Real Estate

Building cooperatives in times of housing shortage

Affordable housing in popular cities? This sounds like a dream to many, but it is made possible by cooperatives. However, low interest rates and a lack of housing do not leave them without a trace.

Four-room apartments with their own garden, single apartments in hip inner-city districts or age-appropriate apartments on the ground floor – each at prices below the local rate Rent index lie. Building cooperatives promise their members affordable living space and protection from luxury renovations.

“More and more younger people are looking for cooperative apartments,” says Matthias Zabel from the Federal Association of German Housing and Real Estate Companies (Gdw). The developments on the Housing market to accomplish.

More and more cooperatives are founded

According to Gdw, five million people across Germany live in apartments owned by the 2,000 building cooperatives. New building cooperatives are founded every year. More than 70 have joined the regional associations of the Gdw since 2010, says Zabel.

The Association of Bavarian Housing Companies even speaks of a real “wave of founding” not only from cooperatives, but also from municipal, church and public housing companies. “Committed citizens and municipalities want to take the reins into their own hands and create living space,” says association director Hans Maier. However, Zabel from GdW warns of a potential misunderstanding: “We cannot solve the problem on the housing market only by founding new companies.”

New cooperatives usually build themselves. Since they lack capital at the beginning, they usually have to charge higher rents than existing cooperatives. Five-digit sums are usually due for the cooperative shares. According to Zabel, shares in existing cooperatives are usually available for between 500 and 3,000 euros.

Lack of affordable building land

For existing cooperatives, on the other hand, there is another problem in metropolises like Berlin: a lack of building land. “With a few exceptions, private land is currently far too expensive for cooperative housing construction in Berlin,” says Carsten-Michael Röding, technical director of the Charlottenburg building cooperative. Land prices of 1,000 euros and more per square meter are too high to offer cooperative rents.

The alternative is urban building land, but in Berlin this is only given as a heritable building lease. With this model, the land remains the owner and leases the land for a period of usually 90 or 60 years in exchange for ground rent – and many cooperatives fear that this could rise after a while.

At least for existing cooperatives, these conditions are not attractive, says Röding. He doesn’t understand why there are no exceptions for building cooperatives and looks enviously to Munich, where the conditions are better. According to the housing policy action program of 2017, 20 to 40 percent of the communal space in new building projects is to be given to cooperatives and building associations. In addition, property tenders are tailored to their “interests”, it says in the paper.

New building projects are not enough for interested parties

Due to a lack of building land in Berlin, the Charlottenburger Baugenossenschaft is currently only building on its own land or adding to existing buildings. The view also goes to Brandenburg, says Röding. However, since the new building projects are not enough to offer an apartment to all interested parties, the Charlottenburg residents are currently only accepting relatives of their members.

The Berlin building cooperative (bbg) has also partially stopped admission. According to its commercial chairman Jörg Wollenberg, it is currently only expanding attic floors or compacting its own properties. In addition, the cooperative is constantly investing in its buildings. Since many members of the cooperative lived in their apartments for a long time, the electrics or the bathroom would have to be redone after moving out. “The question is whether such renovations will continue to this extent Rent cover are still possible. “

According to Wollenberg, the fact that Berlin is not currently accepting all interested parties is not only due to a lack of new construction projects. Due to the low interest rates, more and more investors bought shares in the cooperative who were not looking for an apartment. Last year bbg paid out a four percent dividend to its members. “At the moment, we can only accept people who are very regionally interested and who specify specific apartment requirements,” he says. 450 members are currently on the waiting list for an apartment.

Long waiting times for applicants

How long it takes before they are allocated an apartment depends on their wishes. In Berlin, for example, apartments with four or five rooms in family-friendly districts are in great demand. Cooperatives would have to wait up to five years for this. Sometimes it is faster in “Kiezbezirken”, such as Neukölln and Wedding.

Despite all the problems: the demand remains high. According to Wollenberg, interested parties therefore also apply for rental houses that are less in demand because of the noisy streets: “The main thing is that they get an apartment with the cooperative first.”

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