Housing shortage is also an opportunity

To quickly implement a sustainable and needs-based urban development, the construction industry hopes for support from the government.

Little vacancy is representative of the good structural conditions of a location. The vacancy rates of multi-storey apartments in Germany are at an average of less than 3 percent. In cities, the rate is even under 2 percent and the real estate market is getting narrower. In Berlin, housing vacancy has fallen from 5.1% in 2003 to 0.4% in 2018, according to the CBRE Empirica vacancy index. Other swarm areas and metropolitan regions such as Frankfurt am Main, Leipzig or Stuttgart show similar tendencies. “The trend for more young people to leave rural areas and more single households to increase the demand for housing will not change. The housing shortage will even aggravate in metropolitan areas, because the supply does not meet. From this situation, however, opportunities for needs-based and sustainable urban development can be derived, “predicts Charles Smethurst, founder of the real estate company Dolphin. For almost 10 years, the project developer and his company has been active in the real estate market, focusing specifically on the top 10 cities in Germany, ie those regions that are particularly dependent on the creation of new housing.

Niche segment listed property
Smethurst has already recognized the special charm of listed properties before the company was founded. “At that time, we gave new buildings specific architectural features of old buildings.” When the best of new and old was realized with a clear emphasis on new, modern construction, Smethurst now specializes in the renovation and repair of heritage-protected properties. Vacant properties of various sizes are bought and rehabilitated by the Dolphin Group. The project developer thus creates coveted living space, often in the city center or with an appropriate connection to the city center. The completed homes of the Dolphin Group are popular with buyers, firstly because of the possibility of tax depreciation on the renovation of listed properties, secondly because Dolphin offers apartments with a special historic flair. In addition, all apartments offer the latest structural and energy standards for historic buildings.

Challenges of the real estate market
Although Smethurst has established a successful business in a niche segment of the real estate market with the Dolphin Group, and the apartments not only guarantee price stability but also value enhancement, he hopes for more political and regulatory support: “We are facing a societal challenge – And I’m talking for all property developers, not just for the few in the listed area – because approval procedures still take too long. Not only lack of construction space, but also low flexibility of the policy complicate the realization of construction projects, where they are urgently needed. We try to remedy the situation. “Many plots of land with historically listed properties were once generously invested and have unused land. Dolphin uses this open space, where possible, for neighborhood development: The old building is complemented by subtle, stylistically adapted new buildings. This not only maximizes the available living space with old and new buildings, but also, the Dolphin Group remains true to its claim: A new future for history.

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