Fall in Love with Berlin Altbau Apartments

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Altbau apartments in Berlin

When apartment-hunting in Berlin, you will come across two types of houses: Altbau and Neubau. An Altbau (literally “old building”) is a building that was constructed from the mid-19th century up to the 1940s. A Neubau (“new building”) is simply any other building built post-1945, including completely new properties being constructed now. Thinking logically, it may make the most sense to invest in a more modern Neubau. However, be prepared to fall in love with an Altbau the moment you lay your eyes on one. There seems to be a particular air of fin-de-siècle romance with old buildings, that simply isn’t there with Neubaus. These buildings have a charm and beauty, not to mention a historical significance that cannot be found anywhere else.

The Altbau appeal

When you compare properties, you will likely be surprised to find that Altbaus offer a specific appeal and particular benefits to prospective homebuyers. Just like high-end modern refurbishments, Altbaus have their own appeal. They are praised for their distinctive characteristics and beautifully appointed architecture that gives them the magnetic power to attract huge numbers of residents. However, before you choose to own a historic piece of the German capital, you will first need to gather a lot of information about them.

A brief history of the Altbau building

As mentioned earlier, Altbau is a German term that refers to period properties dating from the mid-19th century up to the 1940s. They were commonly constructed in an Art Nouveau Style, known in Germany as Jugendstil, with various echelons of sophistication. To give the homes a distinct look, architects often used antique coloured glass and ornaments, along with stucco for décor. In neighbourhoods with a high concentration of old buildings, such as Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg, and Charlottenburg, some of the more prestigious buildings even feature antique frescoes and ornate marble entranceways, as well as bench seats and period elevators.

Altbau room with double doors and high ceilings

What makes Altbaus unique to live in?

Before buying, you might be interested in knowing what makes them different from more modern buildings. These antique pieces of art are characterised by high ceilings, often of about 3.5m, giving the rooms a lovely spacious feel. If you are lucky, you will find an apartment fitted with well-taken-care-of parquet flooring. This flooring is usually made of high quality pine boards that look great and are easy to maintain. In addition, they tend to have large rooms, making them ideal for those looking for family-friendly properties in Berlin with plenty of space. In many neighbourhoods around the city, the attics of the old buildings are being transformed into attractive penthouses. This is often accompanied by removing part of the roof and replacing it with a sun-terrace, taking advantage of Berlin’s flat geography to allow for some spectacular views across the city. Such reconstruction has significantly increased the apartments' popularity among homebuyers.

The cost of an Altbau apartment as an investment

When looking for properties in which to invest, value for money is what you should pay attention to. Apart from their exterior appeal, Altbaus also provide several financial benefits too. They often begin at a lower, entry-level price, considering that they are comparatively cheaper than new buildings, though the amount of money you will spend on one will obviously depend on the location, the current market price, size, number of rooms etc.

Three key factors to consider before buying

Buying any building is a major decision. One thing you should remember is that not everyone has a lifestyle that can sustain an older property. Even if you find it in good shape when hunting for a home, you should anticipate having to carry out regular and specialised maintenance. That said, there are key purchasing points that you should consider before buying any property, especially if you choose to go the Altbau way. They include;

Cost: although the price of an Altbau property is lower than that of a new property, you need to factor in the cost of maintenance. Ensure that your income is enough, and you can spend about 5-10% of your yearly mortgage payments for annual maintenance. The neighbourhood: you may love the property from the first impression, but do you like its location? Well, if you don't love the neighbourhood, then there is no need to view the inside. Always focus on the house you need, but never overlook its context. It matters! To IKEA or not to IKEA: As mentioned above, old buildings have certain charms and in general are better value for money per square metre when compared to Neubaus. So you need to factor in the cost of furnishing, not just the volume of furniture needed but the quality of furniture too. Do old apartments deserve the best or is IKEA just perfect for all apartment types? We’ll leave this up to you.

A bright and airy Altbau apartment in Berlin

Unique selling points of Altbau apartments

If you choose to buy an Altbau apartment, you will enjoy a range of benefits:

  • old-world character which cannot be found in modern constructions

  • artistic hardwood flooring, making them cosy and increase resale value

  • superb furnishing options as motivation to let your inner interior designer out

Own a piece of Berlin history

Whenever you are looking for properties, you will notice that Altbau apartments are the defining feature in the most popular neighbourhoods around the city. Even with the ever-increasing population and occupancy rates, the demand for these iconic pieces of history keeps pace. For that reason, if you are looking for an attractive purchase that will come with an array of long-term financial benefits, consider buying Altbau apartments in Berlin now. Ensure you work with a dependable real estate company so that you can get the best deals you can find.

Frequently asked questions

Written by:

Jason Pocock

Jason is passionate about the real estate market and helping EverEstate disrupt the industry. He loves sharing his views on why buying a property is so important and why Berlin is a great city to call home.

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