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COVID-19 Causes Flat-Hunting Priorities to Shift

The coronavirus crisis has also changed the preferences among those Germans who are seeking to buy apartments. Against the background of the pandemic, the majority of apartment seekers currently rate financial feasibility as the one factor with the highest relevance, or so a recent survey suggests that was commissioned by PSD Bank Nord and the DeinNeuesZuhause real estate portal. For the survey, a total of 1,500 people aged 18 or older were polled late last year.1

According to the survey, the financial aspect tops the list of priorities for 59 percent of the respondents when looking to buy or rent a home, thus ranging slightly ahead of the option of a garden or balcony (56 percent). The good news specifically for condominium buyers is that interest rates are lower than ever before at the moment, making it easier to obtain a financing arrangement even in times of the corona pandemic.

That the persistent low interest rate environment generally spurred demand for residential real estate last year despite the crisis is illustrated by a survey of the mortgage broker, Interhyp, which shows that a growing number of people took advantage of the uniquely favourable conditions in 2020 to make their dream of homeownership come true, be it by building or buying a home. This is unsurprising insofar as the level of interest rates for construction finance in 2020 was barely a quarter of what the standard conditions had been ten years earlier.2

High-Speed Internet Gaining in Significance

Ranking third among the preferences of respondent apartment seekers are infrastructure-related aspects such as the proximity of shopping venues, medical amenities as well as day nurseries and schools (prioritised by 54 percent). In addition, the desire for a high-powered broadband connection has moved up in the ranking and taken the place of flat size, a shift motivated by the needs of home schooling and working from home. More than half of the respondents (52 percent) stated in the survey that the availability of “high-speed Internet” is of “very high relevance” in the search for a home – whereas flat size closely trails this factor (51 percent).

According to the survey, there is reason to assume that the trend is permanent, and that it will therefore be sustained beyond the end of the pandemic. In other words, swapping the office workplace for the home office is rated as a long-term development. As a consequence, criteria like “high-speed Internet” could conceivably become an integral part of the search portal checklists.

Homes Outside the Cities Gaining in Appeal

In a parallel development, homes beyond the city limits are considered increasingly attractive, even if they need to be refurbished at great cost – and this, too, appears to be a consequence of the trend toward working from home. After all, people working from home do not have to endure lengthy commutes to work or at least not as often. This scenario, too, presupposes broadband connectivity.

Meanwhile, renters and prospective buyers of condominiums have become aware of the subjects of sustainability and conservation and give them due consideration when choosing a home. The survey suggests that one in ten apartment seekers already expect the building of their choice to be equipped with a charging station for electric vehicles. Electric cars were said to be particularly popular among residents of suburbia, who see them as a green alternative. In short, residential landlords and sellers are well advised to go with the times, and not just as far as broadband is concerned.