The speed and extent of the current fall in real estate prices in Germany are historically unprecedented. Never since the expert committees started recording prices in the 1960s, have real estate prices fallen so quickly and sharply.
Looking at the year as a whole, sales prices in 2023 compared to the previous year fell by 8.9 percent for apartments, 11.3 percent for single-family homes, and 20.1 percent for multi-family homes.
During the previously most significant price decline in the mid-90s, sales prices fell to a similar extent—slightly less for houses, a bit more for apartments—but it took about 10 years for this to happen.
The recent price decline was preceded by a historically unique price rally since around 2009. Since then, prices have increased three to fourfold depending on the segment, before the sharp downturn began in 2022. The highest price increase to date occurred at the end of the 80s when prices doubled within about 5 years.
"Given the exorbitant price increases over more than 10 years and a new interest rate environment, a phase of price correction is entirely appropriate and not economically alarming to the extent we've seen so far," says Moritz Schularick, President of the Kiel Institute.
The latest update of the Greix shows that prices slightly stabilize in the 4th quarter of 2023, and the speed of the price decline decreases.
Compared to the previous quarter, Q3 2023, the prices for apartments have only decreased slightly by 0.6 percent. The prices for single-family houses have dropped by 1.2 percent. Prices for multi-family houses have even increased by 4.7 percent, with this segment experiencing relatively high volatility due to the low number of transactions.
Due to the now only modest quarterly inflation rates, the inflation-adjusted price changes for all market segments deviate only minimally.
Compared to the same quarter of the previous year, Q4 2022, all residential segments are significantly in the negative, although the declines are less severe than in previous quarters.
The apartment sales prices in Germany's top-7 cities (Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt a. M., Hamburg, Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart) show a very heterogeneous development.
Compared to the previous quarter prices in Cologne and Stuttgart are still falling quite sharply by 3.6 percent each. In Berlin (-0.4 percent), Frankfurt (-0.2 percent) and Hamburg (+0.2 percent) they have plateaued.
In terms of the average price per square meter (rounded to the nearest hundred), Munich leads significantly with EUR 8,600/m² (as of Q3 2023) well ahead Frankfurt with EUR 5,300/m². No prices per square meter can be displayed for Hamburg (2nd place) and Berlin (4th place).
Düsseldorf with an average of EUR 4,300/ m² (as of Q3 2023) and Stuttgart and Cologne with EUR 4,200/ m² are the most affordable of the top-7 cities.
Note: For Düsseldorf and Munich, there are no data for the fourth quarter in this update.
There are also significant regional differences in the price development of apartments outside the top-7 cities in the 4th quarter of 2023.
Prices are falling in Chemnitz (-3.5 percent), Wiesbaden (-3.9 percent), and Karlsruhe (-3.9 percent). Karlsruhe is included for the first time in the latest Greix update.
Prices are rising in Potsdam (+4.3 percent), Dortmund (+1.9 percent), Leipzig (+1.8 percent), Duisburg (+1.8 percent), and Lübeck (+1.5 percent).
In the other cities, prices are slightly increasing or have plateaued.
Potsdam, Bonn, and Münster reach the level of the top-7 cities with average square meter prices of EUR 4,200/m². Slightly behind are Lübeck, Wiesbaden, Leipzig, and Karlsruhe. The most affordable price levels are in Duisburg (EUR 1,900/m²) and Chemnitz (EUR 1,500/m²).
"It might be that we are seeing the beginning of a stabilization in real estate prices. However, the coming quarters will show this for sure. At least the behavior of the central banks would suggest this, from which no further interest rate hikes and foreseeable interest rate cuts are expected. Thus, real estate financing should become cheaper again, thereby stimulating demand," says Schularick.
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Price changes in Greix data are calculated based on index values using the hedonic regression method. This mitigates price distortions that often occur when using average prices per square meter. For instance, the sale of a considerable number of high-priced properties, attributed to factors such as larger size, prime location, or superior condition, can inflate average prices per square meter. However, such fluctuations may not reflect a general increase in real estate value. By calculating an index, specific property characteristics do not cause upward or downward distortions in the price trend.
Displaying the average price per square meter provides insight into the local price level. However, the actual value of a property depends on its unique attributes and may vary significantly.
About the Greix:
- What is the Greix?
The Greix is a real estate price index for Germany based on the sales price collection of the local expert committees, which contains notarized sales prices. It tracks the price development of individual cities and neighborhoods back to 1960 and is based on more than two million transaction data. The dataset can be used to analyze long-term trends in the real estate markets and to place current developments in a historical context.
- What data and methods are used to create the indices?
The data collection and evaluation take place in cooperation with the local expert committees. All real estate transactions are recorded in full. The price development is calculated according to the latest scientific standards and statistical methods (hedonic regression method). The Greix thus stands for the highest scientific data quality.
- Who is funding the Greix?
Greix is financed by public funding and is a project of the Bonn-Cologne Cluster of Excellence ECONtribute, which is funded by the DFG, and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, in cooperation with the local expert committees. Its aim is to increase price transparency in the real estate market. Different price indices for 18 cities are freely accessible at www.greix.de. Additional cities will gradually be added to the data set.