Grant Reynolds has been with IP Global for over 15 years. He's seen us enter 28 new cities and how the markets have evolved since our first few properties. Today, we interviewed him about his recent trip to Berlin and Leipzig, markets that continue to provide a compelling case for investment.
I shared with my colleague David that actually I first went to Berlin in 1978, way before he was born! Back then it was a divided city, poor and on its knees, an inner beauty but mixed with much pain and despair – when I returned in 2015 the Berlin Wall had been down for over 20 years and the city was in the midst of an economic revival.
Berlin, Germany - June 10, 2013
From the minute I landed at the new Berlin Brandenberg Airport I was blown away by the transformation. The shiny, bright new airport absolutely personifies the new Berlin – within 30 minutes I was in the centre of the city and new infrastructure littered the skyline from fancy new apartments along the River Spree to the glistening buildings of Europa City and Berlin Hauptbahnhof Central Station.
Great question! It's fair to say that in both cities the west sides very much still reflect "old money", classic architecture intertwined with modern landmarks. In Leipzig, the glistening Red Bull Arena is home of the successful RB Leipzig FC and in Berlin the modern architecture along the Ku Damm mixed amongst period buildings.
On the east side of Berlin, a city once divided is now re-united with tons of regeneration and an environment brewing for creatives. Leipzig’s east side is also up-and-coming, young professionals are moving east given great transport links and better value real estate.
Indeed, I did! For me this was one of the best parts of my trip, engaging with the locals - from those in our hotel to those eating out by the Brandenberg gate, Ku Damm, and central Leipzig. Certainly, Leipzig and Berlin are very much international cities, and I was pleased that the Germans I spoke to could comfortably speak English as my German is a bit rusty since I lived there many years ago. Those who I spoke to were proud of their city – young Berliners confident of the future after a challenging past – those in Leipzig embracing unified Germany and seizing the economic opportunities presented to them since high-level long-term planning was set in motion over 20 years ago now.
I also got the sense that locals feel that Leipzig is very much a hidden gem, given its beautiful architecture (see below Leipzig train station for example) to the large corporates based here, you can truly see why this city is the fastest growing in Germany.
The rents -rents are moving upward fast! Germany has a very open-door policy for immigration – lots of skilled jobs are being created in Berlin and Leipzig and there simply isn’t enough property. The incredible modernisation of both cities and the amazing transport infrastructure provides a strong platform for future growth. I was also surprised that Leipzig is only 1 hour and 15 minutes from Berlin by train. It’s also very cheap to get around, EUR8 will provide you a day ticket all-round the city of Leipzig.
Getting enough property for the growing population has to be the biggest issue. Both cities are in danger of becoming a victim to their own success. There is an accute undersupply of housing and, like the UK, with so planning rules and regulations, it is a difficult obstacle to overcome. It is a big positive for potential investors though, and the number one reason IP Global is so active in this market. The tax advantages (no capital gains after a 10-year hold) also go hand in hand with attracting property investors.
I came away from Berlin and Leipzig extremely excited about the next decade of growth opportunity – a lot has changed since my last visit in 2015 and I won't leave so long before I am back again.
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