our customers. But we continue to phone our customers, continue to visit, and continue to try to successfully sell the properties. As long as we do not know if something - and if so, what exactly - is coming at us, we can not really react.
In every change there is at least one possibility. It is up to us to recognize and use them. I can not tell you whether the rental cover will regulate the housing market in Berlin or whether prices will not rise even further. The lack of housing will in my opinion even worse!
It will not build significantly more apartments, but more and more people want to move to Berlin. People are moving less and less often, so less often from their homes. The owners will pay even more attention to who wants to move in with them. Finding an apartment will be even harder. To what extent, then also at the Mietendeckel is held, shows later. I do not know if Berlin can cover the administrative burden.
Another topic: what is your perspective on environmental protection areas?
The continuing expulsion of new conservation areas has, in my view, contributed greatly to the price increase in Berlin. It leads to a shortage of objects on the Berlin real estate market, and this causes, among other things, the price increase.
Personally, it seems to me that, with every intervention, politicians are doing even more damage and aggravating the problems. But to answer your question, it looks as if Berlin will eventually be declared a comprehensive environmental protection area.
What do you think should be done differently?
Politicians should stop meddling, and then, as far as the real estate market is concerned, we would not have a lack of housing and prices that are so overpriced.
The counter-argument to this is that politics interferes only because there is a problem that has arisen without interference. Why should that solve itself?
I am convinced that if politics were to be restrained with regulations, ie restrictions on property, we would have enough living space, and the rent would settle by itself at an unproblematic level. Supply and demand - if there is enough supply, will be confiscated where the rent is bearable. I myself am a tenant and currently looking for a new rental apartment, I can understand the citizens. It's very hard to find something suitable and affordable.
The solutions are already known: Significantly more building permits must be issued - for attic floorings, compaction and new buildings.
Do you currently know someone who would like to build rental apartments in Berlin to a significant extent?
There are enough companies to tackle. But the time to obtain a building permit would have to be significantly shortened. The billions currently being spent on pre-emptive use could also be used to provide homeowner for affordable rental housing with tax breaks or higher grants / loans.
Mr Brée, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us.