The couple couldn't find as good an investment opportunity in Italy and they say Germany's rising rents and home prices make it a safer place to get a return on their money.
Within a day, the married couple with two kids fell in love with an apartment in their €150,000 price range in Berlin's trendiest neighborhood, Prenzlauer Berg.
Bricconi and Mosca say the apartment in Berlin will not be just financial investment. They'll rent it as a holiday apartment, use it themselves when they are in the capital for the annual Berlinale film festival or just on vacation or let their kids — now 4 and 7 — use it if they go to university in Berlin. They can even see themselves ending up in the city full time.
Ziegert Bank and Real Estate Consulting, one of Berlin's largest real estate agents, says that more than one in six of its clients this year have been from outside Germany. Last year, it was roughly one in ten.
Another reason for the increasing interest in Germany's real estate is its economy, which has continued to grow — albeit at a slow rate — despite the financial crisis wracking the other 16 European Union countries that use the euro. The Berlin government currently expects 0.8 percent growth this year and 1 percent in 2013.
To help Italians, like Bricconi and Mosca, to find properties in Berlin, Ruth Stirati has set up a website, Case a Berlino. She says the renewed interest in German property from her clients coincided with the European financial problems. Clients were worried that a financial crisis at home would wipe out their savings, she said.
"They thought we are going to end like Argentina they are going to close our bank accounts, they are going to take our money, so my clients started panicking."
Adding to the property market's stability is the tradition for Germans to pay large parts of the sales price with savings, rather than high-interest loans.
German banks normally demand a deposit worth 20 percent of the property's value. A typical mortgage has its rate fixed for 10 years, after which time the homeowner agrees another rate for a new term. Thirty-year mortgages are not uncommon.
These factors mean that German homebuyers are less at risk of finding themselves unable to repay their mortgages in bad times. Fewer repossessions and foreclosures, in turn, help avoid sharp drops in housing prices.
Berlin is among Germany's most attractive real estate markets — especially for foreigners looking for mid-range investments. Average apartment prices are at about €2,000 per square meter as compared with Munich's €3,300. By comparison, apartments in Paris fetch between €6,000 and €12,000 a square meter, depending upon the neighborhood, and properties in some prime London neighborhoods cost as much as €17,775 a square meter.
The reason for the big price difference, says the University of Regensburg's Sebastian, is that other European countries' economies are focused on one or two cities — which draws people there and helps keep real estate prices up — Germany's is dispersed over many cities.
"Foreigners have come in waves to the German housing market, and they keep telling us the prices in Germany are undervalued, especially in Berlin, but they always misunderstand that Germany is not the same market as any other European country," he said.
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