German Property

German Property Crisis Amid Decline in Foreign Investment

35% – that’s the staggering decline in foreign buyers’ share of commercial property purchases in Germany during the first quarter of this year, according to a report from BNP Paribas Real Estate. This figure is the smallest result since 2013, down from 37% of transaction volumes in the German commercial property market in 2023. The investment drop is driven by several factors, including high inflation and fears of an impending recession in Germany.

Despite the economy performing better than expected in the first three months of the year, with GDP up 0.2%, experts believe that structural issues will continue to hamper the country’s economic output. The German property market, long considered an attractive investment destination, is now facing a crisis as overseas investors shy away from the market.


Key Takeaways

  • Foreign buyers accounted for only 35% of commercial property purchases in Germany during Q1 2023, down from 37% in 2023.
  • High inflation and recession fears are driving the decline in foreign investment in the German property market.
  • Although Germany’s GDP grew 0.2% in the first quarter, experts believe structural issues will continue to hamper the country’s economic output.
  • The German property market’s appeal as an investment destination is waning due to the current economic climate.
  • The decline in foreign investment is a significant challenge for the German property sector.


High Interest Rates and Economic Uncertainty Deter Overseas Investors

German Property

The German real estate market has experienced a significant decline in foreign investment, with foreign buyers responsible for only 35% of commercial property purchases in the first quarter of 2023, according to a report from BNP Paribas Real Estate. This is a smaller result than any year since 2013 and comes after foreign investors accounted for 37% of transaction volumes in German commercial property in the previous year.

Foreign Buyers Account for 35% of Commercial Property Purchases

The drop in foreign investment is driven by a number of factors, including high interest rates and economic uncertainty that are deterring overseas investors from the German real estate market. The BNP Paribas Real Estate report highlights that high inflation and fears of a potential recession in Germany are also contributing to the decline in foreign investment in commercial property.

Germany’s Sluggish Economic Performance

Despite the economy performing better than expected in the first three months of the year, with GDP growth of 0.2%, experts believe that structural issues will continue to hamper Germany’s economic output. The country’s economy actually shrank by 0.3% in both the fourth quarter and over the whole of 2023, making Germany the worst performing major economy on a global scale last year.

The sluggish economic performance in Germany can be attributed to a variety of structural issues that have been plaguing the country. While the economy managed to eke out modest growth in the first quarter, the overall trend points to continuing challenges for Germany’s economy.

Factors Contributing to Germany’s Downturn

The downturn can partially be explained by pointing to Europe’s energy crisis, as Germany’s industrial sector was heavily dependent on Russian fuel. Even so, there are more stubborn problems set to hamper future growth.

Europe’s Energy Crisis and Dependence on Russian Fuel

The reliance on Russian fuel has been a significant factor in Germany’s economic decline, as the country grappled with the fallout from the energy crisis that swept across Europe.

An aging population, a lack of public investment, overzealous bureaucracy, and sluggish productivity are all contributing to Germany’s downturn. These structural issues have proven to be stubborn challenges, hindering the country’s ability to bounce back from the economic turmoil.

German Property Market’s Attractive Factors

While some of the issues plaguing the German economy were present during the decade preceding the pandemic, the German property market has historically boasted a number of attractive factors that drew in investors. Low unemployment rates, economic stability, and low interest rates notably boosted the country’s profile as a desirable real estate destination.

Germany’s “Labour Market Miracle” from 2005 to 2019

According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Germany experienced a remarkable “labour market miracle” starting around 2005. During this period, employment in the country increased by more than 15%, rising from 39.3 million people in 2005 to 45.3 million in 2019. This impressive labor market performance, coupled with the nation’s economic stability and low borrowing costs, contributed to the German property market’s appeal for foreign and domestic investors alike.

Failure to Adapt to Technological Advancements

Real Estate Property

Compared with its European peers, Germany emerged relatively unscathed from the financial crisis of 2008, although productivity did begin to dip. Some experts argue its present troubles are caused to some extent by Germany’s failure to fully capitalize on technological advancements, combined with a shift towards low-productivity sectors.

As the world rapidly embraces digital transformation, Germany has struggled to keep pace. While other nations have leveraged technological advancements to drive innovation and boost productivity, Germany appears to have been left behind. This inability to adapt has become a significant factor in the country’s economic woes, as it fails to fully capitalize on the benefits of emerging technologies.

The shift towards low-productivity sectors, such as services and retail, has also contributed to Germany’s challenges. As the economy moves away from its traditional manufacturing base, the country has found it increasingly difficult to maintain its competitive edge. This structural change, coupled with the lack of investment in technological advancements, has created a perfect storm of economic stagnation.

Addressing this failure to adapt will be critical for Germany’s future economic success. Policymakers must prioritize investment in technology, education, and innovation to ensure the country can keep pace with its global competitors and regain its position as a leading economic powerhouse.

German Property Market Structure

As much as Germany’s economic challenges may deter investors, the structure of the nation’s property market can also pose barriers to investment. Unlike more centralized countries like France and the UK, Germany’s economic strength is spread across multiple cities such as Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Cologne. This decentralized approach means that Germany lacks a stand-out investment hub, which is often the preferred destination for investors seeking to deploy their capital.

The absence of a dominant real estate center in Germany can be both a blessing and a curse. While it ensures that economic opportunity is not concentrated in a single location, it also prevents the formation of a critical mass of activity that could attract significant foreign investment. Investors often gravitate towards markets with clear leadership and a well-developed ecosystem of supporting services, something that Germany’s diffuse property landscape currently lacks.

Residential Construction Sector Struggles

Residential Property

As cost pressures persist and construction sector prices remain high, experts are not expecting a strong increase in housing demand this year. The residential construction sector, a crucial component of the German property market, is facing significant challenges that could have far-reaching implications.

Over Half of Companies Report Lack of Orders in April

A report from the IFO institute published earlier this month reveals a concerning trend in the residential construction sector. In April, more than half of the companies (55.2%) in Germany’s residential construction sector reported a lack of orders, indicating a slowdown in demand for new housing projects.

Construction Companies Report Cancellations

On the other hand, the struggles in the residential construction sector are further exacerbated by the reports of cancellations from building construction companies. Some 17.6% of these companies reported cancellations in April, down from 19.6% in March, but still a significant concern for the industry.

What is the Impact on the Housing Market?

The struggles faced by the residential construction sector in Germany are expected to have a negative impact on the housing market. As cost pressures persist and construction sector prices remain high, experts anticipate a weak increase in housing demand this year. This slowdown in the construction industry is likely to reverberate across the broader housing market, creating challenges for potential homebuyers and investors alike.

The decline in new residential construction projects, coupled with the cancelation of existing orders, suggests that the impact on the housing market may be significant. Prospective homeowners may find it increasingly difficult to find suitable properties, leading to a potential decrease in home sales and further pressure on property prices.

Moreover, the impact on the housing market could extend beyond the residential sector, as the overall economic uncertainty and high inflation rates continue to weigh on consumer confidence. This could lead to a broader slowdown in the real estate industry, affecting both commercial and residential segments.


The German property market is facing a significant crisis as foreign investment declines due to high interest rates, economic uncertainty, and other structural issues impacting the country’s overall economic performance. The lack of a standout investment hub, sluggish technological adaptation, and challenges in the residential construction sector are all contributing to this downturn.

As the country grapples with these issues, it will be crucial for policymakers and industry stakeholders to develop strategies to address the underlying structural problems and restore confidence in the German property market. The path forward will require a multifaceted approach that addresses the various drivers of the current crisis and positions the market for long-term sustainable growth.

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PFS Property Group Spain SL
VAT No (ES)B16665721
Calle Olozaga 8, 29005, Malaga, Spain
[email protected]