Buying Abroad: Berlin

Berlin is often referred to as the “Capital of Cool” – and for good reason. Find out what makes this great European city so hip and an attractive place to buy a primary residence or vacation home.

Oh the places you’ll go” – Dr. Seuss

Having just returned from a 10 day trip through Portugal and Spain, the inspiring effects of travel are top of mind for me right now. There is something unspeakably moving about visiting an unexplored place and experiencing life through a whole new palette and perspective.

Sometimes a visit to a new country can be so moving that people are compelled to stay there permanently, or at least purchase property and return as often as they possibly can. In past installments of our Buying Abroad series, we’ve heard from Coldwell Banker brokers in Turkey, France and Italy speak about what makes living in their country and cities such a special experience – while also giving us insight on the home buying process.

In our latest guest post, we are honored to hear from Christine De Eusebio with Coldwell Banker Berlin, who sheds light on why Berlin has become one of the hippest cities in Europe, and what the home buying process looks like for foreigners.

Staying true to form, Conan O’Brien’s recent trip to Berlin highlighted a few of Germany’s most famous exports including, bratwursts, beers, the autobahn, and for Berlin, its famous Reichstag, Berlin Wall, and of course, super club Berghain. Often heralded as “poor but sexy”, Berlin has emerged as more than just a party city in the last few years. Whether bohemian lifestyle seekers, startup founders, or art gallery aficionados, Berlin has a bit of something for everyone.

25 years since Berlin’s infamous wall came down and instigated a rush on housing investments, another wall is going up, necessitating another such rush. With Brexit on the way, London based firms are increasingly looking at Germany’s capital as a European safe haven, bringing an influx of workers with them. Berlin, possessing a mix of historic architecture, quickly gentrifying neighborhoods, enviable public infrastructure, and sprawling green spaces, is a top option.

Berlin combines the culture of New York, the traffic system of Tokyo, the nature of Seattle, and the historical treasures of, well, Berlin.” – Hiroshi Motomura

A cultural moshpit with distinctly different charms from “kiez” (neighborhood) to kiez, Berlin takes a world city of 3.5 million people, and breaks it down to a local level. Daily farmers markets, flea markets, and antiques markets make sure the city never lets its special charm go to waste. Graffiti is an artform to be embraced and treasured, regardless of status.

As in most international markets, house hunting can be time consuming. Germany offers no limitations on foreign buyers looking for real estate, but typical costs include agent commissions from 3-7%, a notary fee from 1.5-2%, and a property transfer tax, among other small administrative charges. One can expect total additional costs to amount to 10-12% of the final purchase price. Furthermore, purchasing property does not automatically guarantee a visa!

Residential property is far cheaper than other German population concentrations such as industry hub Munich, media center Hamburg, or finance capital Frankfurt. With increasing rental rates on average 45.2% higher than in 2009, both native Berliners and foreign investors are capitalizing on low interest rates to purchase properties. With much of the skyline dotted by construction cranes, a variety of new supply, from high-end in central Mitte to more affordable options in outlying districts, awaits buyers.

Berlin has seen significant growth over the past 5-10 years and this positive trend is expected to continue. New population influxes combined with record low interest rates make buying over renting an attractive option. Berlin sits at the table as a world class city worthy of comparing to the likes of London, New York, or San Francisco, but for a bit longer – a fraction of the price. We recommend you get in while you can!


If Christine’s beautiful portrayal of thriving Berlin has gotten you curious, feel free to visit to look at a few homes for sale. Even more curious? Be sure to take a look at Cartus Germany’s Florian Geier give us some tips on how to effectively relocate to Germany. We’re talking visas, housing, schools, food, transportation and more!

Senior Manager, Content & Multimedia at Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. In his role he manages content strategy and execution across several platforms. He’s held other roles within the Marketing Department ranging from Previews & Product Development to the day to day management of the redesign. Besides being a marketer, Gustavo is a filmmaker, musician and writer.

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