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The quest for affordable owner-occupied housing in Germany

Carolin E. Schmidt (ZEW – Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research, Mannheim, Germany)

Journal of European Real Estate Research

ISSN: 1753-9269

Article publication date: 3 September 2019

Issue publication date: 20 November 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Even though housing prices in Germany are low by international standards, housing in urban areas has become less affordable. Since 2018, certain families aspiring to become homeowners may apply for a capital subsidy (Baukindergeld) that contributes to their down-payment. This paper analyzes whether this subsidy is an appropriate policy instrument to achieve the desired goals.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper presents an equilibrium model with two types of households (low- and high-income) and two types of houses (low- and high-quality) to examine equilibrium prices before and after the introduction of a subsidy.

Findings

This subsidy not only makes owning less affordable for the lower-income household but also increases the prices of more expensive houses that are not within reach of lower-income households.

Research limitations/implications

Because this policy has just come into effect in 2018 and no data are available yet, the implications of the model are yet to be tested.

Practical implications

The implications of the subsidy run counter to its intentions as house prices will rise even further. Other policies or fewer regulations for new construction may be more effective.

Social implications

An instrument aiming to relieve financially weaker families, this subsidy will increase prices for all house types, assuming continuing supply shortages observed in the German urban housing markets.

Originality/value

This is the first paper on Germany’s new homeownership subsidy. The model is general enough to be used with any explicit demand and supply functions and is thus applicable to other markets with low supply elasticities.

Keywords

Citation

Schmidt, C.E. (2019), "The quest for affordable owner-occupied housing in Germany", Journal of European Real Estate Research, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 365-379. https://doi.org/10.1108/JERER-10-2018-0046

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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