The number of building permits did not increase significantly in the first ten months of this year compared to the previous year. This comes from figures from the Federal Statistical Office. According to this, the authorities approved the construction or renovation of almost 289,700 apartments. Their number remained almost at the previous year's level. While official commitments for single-family houses rose by 1.4 percent, there were slight declines both for two-family houses (-0.2 percent) and for multi-family houses (-0.9).
At the same time, the authority pointed out that the number of new permits has been higher than the number of building completions for some time. This overhang has been increasing for several years. The Federal Statistical Office had only recently published new figures on building congestion. Accordingly, last year there were more than twice as many approved but not yet completed apartments as in 2008. The number rose from around 320,000 to almost 700,000.
Delays occur particularly often in large cities and conurbations. Economists cite the reasons for this as, among other things, busy construction companies, increased prices and a shortage of skilled workers in the construction industry. Speculation objects and areas also play a role in the big cities.
The number of building permits is considered an important factor in assessing the future development of housing construction. In 2020, the number of completed apartments should remain well below the estimated need. In order to meet the great demand for real estate, 350,000 to 400,000 apartments have to be built in Germany every year, according to politicians and the construction industry. In the coalition agreement, the federal government had agreed to create at least 1.5 million new apartments by 2021. That corresponds to 375,000 apartments per year.
In addition to stagnating housing construction, the average rents in metropolitan areas that have risen in recent years are also weighing on the housing market. With 10.49 euros per square meter, according to ZEIT ONLINE's calculations, for example in Berlin, 42 percent more rent is now paid for a newly rented apartment than in 2012. With an average rent of 11.59 euros, Hamburg ranks second, Cologne 11.13 euros in third place. It is the most expensive in Munich (17.51 euros).
High rents, brazen landlords, plus the fear that they will soon no longer be able to afford an apartment: The rental market is causing many people concern these days and is also more important to politics than ever. In the "Renting at the Limit" focus, ZEIT ONLINE illuminates the various facets of the crisis - with reports, data analyzes and interviews.