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GERMANY REAL ESTATE MARKET VIEW

Verena Bauer • 20/09/2021

Covid-19-Pandemie – Die Schutzverordnungen der Bundesländer wurden jüngst bis Oktober verlängert. Die 7-Tage-Inzidenz (Zahl der Neuinfektionen je 100.000 Einwohner in den letzten 7 Tagen) wurde als Indikator u.a. durch die Hospitalisierungsinzidenz (Zahl der stationär aufgenommenen Covdi-19 Patienten in den letzten 7 Tagen je 100.000 Einwohner) ergänzt. Im Einzelhandel und im öffentlichen Personennahverkehr gilt weiterhin Maskenpflicht. Überall dort, wo die 2G-Regel in Kraft tritt, gibt es weitere Lockerungen.

Gewerbehochhaus Frankfurt
– Statt 260 Wohnungen im geplanten „Porsche Design Tower“ im westlichen Teil des Frankfurter Europaviertels sollen nun rund 45.000 qm Bürofläche entstehen. Zudem wird die Höhe des Turms auf 80 Meter reduziert. Der Grund: Offensichtlich räumt der Investor einer Bürovermietung bessere Chancen ein als dem Luxussegment am Frankfurter Wohnungsmarkt. Denn die neu errichteten Bürohochhäuser in der Innenstadt sind nahezu komplett vermietet, und die Nachfrage nach modernen Flächen ist ungebrochen. 

Übernahmeangebot – „Vonovia“ arbeitet weiter daran, seine Position als größter deutscher Wohnkonzern durch eine Fusion mit der „Deutsche Wohnen“ zu stärken und hat bei seinem Übernahmeangebot nun die Mindestannahmeschwelle gestrichen. Gleichwohl verfolgt Vonovia das Ziel, seinen Anteil an der Deutsche Wohnen auf über 50 Prozent zu erhöhen. Die Annahmefrist des Angebots für Aktionäre endet am 4. Oktober 2021.

Wohnungsmarkt Berlin – Mittlerweile wurde bekannt, dass das Land Berlin über seine landeseigenen Wohnungsgesellschaften rund 14.700 Wohnungen von „Vonovia“ kaufen wird (Kosten: rund 2,4 Mrd. Euro). Ziel der Stadt ist es, den kommunalen Wohnungsbestand bis 2025 auf 400.000 Wohnungen zu erhöhen. Zudem hat der Senat beschlossen, sich für eine bundesweite Länderöffnungsklausel zur Mietenregulierung durch Mietendeckel einzusetzen. 

 

 


06 September

Einzelhandel

Trotz steigender Impfquoten herrscht im deutschen Einzelhandel für die zweite Jahreshälfte nur vorsichtiger Optimismus vor. Für Juli 2021 verzeichnete das Statistische Bundesamt einen realen Umsatzrückgang um 5,1% im Vergleich zum Vormonat. Ein Unsicherheitsfaktor bleibt zudem die steigende Inflationsrate. Diese erreichte mit 3,8 Prozent im Juli das höchste Niveau seit 20 Jahren. Während Handelsunternehmen über Flächenreduzierungen oder Standortverlagerungen nachdenken, integrieren Eigentümer und Investoren von Geschäftshäusern zunehmend Büro- oder Wohnflächen in ihre Objekte – zulasten der Einzelhandelsflächen. Auch bei Shopping-Centern ist die Tendenz zu einem veränderten Nutzungsmix zu beobachten.

Büro-Hochhäuser

Die Bereitschaft von Investoren, großvolumige Bürotürme mit Signalcharakter zu erwerben, ist ungebrochen hoch. Derzeit stehen mehrere Objekte in Frankfurt im Fokus. Im Juli 2021 wechselten sowohl der 2006 errichtete „Skyper“ (35 Etagen) für über 500 Millionen Euro, als auch das für 2024 erwartete „T1“ (54 Etagen) für über eine Milliarde Euro den Eigentümer. Ein Verkauf des 2019 fertig gestellten Marienturms (38 Etagen) könnte in den nächsten Monaten erfolgen.

Datenzentren

Gemessen am Datendurchsatz gilt Frankfurt als weltweit größter Internetknoten. Aufgrund der Standortattraktivität entstehen in der Stadt sowie im Umland immer neue Datenzentren. Interxion etwa begann im August mit der Entwicklung des „Digitalpark Fechenheim“, der nach Fertigstellung 2030 rein durch Abwärme 10.000 Einfamilienhäuser mit Energie versorgen könnte. In der Nachbargemeinde Offenbach errichtet das Unternehmen CloudHQ derweil eines der bundesweit größten Rechenzentren. Und auch im nahegelegenen Hanau sollen mehrere Rechenzentren errichtet werden, unter anderem für Cloud-Dienste von Google.

 

 


23 August

Corona-Pandemie

Die Zahl der Neuinfektionen in Deutschland nimmt wieder zu. Laut Beschluss der Ministerpräsidentenkonferenz dürfen Geimpfte, Genesene und Getestete ab 23.08.2021 auch bei Inzidenzen über 35 Freiheitsrechte ausüben, die Nicht-Geimpften verwehrt werden. Für das Geschäftsleben ist dies ein wichtiges Signal. Der Weg zur Herdenimmunität (Impfquote von über 80%) ist jedoch noch weit.

Hotellerie

Die Hotelbranche befindet sich weiterhin in einer herausfordernden Situation. Zwar wurde im Mai 2021 das generelle Übernachtungsverbot schrittweise aufgehoben. Doch die Übernachtungszahlen pendeln unter vorpandemischem Niveau. Im Juni 2021 etwa wurden 39 % weniger Übernachtungen in deutschen Hotels registriert als im Juni 2019. Vor allem der Geschäftsreise- und Messetourismus erholt sich nur schleppend. Die Hotelkette Fleming‘s hat auf die Entwicklungen reagiert und angekündigt, drei ihrer neun Hotels in Frankfurt a. M. zu schließen.

Klimawandel

Immer offensiver reagieren Privatwirtschaft und öffentlicher Sektor auf den Klimawandel: So reduziert die Stadt Frankfurt a. M. in der Innenstadt den für Pkws zur Verfügung stehenden Straßenraum zugunsten des Radverkehrs. Die Berliner Landesregierung hat in einem Gesetzentwurf festgelegt, dass ab 2024 bei Neubauten ein Fünftel des Grundstücks begrünt werden muss. Und immer mehr Investoren legen neue Fonds auf, die ESG-Aspekte gemäß Artikel 8 der EU-Offenlegungsverordnung berücksichtigen, vor allem im Bereich Logistik und Wohnen.

Rohstoffengpässe

Lieferengpässe und steigende Rohstoffpreise belasten weiterhin die deutsche Wirtschaft. Mit weitreichenden Folgen: So haben einige Wirtschaftsinstitute ihre Prognose für das insgesamt positive Wirtschaftswachstum 2021 leicht nach unten korrigiert. Und im Baugewerbe werden sich viele Fertigstellungen auf nächstes Jahr verschieben – in der Folge werden die Miet- und Kaufpreise von Immobilien weiter steigen.

 

 


11 August

Due to the Berlin’s tight residential rental market, the Berlin Senate decided that the conversion of let residential units into private condominiums cannot take place without the permission of the individual district housing office if a residential building comprises more than five units. Until early August this regulation was valid only for specific areas, from now until the end of 2025 it applies to the whole city.  At the same time, the Berlin Senate is still interested in purchasing a total of 20,000 residential apartments from their current owners Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen. Vonovia meanwhile received clearance from Bafin (Federal Financial Supervisory Authority) to undertake a third attempt to take Deutsche Wohnen over. 

As the vaccination programme has lost some momentum and the number of new COVID-19 infections is increasing, if at a low level, there are concerns that autumn might bring another lockdown. Therefore, major retail chains and major retail unions started a pro-vaccination campaign ‘Live instead of lockdown. Get yourself vaccinated’ in shops and via social media channels and by offering vaccinations in busy locations, as an adjunct to shopping.  

Following surveys undertaken by ZEW, approximately 74% of firms in the information economy plan are to offer their employees the opportunity to work from home even post pandemic. Every second firm expects in the long term that more than 20% of their employees will work from home at least one day a week. German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd has announced it intends to implement a remote working proportion of 40%. 


27 July 

The German investment market for commercial real estate achieved a transaction volume of around €22.1 billion in the first half of 2021 of which the second quarter contributed €12.5 billion. The previous year's first-half result of just under €28.8 billion was thus missed by 23%. Compared to the H1 10-year average, however, the transaction volume is 13% higher. The largest deal so far was the sale of the ‘Fürst’, a mixed-use development on Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm to Aggregate Holdings for more than €1.2 billion. The three largest office transactions took place in Munich, including the trading of the Highlight Towers and the O2 Tower. Overall, new investment in office buildings and office developments totaled €9.4 billion and 43% of the total transaction volume.

In the top-5 German markets, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, more than 4 million m² of new office space is under construction with 70% (2.9 million m²) of this due for completion within the next 18 months, 48% of which is pre-let. As total completion figures for 2021 and 2022 will be higher than in recent years and take-up figures are expected to be lower, the overall vacancy rate in the top-5 markets is expected to increase to 5.5% by the end of 2022. Purely speculative development projects which are not yet under construction are currently being carefully reconsidered and may be postponed.

 

13 July 

Since the end of June firms are no longer obliged to allow their office employees to work from home if they request it.  

Offices are becoming more populated again and, in consequence, city centres as well.  

Nevertheless, a law giving employees the right to work from home for a given number of days per annum is being considered by some political parties and Unions.  

A few large employers plan to offer spaces in regionally spread-out satellite offices to reduce commuting times while also clustering people together.  

In the first half of the year, occupiers signed new leases for a total of 1.1 million sq m of office space in the five major German markets.

The same total result was seen for the equivalent period last year, however, take-up figures in Düsseldorf and Munich are lower than 2020 while take-up increased in Frankfurt, Berlin and Hamburg.

Office vacancies increased in all five markets, most strongly in Berlin and Munich, nevertheless, vacancy rates in these markets are still below 4%, while Frankfurt’s vacancy rate is now 8.1%.  

Prime rents range from €28.50 per sq m in Dusseldorf to €46.00 per sq m in Frankfurt. 

 


01 July 

Last week, the revised national climate protection law passed the Bundestag and Bundesrat and in addition the Government agreed the National Climate Protection Crash Programme 2022.  

Germany has committed to being climate-change-neutral by 2045 with carbon emissions to be cut by 65% compared to their 1990 level by 2030.  

This means decarbonisation of real estate stock and eco-friendly new construction will become more or less a must, as carbon emissions of buildings are not to exceed 67 million tonnes; compared to 210 million tonnes in 1990.  

However, the law did not include measures to make photovoltaic roof arrays obligatory for new developments.  

In addition, the extra carbon price paid for fossil fuel heating of dwellings remains 100% borne by the tenants, proposals to split the costs between landlord and tenant were rejected.  

The elections for the German Bundestag will take place in three months, and in recent weeks the political parties have discussed and agreed their manifestos, almost all including carbon footprint reduction measures and measures to control residential rental growth rates.  

Meanwhile, in Berlin a petition on holding a referendum on introducing compulsory acquisition of large residential property companies achieved the required number of signatures. 

 


14 June 

Over recent days, ever more COVID-19 driven restrictions on business and public life have been eased, as the nationwide 7-day incidence figure has fallen below 20 new infections per 100,000 people and almost half of the population have received at least one vaccination, partly as prioritisation was dropped and many firms established in-house vaccination centres.  

Footfall in high streets is returning as shops, restaurants and hotels are permitted to welcome more customers and most cross-border travel no longer requires quarantine.  

Delivery of food at ‘cyberspeed’ - within 10 to 15 minutes of ordering has become ever increasingly popular over the pandemic year and is forecast to grow further.  

German food retailer Rewe therefore concluded a strategic partnership with speed delivery service Flink but will at the same time enlarge its own e-commerce channel and expand several of its own supermarkets into larger shops of at least 3,500 sq m of sales area.  

Topics that had slipped from public consciousness for many months have returned - specifically sustainability and carbon reduction.  

Driven by the EU and by national goals, demands to make real estate assets more sustainable are increasing.  

Last week it was revealed that one of the discussion points for the national crash program for climate protection is to make photovoltaic roof arrays obligatory for new developments.  

 


02 June 

The 7-day incidence figures have fallen below the threshold of 50 new infections per 100,000 people in most cities and counties, allowing the return of more personal liberties and bringing business life closer to pre-pandemic normal. However, social distancing and the wearing of medical face masks remain obligatory, the numbers of people visiting shops, hospitality and leisure infrastructure facilities are restricted and office employees should still work from home wherever and whenever the business processes allow. The latter rule remains in force until the end of June. 

Discussions continue regarding remote working in the future. The green party proposed giving employees the legal right to work remotely, the trade association regards this as a needless intervention into business processes. At the same time there is consensus that the traditional German culture of in-office working will move towards more location flexibility, including a change in the size of office spaces required by individual firms. For example, the German tourism company TUI Group announced that they plan to offer their 3,000 employees no more than 1,700 desks from 2022; a move supported by an employee attitude survey whose results clearly showed they wish to work from home more often. 


25 May

In many municipal areas, the 7-day incidence figures (the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19) are now below the threshold of 100 new infections per 100,000 people, meaning that these cities and counties no longer fall under the rules of the national obligatory ‘emergency brake’ but those of the individual federal states, permitting specific easing regarding personal meetings and phased openings of retail, hospitality, personal services and sports facilities.

Every federal state has compiled transparent road maps for the easing of restrictions thus giving businesses more planning reliability than in previous months.  

However, physical distancing and the wearing of medical face masks remain obligatory. In addition, employees should still work from home wherever and whenever the business processes allow this. If this is not appropriate the employer has to offer COVID-19 testing twice a week. Thus far, approximately 10% of the German population are fully vaccinated and in addition over 20% have received a first vaccination. 

According to STR, the hotel room occupancy rate was 10.7% in the first quarter of 2021, a decline of almost 78% compared to the equivalent quarter in 2020. Footfall figures in the high streets are still at a very low level.  

 


2 April

In Germany's commercial property market, the most immediately visible impact of the Government measures taken against the spread of COVID-19 can be seen in the retail sector. 

Most non-food retail and all leisure retail is closed. Food & Beverage outlets are only open for take-away. Some retailers are trying to shift to alternatives like delivery services, especially restaurants, even though their turnover will not be as high as usual, it will at least help their chances of survival.  

The longer the resulting loss in turnover continues, the more difficult it will be for retailers to pay rent. According to the German Retail Association (HDE), 3 months without turnover would result in many medium-sized retailers becoming insolvent. Besides the obvious problem on the supply side, the consumers’ willingness to buy is also low right now, because of the economic uncertainty - see GfK consumer index

Restaurant chain Vapiano (230 restaurants in 33 countries; 55 in Germany) and steakhouse chain Maredo (37 restaurants in Germany and Austria) have already become insolvent, although Vapiano was known to be struggling long before this. 

The German Government is now offering help to affected businesses in the form of:  

 

  • Benefits;
  • Loans;
  • Tax deferrals; and 
  • “Kurzarbeit”.  

 

Only small businesses of up to 10 employees are eligible for benefits in the form of non-loan payments. The German Retail Association has criticised that medium-sized companies are not covered by this.   Additionally, a new bill has passed - effective 1 April to 30 June disallowing landlords to terminate contracts where their tenants (commercial or private) can’t pay rent because of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.   Nevertheless, some companies with strong balance sheets, like Adidas, announced last week, they would cease rent payments, which has led to a public discussion about solidarity.  

Other major retail tenants like Deichmann and H&M have done the same, others are talking to their landlords about possible solutions.