“Housing shortage becomes permanent”

In the past year, building permits continued to decrease. For single-family houses they fell by one percent, for two-family houses by 6.5 percent. The coalition threatens to miss its new building target.

Despite the high demand, building permits are decreasing.

TDespite the lack of housing in many German regions, the hoped-for upswing in building permits failed to materialize in 2018. Their number fell by 0.2 percent or by 800 to 347,300 approved apartments, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on Thursday. Already in 2017, the pledges fell by more than 7 percent due to the break-in in the construction of refugee accommodation, after increasing continuously from 2008 to 2016. The Union and the SPD are threatening to miss their goal: In the coalition agreement they aimed to build around 1.5 million apartments by 2021 – that would be 375,000 per year.

Building permits for apartments in apartment buildings increased last year against the trend by 4.7 percent. In contrast, the number of building permits for single-family houses fell by 1.0 percent and for two-family houses by 6.5 percent. There was a decrease of 24 percent for dormitories. Both permits for new buildings and for the renovation of existing buildings are counted.

“That is not a good sign for the future of affordable housing,” said the President of the Central Association of the Housing Industry (GdW), Axel Gedaschko. “The housing shortage in Germany is becoming a permanent situation.” The planning and construction acceleration law anchored in the coalition agreement must now come quickly. In addition, tax improvements for residential construction should be implemented as a permanent change instead of just for three years. The approval capacities in the offices should also be increased.

According to the construction industry, 400,000 new apartments a year cannot be created

“The queues for viewing apartments are not getting any shorter through ongoing announcements and promises,” said the President of the Federal Association of Independent Real Estate and Housing Companies (BFW), Andreas Ibel. “If politicians are really serious about the plan to boost new construction, words must finally be followed by action.” The BFW also blames the lack of availability of building plots for the negative trend. More and less expensive land must be made available. The regulatory requirements have also quadrupled since 1990 from 5,000 to 20,000 and therefore urgently need to be purged.

Even according to the German construction industry, the target set by the federal government of 400,000 new apartments per year is not achievable. “We think 320,000 apartments are realistic, it could also be 330,000,” said Felix Pakleppa, General Manager of the Federal Association of the Construction Industry, on Thursday at the Munich trade fair. “We assume that we will see strong demand in residential construction for another two or three years.” After that, demand will certainly decline.

Above all, multi-storey houses with rental and owner-occupied apartments are being built. “Classic home construction is stagnating at the previous year’s level,” said association boss Marcus Nachbauer.