This Altbau-style apartment building on a sleepy Berlin street may seem typical, but there’s more than meets the eye in surrounding Schöneberg.
David Bowie knew it – he lived just a few streets away while recording the now legendary Berlin Trilogy – as have fellow artists and actors from Iggy Pop to Marlene Dietrich. The district has also served the city’s LGBT community with bars and nightclubs since the early 1920s, and today finds itself perfectly sandwiched between affluent Charlottenburg and hip, up-and-coming Kreuzberg.
Built in 1914, these apartments on Hohenfriedbergstrasse are well located next to shops, cafes and green space. A short walk away is Rathaus Schöneberg, the town hall where President Kennedy gave his famous “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech, not to mention U-bahn and S-bahn stations that connect to the rest of the city.
As is common in Berlin, the building was quite rundown when we took over in 2008, but it’s since been modernised and gradually brought in line with London standards.
What we did
When we found the building on Hohenfriedbergstrasse we knew there was work to be done. It was clear this old townhouse had been neglected over the years and the flats and common spaces would need to be updated.
Since getting involved we’ve taken over management of the building, making sure rent payments are regularised and up-to-date for all tenants. We’ve also modernised all of the common areas and hallways, and we’ll continue to refurbish flats as they become vacant. This process is ongoing, but by adding value to the property we’ve ensured a 100% occupancy rate and a 200% potential capital gain for our clients.
How we did it
The building was offered to us by an agent in late 2008. Our first impressions were that it was very run down, but it also had great potential considering the price. We’d gone to Berlin under the remit of finding property for our clients and this was a great fit.
After deciding on the building’s worth, we arranged finance and exchanged contacts in the middle of 2009.
Many tenants were in arrears with rent and had not paid service charge for two years. We set about regularizing this, and we decided to write off some of the service charge arrears to smooth the process.
Redecoration began, continuing as and when new flats in the building became vacant.
The common areas were completely refurbished by 2011, and we’re now on a rolling program to improve the building which will end when we decorate the exterior before looking for a buyer.
As well as ongoing renovation work, we continue to manage the property and let out apartments as they become available.
Despite the state of the building when we bought it, we felt the market and location in Schöneberg offered a great opportunity for investors. By taking on the responsibility of updating and managing the building we’ve been able to help it live up to its potential. leaving investors to reap the rewards of increased value.
The building is now worth more than double what we paid for it back in 2008. Plus, the renovated interior coupled with Berlin’s strong rent culture should ensure a comfortable rental income for a future owner.