Several thousand people contact Vonovia, Germany’s largest housing provider, every day to describe their desperation when looking for an apartment. That wouldn’t have to be the case, says Vonovia boss Rolf Buch – if the traffic light would address the issue “much more courageously”.

The headlines belong to the wars in the Middle East and Ukraine – and to the apocalypticists who are assertive in the media: climate catastrophe! Social division! Global mass exodus!

The silent but no less dramatic development on the German housing market rarely makes it into the focus of attention. This crisis has no glitter factor and therefore no what Americans call “star power”.

Almost unnoticed by the public, a cornerstone of our society is eroding and the Federal Republic’s central promise is being declared invalid: affordable housing for everyone and the middle class’s realistic chance of owning their own home. !function(){var t=window.addEventListener?”addEventListener”:”attachEvent”;(0,window[t])(“attachEvent”==t?”onmessage”:”message”,function(t){if (“string”==typeof

This week’s general meeting of Vonovia – Germany’s largest landlord with around 483,000 apartments in the Federal Republic – threw the spotlight for a few hours on a situation that is unacceptable for one of the richest countries in the world.

His company, said CEO Rolf Buch, is contacted “every day by hundreds, on some days by thousands” of people who are desperately looking for an apartment.

Housing shortages increase inequality and play into the hands of populist parties, says Buch. The CEO was clearer than clear: “I don’t understand why our entire government isn’t tackling this issue much more courageously. “

Because with new construction activity stagnating, the influx to Germany continues unabated. Without further action from politicians, the problem will worsen on its own.

• There will be a shortage of up to 830,000 apartments in Germany by 2027, according to estimates by the Central Real Estate Committee.

• In his forecasts, Rolf Buch expects the resident population in Germany to grow from today’s 84 million to 86 million people – for whom there is no corresponding supply of housing.

So there are many good reasons for Olaf Scholz and his Construction Minister Klara Geywitz to enter the reform construction site. These six points would massively help the housing market and thus the government’s reputation:

Building in Germany has become complicated. While there were around 5,000 building regulations in our country in 1990, today there are around 20,000. The state wants to realize itself in construction policy.

A radical debureaucratization of the construction industry is therefore necessary, which essentially must also mean a depoliticization of construction.

There is no other way than for the state to invite investors to invest and thus grant them space, give them creative freedom and allow capitalist returns, i.e. appropriate interest on their investments.

The state is setting ever higher demands, especially for environmental protection and energy efficiency. In a February report, the Central Real Estate Committee estimates the share of government-related costs in the sales price of an apartment building at almost 40 percent.

ZIA boss Andreas Mattner said: “This is exactly where the levers are if a turnaround in the German housing market is to be realistic. “

With its well-intentioned interventions in the free housing market, the state has not made it fairer and more ecological, but has destroyed it. The word of the hour is overregulation. Tim-Oliver Müller, General Manager of the Main Association of the German Construction Industry: “Politicians have to decide: Do they want to regulate themselves in detail or build apartments efficiently? “

Interest rate policy plays an important role in housing construction. Rolf Buch says:

ECB President Mario Draghi’s “whatever it takes” was not a stroke of luck, as was recently said at the ECB’s anniversary celebration, but a mistake of the century. That’s why combating inflation, including by adhering to the debt brake, is an important prerequisite for restructuring the construction industry.

Instead of further expanding the welfare state with citizens’ benefits and basic child benefits, the most effective social policy would be a state housing subsidy program. Because without such an impulse, the construction industry in Germany will collapse.

40 percent of construction companies complain about a lack of orders. Experts report that one in ten construction companies is already experiencing financing difficulties.

“There is enough building land in Germany. “As much as the size of Berlin or 140,000 football fields,” said Construction Minister Klara Geywitz around two years ago.

That’s correct. The problem, however, is that the lack of good transport connections to the peripheral areas causes increased demand in metropolitan areas, and that is exactly where the apartments are missing.

The solution? Christian Ulbrich – CEO of the real estate consultancy JLL – gives an argument: “You will no longer be able to afford affordable housing in urban areas. That means: You have to expand the access area through excellent public transport.”

The Federal Statistical Office provides evidence for this claim: According to this, in 2022 – this is the most current data from Wiesbaden – the fewer people living in a household, the larger the available area per capita.

People living alone (that’s around 40 percent of all households in Germany) had an average of 73.4 square meters available in 2022. For comparison: the per capita living space in a four-person household is only around 30 square meters.

A recent query from Sahra Wagenknecht to the Federal Statistical Office shows: 11.3 percent of the German population – more than one in ten – live in an overcrowded apartment. And many older people who, for good reasons, do not dare to switch to the unregulated part of the market live comparatively generously.

Conclusion: The German housing market, which is no longer a real market, shows all the characteristics of dysfunctionality. The good news: This crisis is man-made and can be managed within the borders of the nation state. If the traffic light coalition stops self-employment, it could get to work.

Germany is now only the export winner when it comes to Black Forest cake. Foreign observers have written off the German economy for the time being. They are amazed at the comfort and lack of work of the people, who they had originally considered to be particularly hardworking.

The ESC is a celebration of life and tolerance. But the truth is that the tolerance of the ESC community ends when it comes to Israel. This means that these supposedly cosmopolitan people are missing out on a great opportunity.