Property investments and choosing locations: a brief glance at the peripheries of the city

22 October, 2021

Even during the pandemic demand for property investments has only essentially reduced in a few commercial segments. Just as before among private and institutional investors residential property especially, in various stages of development or as portfolio properties, are still very much in demand. However, for a few years now the inner city market has been virtually exhausted, so increasingly it is smaller towns and villages on the periphery of the Hanseatic city that have become the focus of initiators and investors. Some have by now even braved the leap beyond the city borders and thus strayed from some long-trodden paths. But many are still hesitant of taking such decisions, pondering the imponderables. which criteria can swing a vote in favour of communities on the periphery?

The accessibility and capability of the relevant local administrations for new external investors and applicants are certainly a not irrelevant consideration in any decision. Often, however, local markets are dominated by resident players who have been there for decades, are well integrated into local networks and do not necessarily make it easy for outsiders to gain a foothold in the local property market. This is not always due to a conscious or planned decision, but is rather the result of a well ingrained process developed over the years.

Founded in 1970, Norderstedt is still a very young community, an administrative conglomerate that still present itself as decidedly polycentric. Typically too, due to his history, the property market here is dominated by influential local matadors. When the prominent local retailer decides to cede his function and existing location at "Norderstedter Tor" it will take some compelling arguments to attract the sustained interest of outside investors, since initially this would be unknown territory for many.

The many-faced environmental policy agenda and constant revisions of Germany`s Renewable Energy Act are defining the property market more and more and with increasing coercion. The vision of a car-friendly city is long obsolete - water under the bridges. An efficient public transport network with customer-friendly timetables is becoming an ever more decisive advantage in the selection of locations. Communities like Reinbek, Ahrensburg or Norderstedt have good public transport connections. But a more detailed analysis also reveals that not all S Bahn lines are fully functional. The likelihood of disruptions on the S Bahn from Neugraben is almost legendary, not least because here the S Bahn rails are also used by the whole rail network to Stade. Elsewhere long planning and construction times are preventing a final decision in favour of the location. The S 4 ist currently being extended to Bad Oldesloe, but before that is complete an awful lot of water from the Elbe will flow into the North Sea.    

Lüneburg, Buxtehude and Reinbek are urban communities with a long standing identity, which is also amply demonstrated by its citizens and their myriad organisations. The town of Reinbek has a purchasing power index of 118. The good overall economic situation is also particularly characteristic of the southern Stormarn district. This district belongs to one of the most affluent regional authorities in the whole Germany. The economic prosperity is also visible just by looking at the town and the existing buildings. An ad hoc vote in favor of the location - if there are indeed  any plots and investments available.

In total contrast is the historic community of Neu Wulmstorf on the south-westerly outskirts of the city, which has seen sustained high-volume population grown which is still ongoing as a result of the large scale development zones. Simply on the basis of size, this is already a town in its own right, but its status has not yet been changed officially under local authority law, in the line with the wishes of many citizens.

Not all too long ago, the author was travelling north-east through the idyllic Lauenburg an der Elbe. How long can the distance and modest public Transport infrastructure here preserve this sleeping beauty?

Michael Witt                                                                                                                                               October 2021

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