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PROPERTY

Germany’s Social Democrats plan to help people buy their own homes

The party of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz wants to help buyers who don't have enough for the initial deposit to enter the property market.

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A "Building and Financing" guide in front of a model of a residential building. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Jan Woitas

Despite being the largest economy in the EU, Germany has the lowest level of property ownership. The latest government statistics show that only 42.1 percent of German households currently live in their own four walls, while around 57.9 percent are renting.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The reasons why so many Germans rent rather than buy

But that could soon be about to change, as the SPD, the largest party in the traffic light coalition, wants to launch a new initiative to promote home ownership in Germany.

According to the SPD’s Secretary General, Kevin Kühnert: “The ultimate aim is to replace equity.” A state programme would ensure that households that have no savings but a stable income can get on the property ladder, he said. 

A survey conducted by mortgage broker Interhyp earlier this year showed that most tenants who are currently renting in Germany believe they will never be able to afford to buy a flat or house in their local area.

READ ALSO: How soaring German property prices are out of reach for buyers

Many people bring home decent wages, the SPD politician explained: “But if you can’t put anything into the financing from your own pocket, then the purchase doesn’t even happen. That’s why we’re currently working with the Ministry of Construction to develop a subsidy that will do just that.”

In the interview with the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper, the SPD politician also said that he was confident that the government could reach its goal of creating 400,000 new rental properties a year. The goal is tough, he said, but “possible if everyone does their part”.

However, due to the slow issuance of building permits, ever-stricter regulatory requirements and the drastic increase in the cost of building materials and labour shortages, many experts and associations in the construction industry already see the project as a failure.

Member comments

  1. How about reducing the land transfer and agent fees which are among the highest in the world. The government shouldn’t be getting rich because someone wants to buy a house.

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RENTING

Tinder for flat seekers: How a new German app wants to revolutionise the rental market

Mietz, a new rental app, allows users to swipe right and left to be matched up with new rentals. The Local spoke to founder Lena Tuckermann about how she hopes to help international residents in Germany find their dream flats.

Tinder for flat seekers: How a new German app wants to revolutionise the rental market

After five months spent looking for a flat in Hamburg, involving 50 hours of online searching and sending 200 emails, Lena Tuckermann jokingly asked her friends: “Why isn’t there something like Tinder for flats?”

But what started as a joke quickly became a reality when she decided to build an app that functioned in a similar way to the dating app Tinder.

Along with co-founder Johann Kim, Tuckermann set up a rental app with a matching algorithm and in-app contract processing, designed to help apartment seekers and renters to find each other quickly, easily and securely. 

Mietz founders Lena Tuckermann and Johann Kim. Photo: Mietz

Apartment seekers can swipe right on rentals they like the look of and left on those not to their taste. On the other end, the renters can view the users’ profiles and, if there is a match, the two sides can start talking.

Mietz is free of charge for apartment hunters and students can use the app to find new roommates for free.

The app launched in October and already has over 6,000 users. Currently, the app has listings in Berlin and Frankfurt, but will soon be extending its roster with apartments in Braunschweig, Hamburg and Munich.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The German cities where rents are rising fastest this year

‘Safety on both sides’

“Internationals are one of our main target audiences,” Tuckermann explained, as the company focuses on listing apartments with less bureaucratic requirements, which, for example, don’t require tenants to provide SCHUFA checks.

But at the same time, there is a strong emphasis on safety, and a desire to help flat hunters avoid being scammed.

“We work very closely with the companies offering the apartments, and try to create safety on both sides”, said Tuckermann.

“Most of our users are currently based in Germany, but we are working on expanding that with university partnerships around the world, to reach students looking for places to stay in Germany”.

Most of the apartments currently listed on the app are from businesses with larger apartment portfolios, but private renters can create profiles and upload listings, also for flat shares.

While the business landlords don’t swipe left and right on the faces of prospective renters, private renters and those offering rooms in a flatshare can do so.

“I think, when you’re looking for someone for a flat share, you do want to get an initial impression of a person, and pictures definitely help with that,” Tuckermann explained.

The Mietz App shows the swiping process. Photo: Mietz

Everything about the app is designed to take the pain of long, frustrating flat searching away. “You don’t have to send emails, and you only share your documents if you know the landlord is interested”, Tuckermann said.

Another part of this is the ability to sign digital contracts online, to make the sometimes lengthy rental process run more smoothly.

READ ALSO: The most expensive (and cheapest) cities in Germany to rent a room

“I spoke to one company with over 1,000 apartments, which had previously had to send their rental agreements by post – some of them to India. This meant that some people were waiting over six weeks before their contracts were finalised,” said Tuckermann.

It’s still very early days for Mietz, but the feedback so far from users has been very positive.

“We need a bit of time to get going and to be able to compete with the well-established rental portals. But the feedback we’ve had so far has been great, I think because it made the process of looking for an apartment less painful and because we try hard to match our users with suitable places to live,” said Tuckermann.  

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