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Where in Germany can you still snag a home for under €100k?

Real estate experts are warning ever more urgently of a property market bubble in Germany, as prices continue to balloon despite rising interest rates. But some parts of the country are still remarkably cheap.

Where in Germany can you still snag a home for under €100k?
A 'for sale' sign in Schleswig Holstein. Photo: pa | Daniel Bockwoldt

If you are thinking about buying your own house in Germany on a tight budget you can forget about the big cities. Even their metropolitan areas are probably out of your reach.

We decided to look at where in Germany you could afford a property on a budget of €100,000.

To make sure you’re not just getting a shoe box for that money, we also specified in a search on the property website Immobilienscout24 in April 2022 that the property should have at least five rooms and a floor space of at least 130 square metres.

The website, which displays offers from estate agents as well as private individuals, came up with 134 properties currently on the market across Germany.

‘Hidden gems’

What was revealed was a small cluster of properties in and around the small state of Saarland on the French border, while almost all the other properties were in east Germany.

In large swathes of wealthier western Germany there was absolutely nothing to be found in this price range.

Urban properties such as this Altbau in central Munich can’t be found for a bargain. But nor can homes in commuting distance from the major cities. Photo: dpa-tmn | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

Both Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, two of Germany’s richest states, had next to nothing on offer. That also goes for the a region of the west of Germany stretching from Cologne all the way up to the Danish border.

Even Brandenburg, once a paradise of cheap properties, is now a barren wasteland when it comes to bargain basement offers, due to the recent surge in interest among Berliners in homes in the surrounding countryside.

A small cluster of “hidden gem” homes could be found in the west in the small state of Saarland. As a former mining region, Saarland is one of the poorer parts of western Germany, but it is also famed for its beautiful Saar river and is close to the wine regions of the Mosel.

Anyone who fancies buying themselves a property just a stone’s throw from the French border should be warned, though.

SEE ALSO: How real estate in Germany has rocketed in the pandemic

Of the nine properties currently on the market in our filter, almost all come with words like “renovierungsbedürftig” (in need of renovations) or “für den Handwerker” (for DIY lovers) – both clear indications that you’ll have to invest quite a bit more money and time into the property before it’s in a condition that you could contemplate living in. For those of you who like nothing better that spending a Saturday afternoon in your local Baumarkt, these could be just the properties for you though.

The rest of the properties were spread across a belt of the country that starts in Lower Saxony and stretches southeast to where Saxony buts up against the Czech border.

The village of Seiffen in the Ore Mountains. Photo: dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

Twelve of the properties turn up in a single district alone – Vogtlandkreis in southern Saxony.

In terms of salary levels, Vogtlandkreis is one of the worst off places in Germany, so it would make sense that its property market is also on the affordable side. But it is also nestled inside the Ore Mountains. Its national park could offer ideal refuge to those looking to move to a place that offers snow in the winter and long summer hikes.

Generally, the properties on offer are in small villages, but this isn’t always the case. One unusual property to crop up was a “city villa” with 13 rooms in the town of Zeitz in Saxony-Anhalt. 

Energy catch

Another thing that you should be aware of when thinking about buying a home on the seriously cheap side is the exorbitant energy costs that are likely to come your way once you’ve moved in.

Almost all of the houses that turned up in our filter, over half of them (70) had an energy efficiency class of H, which is the worst possible classification for energy efficiency in Germany.

Consumer watchdogs warned back in 2019 that you are likely to pay energy costs upwards of 13 euros per square metre for a home in the H energy class. That equates to utility bills of at least €1,690 each year. By comparison, a home in the energy category D has estimated energy costs of €6 per square metre.

And that number is likely to be much higher now due to the energy crisis caused by the conflict in Ukraine.

Only four of the properties in our search had an energy class of C or above.

SEE ALSO: Where you’ll find Germany’s most expensive apartments

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REVEALED: The German university towns where property prices are going up (and down)

Germany's property boom is grinding to a halt, but according to a recent survey, a number of smaller university towns are still seeing an upswing in prices. Here's where experts say it could make sense to invest.

REVEALED: The German university towns where property prices are going up (and down)

With rising interest rates and a potential recession on the cards, the prospects for Germany’s housing market have been looking increasingly gloomy of late. Back in September, a study by the Hamburg-based Gewos Institute for Urban, Regional and Housing research revealed that interest in property purchases has slumped, with sales of flats and houses in Germany set to drop by seven percent in 2022. 

Based on the data for the first half of the year, real estate companies are expected to see their revenues decline for the first time since 2009, Gewos revealed. In places like Munich and Frankfurt – some of the most expensive German cities where property prices have been rising for years – analysts from Swiss bank UBS predict that the housing bubble could be about to burst.

READ ALSO: Why Germany’s property boom could be coming to an end

Outside of the major metropoles, however, investors have long been eyeing up smaller cities and towns where property prices remain low. Now, a new analysis of property prices in Germany’s university towns suggests that student hotspots could be particularly attractive, despite the volatile housing market. 

For the survey, estate agent Von Poll Immobilien looked at price trends in a total of 46 university towns across Germany from the the first quarter to the third quarter of 2022,  excluding so-called ‘A’ and ‘B’ cities like Berlin, Düsseldorf and Cologne. To be classed as a university town, at least 7,000 students had to be resident there. 

In 35 of the towns, house prices have either fallen or stagnated throughout the year. Saarland’s capital Saarbrücken showed the most extreme drop in property prices over the period, with the cost of property per square metre sinking by 11.9 percent. In Q3, the average cost of buying a flat in Saarbrücken was €2,322 per square metre. 

Behind Saarbrücken, the university towns of Lüneberg and Erfurt showed the most dramatic fall in house prices, with a dropoff of 11.8 percent and 9.4 percent respectively. In both Göttingen and Ulm, house prices fell by 8.2 percent, while Bayreuth and Oldenburg sank by eight percent over the same period. 

“The real estate market has been visibly on the move in many places since the spring. This also applies to the smaller university towns,” explained Daniel Ritter, managing partner at von Poll Immobilien. “Real estate prices are stagnating or falling in certain regions and segments – although very good and high-demand micro-locations will be less affected.”

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What you need to know about buying property in Germany

Bucking the trend 

Though prices remained stable or fell in around three quarters of the university towns surveyed, 11 of the student hotspots exhibited high growth despite the challenging market. 

The biggest jump in property prices was in the town of Erlangen, a Bavarian town just north of Nuremberg, where the price per square metre rose by 8.3 percent to €5,449. This was largely spurred on by the presence of big companies like Siemens, Adidas and Puma in the region, which has been driving interest from foreign investors.

Prices also went up significantly in the idyllic town of Coburg, another Franconian town located just 90km to the north of Erlangen. Here, property prices shot up by 6.3 percent to €2,795 per square metre. 

In other regions, the spike was less dramatic, though seven of the university towns saw modest price rises over the period. Bamberg, Kaiserslautern, Konstanz, Aachen, Flensburg, Frankfurt (Oder) und Magdeburg all saw house prices go up between 1.5 and 3 percent between Q1 and Q3. 

Constance harbour

Numerous ships docked in the harbour of Constance , a university town in the south of Germany. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Felix Kästle

“The announcement that the American semiconductor manufacturer Intel was settling in Magdeburg had a noticeable impact on the property market. Since then we have seen a surge in property enquiries. However, there were fewer property offers and stable prices at that time,” said Heike Hoffmann, an estate agent at Von Poll Immobilien Magdeburg. “Against the backdrop of higher mortgage rates and the current inflation trend, however, we are noticing a reluctance to buy.”

“Nevertheless, many sellers are sticking to their high asking prices, which means that the number of property offers on the Magdeburg market has almost doubled compared to the same period last year.”

READ ALSO: How the housing bubble in Frankfurt and Munich could be set to burst

The cheapest and most expensive university towns

There were also significant differences in the asking prices for property across the university towns surveyed.

The property price analysis of the smaller university towns for the third quarter of 2022 suggests that prospective buyers can expect the highest prices for a flat in Constance at €6,321/m2 and Potsdam at €6,029/m2. But while prices per square metre in Constance have risen slightly by two percent compared to the first quarter of 2022, they dropped by as much as 7.8 percent in Potsdam, the capital of Brandenburg.

“Recently, we recorded significant price increases in Potsdam and property sellers were able to hold on to the sometimes very high asking prices – this is now changing,” said Andreas Güthling, branch manager of Von Poll Immobilien Potsdam and Werder. “Due to the increased financing interest rate, many prospective buyers now have to recalculate their search budget.” 

Properties in the pricier university towns otherwise ranged between €5,000 and €6,000 per square metre – a similar price to flats in Berlin and Stuttgart. The majority of these were located in the southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria, with Freiburg im Breisgau topping the charts at €5,534/m2. 

Map of university towns

Property prices in the smaller university towns in Q3/2022. Source: Von Poll Immobilien

The fourth most expensive town – where prices are also rising most steeply – was Erlangen, where property currently costs €5,449/m2, followed by Tübingen at €5,390/m2, Regensburg at €5,176/m2 and Heidelberg at €5,134/m2. 

However, not all of the towns came with an eye-watering price tag for property. At just €1,785 per square metre, property in the town of Chemnitz in Saxony was by far the most affordable location for buyers – though prices of between €2,000 and €3,000 per square metre were far from unusual in the survey.

With the exception of Frankfurt (Oder) – which is located in Brandenburg on the Polish border – the most moderate prices were found in central and western German university towns, including Magdeburg, Wuppertal, Saarbrücken, Mönchengladbach, Hildesheim, Siegen, Kaiserslautern, Coburg und Kassel.

Where are the best investment opportunities?

According to Von Poll Immobilien, a major factor in deciding the potential for good returns on a buy-to-let is the so-called Purchase Price Factor, or Kaufpreisfaktor. This essentially calculates how long a property would need to be rented out in order to earn back the purchase price.

A property with a factor of 20 would have to be rented out for 20 years, while another with a factor of 40 would have to be rented out for 40 years, and so on.

For several years, a multiplier of 20 was considered a benchmark for a very profitable investment. With steep rises in property prices, however, this benchmark has shifted.

“In most German regions, purchase price factors of around 25 can now be found, but multipliers of 30 are no longer uncommon,” the researchers at Von Poll Immobilien explained. “In metropolises and large cities in particular, purchase price factors often exceed this threshold many times over.”

Entrance to Potsdam university

The entrance to Potsdam university. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christophe Gateau

In almost half (22) of the university towns, the Purchase Price Factor was more than 30, while properties in the remaining 24 towns had a factor of between 20 and 30. 

In the third quarter of 2022, Potsdam had the highest Purchase Price Factor of 39.5, followed by Halle and Erlangen, with factors of 35.6 and 35.4 respectively,

On the lowest end of the scale was Saarbrücken, with a factor of just 21.8, followed by Göttingen (23.4), Mönchengladbach (24.3), Wuppertal (24.5) and Kaiserslautern (24.6). A full list of the purchase prices factors (in German) can be found here

“Cities with attractive courses of study continue to have especially high potential for value appreciation,” said Ritter. “However, investors should carefully examine the return potential of the locations and the targeted property as well as their individual criteria and market development and also consult professional real estate experts.”

READ ALSO: The hidden costs of buying a house in Germany

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