Despite 2012 being the sixth consecutive year in which there fewer free houses, “we can't say that there is an accommodation shortage in Germany,” Reiner Braun, chairman of Empirica the thinktank that carried out the study, told Die Welt newspaper.
Worst hit were the country's 20 biggest cities, with more singles living in their own apartment and Germans from other areas moving to live there being cited as some of the reasons for this. The figure of available accommodation dropped to 3.2 percent in 2012, down 0.2 percent from a year earlier.
In the former West Germany, just 2.7 percent of houses were free. Munich's housing market had, the study found, the fewest empty offerings as just 0.6 percent of its housing stood uninhabited. In Hamburg this was 0.7 percent and in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, 0.8 percent.
Of the 114 towns and cities examined, the former East Germany had the most free space with 6.5 percent of accommodation up for grabs standing empty. This was particularly high in Salzgitter at 11.7 percent, in Chemnitz at 10.4 percent, and in Schwerin 9.9 percent.
Yet in other eastern German cities like Magdeburg, Emden and Frankfurt/Oder, the amount of houses with no one living in them up for grabs was shrinking faster than anywhere else in the country.
And although building on what empty spaces are left would provide respite, it would only be a short-lived solution, said Braun. Without a proper re-think, rents would continue to rise, he added.
The figures are the first of their kind to be published in years, giving a previously-unseen overview of the country's housing situation. Empirica, alongside construction company CBRE, did not include uninhabitable buildings.