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New housing estate in Hanover: Housing must remain affordable for the broad middle class

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / dpa

Finance Minister Christian Lindner has appealed to the federal states to ensure a lower tax burden when buying real estate. "If it were up to me, the real estate transfer tax in the states should be reduced to zero," said the FDP politician on Tuesday. "I wanted to create the necessary legal leeway for the federal states last year, but unfortunately the offer has not yet been accepted."

Anyone who wants to build a single-family home or buy an apartment today already has to deal with high interest rates and increased construction costs. However, self-used housing must remain affordable for the broad middle of society, Lindner argued.

The Ministry of Finance had proposed to make the real estate transfer tax more flexible, among other things, with an allowance. In addition, countries should be able to create reduced tax rates for owner-occupied residential property. However, such a regulation requires the approval of the Bundesrat, which, according to sources in the ministry, is currently being refused by most countries. The real estate transfer tax is one of the state taxes, so the revenue flows into their coffers. It accounts for up to 6.5 percent of the purchase price.

Savings Bank President Helmut Schleweis had also suggested on Tuesday the tax relief for the purchase of real estate. "We propose to abolish at least the real estate transfer tax on owner-occupied residential property," said the President of the German Savings Banks and Giro Association (DSGV) to the editorial network Germany. In addition to higher interest rates and construction prices, the real estate transfer tax often destroys the dream of owning a home. "All of this adds up to the fact that a family with two average salaries can hardly afford home ownership – that's not acceptable," Schleweis said.

The president of the savings bank warned of social upheavals due to the housing shortage: "The situation on the housing market is socially explosive." When it comes to the construction of rental apartments, bureaucracy is the biggest problem. The building regulations would have to be "cleared out at all levels".