The sentiment of real estate investors is at an all-time low.

DThe sentiment of real estate investors seems to be at an all-time low. According to the quarterly market barometer by real estate consultancies BF direkt, Bulwiengesa, and Colliers, it has reached its lowest point since the survey began. With a score of -20.22, the sentiment level in the third quarter is even lower than during the financial crisis in 2008 or the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mark Fehr

Redakteur in der Wirtschaft.

The basis for the barometer is a regular survey among over 100 credit experts who provide real estate loans to investors or project developers in mortgage banks, cooperative banks, or savings banks. Many survey participants report more restrictive financing conditions, which means that banks are demanding higher interest rates and borrowers need to bring more equity capital. As a result, new business is declining significantly. The mood has also been dampened in recent weeks and months by numerous insolvencies of project developers such as Gerchgroup in Düsseldorf or Euroboden in Munich.

Flaute im Neugeschäft mit Immobilien

Andreas Schulten from Bulwiengesa speaks of a downturn in the industry, as only 11 percent of market participants report increasing new business. Francesco Fedele, CEO of BF direkt, says: „The imagination is gone, it is calculated in an old-fashioned way.“ According to Andreas Trumpp from Colliers, cash flow has become the decisive factor. This means that investors and lenders assess whether the ongoing rental income is sufficient to cover the operating costs and financing interest of a property.

Für die Wende am einst boomenden Immobilienmarkt verantwortlich sind die Inflation und das Ende der Niedrigzinsphase. Um die rasant gestiegenen Verbraucherpreise unter Kontrolle zu bekommen, hat die Europäische Zen­tralbank vergangene Woche schon zum zehnten Mal den Leitzins erhöht. Daher gehören günstige Immobilienfinanzierungen der Vergangenheit an.

The experts from BF direkt, Bulwiengesa, and Colliers emphasize, however, that real estate projects vary greatly, so not all are equally affected. They note that hotels are experiencing a renaissance with the decline of the pandemic, while the outlook for office buildings remains challenging. Therefore, a decline in the transaction market for offices is expected to continue.

Für Wohnungen sind die Fachleute nicht sonderlich optimistisch. Trotz der hohen Nachfrage nach Wohnraum ist der Neubau eingebrochen. Viel Hoffnung auf Besserung gibt es nicht. „Wir rutschen wahrscheinlich noch tiefer in die Wohnungskrise“, befürchtet Schulten. Zwar gebe es auch einige erfolgversprechende Projekte, in denen Büros zu Wohnungen umgebaut würden, etwa in Niederrad bei Frankfurt. Doch sei der Umbau von Büro- zu Wohnimmobilien in der Regel aufwendig und teuer, weil die Strukturen der Gebäude sich stark unterscheiden.

Construction projects are not only hindered by increasing financing costs and construction prices, but also by sometimes excessive bureaucracy. While Schulte advocates for simplifying regulations, Trumpp would be satisfied with standardization. So far, regulations vary depending on the federal state. Experts point to historical examples in the Netherlands and Sweden, where their housing shortages were alleviated through streamlining building laws and liberalizing the market.