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Housing Shortage in Berlin despite Construction Boom

According to the latest population forecasts, the German capital is well on its way to become a metropolis of four million. The unchecked incoming migration has intensified the local housing demand, and the city is hard pressed to cope. Figures released by the Berlin-Brandenburg Statistics Office show that more than 13,500 flats were completed in Berlin last year. This is admittedly good news in the sense that completions appear to have gone up by a quarter year on year. However, the completions total still lags far behind the actual demand of 20,000 new flats annually.

Treptow-Köpenick the Leading Borough in Terms of Completions

With more than 2,700 new-build flats, the south-eastern borough of Treptow-Köpenick topped the list of completed residential units last year, followed by the borough of Mitte with roughly 2,200 flats. The last borough on the list is Spandau with around 330 new residential units only. What all of the city’s boroughs have in common, however, is that actual housing construction falls short of demand. Many people who are willing to accept lengthy commutes respond by moving into the suburbs. But this workaround has done little to ease the strain on Berlin’s housing market.

Zoning New Urban Districts to Fight the Housing Shortage

Another reason for the housing shortage is the lack of building land. A recent survey by the IW German Economic Institute concluded that subsequent densification and brownfield development alone will not suffice to cover demand in Berlin. One option for making additional land available for property development is to zone entirely new districts, which would be a long-term approach to relieving the market. When creating new sub-districts, however, great care should be taken to ensure that the number of flats in multi-dwelling units exceeds the number of detached and semi-detached homes – and that the risk of repeating a misguided housing policy is defused from the start.