Average prices leapt 20.5% last year, prompting warnings of a property bubble waiting to burst
Berlin has emerged as the frothiest property market in the world, with the city engulfed by expensive highrise developments and speculative buying that threatens its traditionally low rents and hip arts scene.
Prices in Berlin jumped by 20.5% in 2017, according to the property consultancy Knight Frank, with other German cities also displacing cities in China in terms of rising prices.
Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt were ranked in the top 10 in the world for price rises, with several Dutch cities not far behind.
London was ranked 101st, with a 2% gain, while Auckland in New Zealand, once gripped by a property frenzy, dropped to 99th with a 2.2% increase.
But attempts by the authorities in Vancouver to quell its soaring prices including a 15% foreign buyer tax appear to have stalled, with prices in the Canadian city jumping by 16% in 2017, the fourth fastest in the world.
Berlins move to the top of risers followers several years of soaring prices; the average property price has increase by more than 120% since 2004.
Foreign buyers have flocked into Berlins residential and commercial property market, with the US investor Warren Buffet agreeing a deal last month to acquire a top-end real estate agent in the city that sells apartments for as much as 3.8m (3.3m).
The boom has been fuelled by cheap borrowing and a fast growing population. The citys population has grown by about 50,000 a year over the past five years to 3.5 million. It is projected to reach 4 million by 2035.
The surge in prices has prompted warnings of a bubble waiting to burst. In February, Germanys central bank, the Bundesbank, suggested that property in many German cities was at least 15% overpriced and could be as much as 35% overpriced in Berlin.
But to buyers from London or New York, Berlin remains cheap even after years of 10% annualised rises. Apartments in prime parts of the German capital fetch only about a third of the price of equivalent-sized properties in London.
On immowelt.de, a popular German property website, apartments in NeuKlln, which is regarded as one of the hippest neighbourhoods, can be found 175,000 and are marked by the agents as Ihr cleveres investment.
Commercial property is also booming. Berlins Sony centre complex, emblematic of the citys regeneration after the fall of the Berlin Wall, was bought for 1.1bn in October by the pension fund of Ontarios municipal employees. Meanwhile Norways state pension fund has paid about 400m for the Mitte headquarters of media group Axel Springer.
10 fastest rising property markets in the world in 2017
- Berlin 20.5%
- zmir 18.5%
- Reykjavik 16.6%
- Vancouver 16.0%
- Hong Kong 14.8%
- Budapest 15.5%
- Hamburg 14.1%
- Munich 13.8%
- Rotterdam 13.4%
- Frankfurt 13.4%
Source: Knight Frank global residential cities index