More and more Germans are looking for their dream home in the rural part of the country coronavirus pandemic re-prioritize home buyers, reignite a longing for green open space, fewer people and peace of mind – the luxury of big cities can hardly afford.
Demand for homes in rural areas as seen by contact requests received by sellers from interested buyers surged by 50% in May compared to last year, data from Germany’s top online real estate market ImmoScout24 showed. Although demand has declined since then, it is still 9% higher than last year.
The COVID-19 outbreak and sweeping action to contain it forced millions to live in homes – trials that were compounded by the absence of gardens or balconies in many cases, especially for families with children. Even those who have gardens or balconies realize how useful it is to have their own open space, especially during a pandemic, and add it to the list of things important for their future home.
Demand for rural homes has also been driven by flexibility of working from home. Most German companies order their employees to work from home to slow the spread of the virus and now after feeling the efficacy of long distance work, some of them seem uninterested in returning to their old ways. For many of their employees, it is just another incentive to dump their humble dwellings in the city for relatively luxurious country houses.
“Clearly, the corona pandemic has revived the desire for the countryside,” Thomas Schroeter, managing director of ImmoScout24, told DW.
House prices rise in rural Germany
Popular holiday areas in Germany, Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, and Schleswig-Holstein are in great demand, with their proximity to the Baltic Sea and many lakes, ImmoScout24 data shows. Properties with views of the Alps in Bavaria also witnessed a large growth in interest.
Home sellers receive three to five times more contact requests in several districts in the region during the week of July 12-18 compared to the week ending March 14, just before Coronavirus restrictions started.
The Bavarian city of Coburg, located on the Itz river, is the most sought after with an interest increase of almost 450%. Coburg is famous for its castle Veste Coburg, one of the largest in Germany, and because of his association with Martin Luther, who lived there for six months in the 16th century where he worked on his translation of the Bible in German.
The increase in demand has pushed up house prices in rural Germany. In mid-July, the average bid price was around € 2,370 ($ 2,780) per square meter, up 8% from last year, according to ImmoScout24. At the same time the supply of houses for sale is struggling to meet demand. Demand for houses in rural areas is 25% higher than supply.
German cities remain popular real estate markets
While rural homes sell like hot cakes, it hardly weakens the appeal of big cities. Data from ImmoScout24 shows that rented apartments, condos, and single-family homes in the city continue to be searched.
“The urban exodus, which has been predicted in some cases, has not yet taken place,” Schroeter said. “Many of them, who want to live in cities, are looking for new homes with balconies and parks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Experts say big cities won’t lose their allure in the near future thanks to better job opportunities, better schools, kindergartens and cultural offerings.
Vonovia, Germany’s largest residential property company, and smaller rival, Deutsche Wohnen, said demand for their property remained high. The two companies, which mostly focus on big city centers, do not see any change in their strategy going forward.
Vonovia’s spokeswoman Nina Henckel pointed to the company’s customer base. Vonovia tenants pay an average monthly rent of less than € 7 per square meter for an apartment, about half of the average rent in cities. This just shows that most of our tenants are from “different backgrounds” than people who can afford to buy houses in rural areas, he told DW.
The Cologne-based real estate company, Pandion, which sells high-value condominiums in major German cities such as Stuttgart, Munich and Berlin, also has no plans to enter the countryside.
Anja Ludwig, a company spokesman, told DW that demand for his apartment had returned to “normal levels” after a slight decline during the peak of the pandemic in March and April.