Study on housing

Here's how many apartments are lacking in Bonn and the region

Auf dem früheren Arkema-Gelände drehen sich die Kräne: Die Hochbauarbeiten haben begonnen.

A study indicates that too many apartments are being built in rural areas, while too few are being built in large cities.

COLOGNE. Anyone looking for an apartment in Bonn senses that there are too few new apartments being built to keep up with demand. In the Rhine-Sieg district, the situation is even more dramatic.

Whether Bonn, Cologne or Düsseldorf: According to a study, far too few apartments are being built in German cities. According to a study by the Institute of the German Economy (IW) in Cologne, only 72 percent of the demand for new housing in Bonn has been met since 2016.

The authors compared the number of apartments completed in the past three years with an estimated demand, based on factors such as population development and vacancies. According to the study, 2,157 ready-to-occupy apartments would theoretically have to be available to cover the annual demand in Bonn. According to the Federal Statistical Office, however, the actual inventory is 1,553 apartments.

The ratio is even worse in the Rhine-Sieg district. Here, only 63 percent of the housing needs are covered: 1,963 new housing units have been completed in contrast to the need for 3,093 apartments.

In other big cities, things are looking bad as well. In Stuttgart, for example, only 56 percent of the apartments needed were actually built. The situation was only slightly better in Munich (67 percent), Berlin (73) and Frankfurt/Main (78). "Not only are there currently no apartments available here, but there is also a need for a further increase in construction activity in the longer term," write the authors Ralph Henger and Michael Voigtländer.

Allocation of land for development is important

Also in many university cities like Münster, not enough new housing is being built. Some of the reasons are the high influx of people into the cities, the shortage of personnel in municipal planning offices, strict regulations and the shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry. "One cannot keep up with the construction," said Henger.

The authors warn that cities have to make an effort to slow down the increase in rents. In the big cities, the availability of land for development in order to attract investors is decisive.  There are also some places where old buildings should be renovated instead of constructing new ones.

The federal government and the state also need to provide greater financial support to cities such as Cologne that are in dire financial straits, for example when it comes to the expansion of local public transport. If the surrounding area were better connected, housing there would become more attractive and the inner-city pressure on the housing market would weaken somewhat.

The situation in rural areas is quite different: There is too much new housing being built in some places, such as Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony, Saarland and the outskirts of Bavaria. "Although there is a lot of vacancy in the countryside, relatively many new homes are being constructed, which are preferred, although in many places it makes more sense to renovate existing buildings," said study author Henger.

The principle of "reconstruction before new construction"

Due to new development areas on the outskirts of small towns, city and village centers are losing importance and the vacancy problem is getting worse. "Municipalities in rural areas far away from big cities should do better land management in order to remain attractive and avoid vacancies in the center of the town".

The principle of " reconstruction before new construction " is important here. In one third of German districts, "construction activity when it comes to new buildings should be slowed down in order to avoid oversupply," the study says.

In 2019 and 2020, 342,000 new dwellings will be needed throughout Germany to meet the demand. Only 287,000 apartments were completed in 2018. This figure is unlikely to pick up significantly this year, so the discrepancy between supply and demand remains large.

But the study also contains some reasonably good news. In the future, the problem of housing shortages could ease somewhat: According to estimates by the authors of the study, demand will fall to around 260,000 apartments per year by 2025 and to around 246,000 apartments per year by 2030. The main reason for this: An expected decline in immigration, which is unlikely to remain permanently at a level of more than 400,000 people per year.

(Orig. text: dpa, Translation: ck)