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How to buy an apartment in Germany (while in coronavirus lockdown)

How to buy an apartment in Germany (while in coronavirus lockdown)

How to buy an apartment in Germany (while in coronavirus lockdown)

As the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic continue to cause a huge deal of uncertainty throughout society, it may not seem like the most obvious time to look for a new home. Yet, as the lockdown heads towards a gradual easing in some places, many people are turning their attention back to activities they have put on hold.

In this shifting and unpredictable environment, some people will still be looking to move home, and may be unsure how their search for a new apartment could be affected. Technology is helping us to retain a level of normalcy in many aspects of our lives, and it can also help us here.

Prices are stable and interest rates are low

Firstly, does it even make sense to buy an apartment now? Well, the market will certainly have contracted over the past few months. In any time of uncertainty, people seek security, meaning there will be fewer people buying properties and fewer people selling.

This will obviously result in both a lower demand and supply of properties, though as this reduction acts upon both sides, prices are perhaps less affected than might be expected. The signs in Berlin show that prices have levelled off.

The other side of buying an apartment is obviously the financing. Interest rates were already low, and in some places have been slashed further, to historically low levels. On the one hand, this can be seen as a positive for anyone looking to finance their property purchase.

On the other hand, however, lenders are being far more rigorous about who they choose to lend to. Financial institutions fear uncertainty more than almost anything, and so lenders will need to be convinced that a prospective loan recipient is not likely to default on payments.

The future of real estate is digital

So, if you’re going ahead with buying an apartment, how is the process likely to be affected? Well, as we’re all finding during this period of quarantine, technology is helping us bridge these gaps. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the real estate industry.

Most estate agents are now offering initial consultations via video call. You can ask questions, get comprehensive advice and come a good deal closer to your dream home, without having to forego the advantages of face-to-face conversation. Here are a few more examples that go a little further.

Virtual 3D tours

Surely you can’t go to view an apartment while in lockdown? With 3D tours, you can view an apartment at any time, from the comfort of your own home. You can manoeuvre yourself around the virtual space and explore every corner of the property using a mouse or touchpad, or just scroll on your smartphone.

A three-dimensional dollhouse mode gives you an optimal feeling for the depth and height of the individual rooms, while a floor plan mode shows the apartment from a bird's eye view, allowing you to see the full layout and even plan furniture.

If you'd rather be guided through the apartment in comfort, a play function will take you on a tour through every room. These 3D models are so accurate, they even provide precise dimensions of the apartment. This is an innovative tour that may not be able to replace a real viewing, but can give a wonderful first impression.

Live video chat tours

Special circumstances require special measures. Some real estate companies are offering live video chat tours where you can interact – via FaceTime, Teams, Zoom or any other video app – with a consultant who will present your dream property to you on site - while you sit on your sofa.

You will be guided through each room and informed about the details of the apartment. In contrast to the 3D tours, the consultant is available to answer your questions and requests, so you can ask them about important things – such as background noise or atmosphere – that cannot be conveyed via a screen.

Smartlock systems

If you simply must see the property in person (which you really should!), you may be in luck. More and more properties are using a smartlock system, allowing you to visit without an agent. Using a code, you can open the door of the building in question, head to the apartment and take a look around for yourself.

This allows you to fully inspect the property at your leisure, and you can even chat to a consultant on the phone as you stroll around, asking any questions you may have. After you are finished, you can comfortably close the door and head home to consider.

Think long-term

If you are buying a new home, are planning to stay there for several years, and you have a stable and secure income, then there is no real reason why you should avoid buying an apartment now. There are many ways you can continue your search for a new home, either in person or via video, while mortgage calculators and other tools will help you plan your finances.

These are uncertain times, and uncertainty breeds doubt and a desire for security. But although the short-term outlook may not look that promising, in the medium- to long-term, things should hopefully not change that much. Remember, real estate is something whose life should be measured in years, and thus your considerations should be equally long-term.

Alex McKerrell

Author

Alex McKerrell

Originating from London, Alex has been living in Berlin since 2009, and working for EverEstate since its inception in 2017. EverEstate is the digital platform of the ZIEGERT Group for...

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