Groß, C., K. Göbler & G. G. WagnerCorona pandemic: Also a stress test for the housing market

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Christian Groß, Konstantin Göbler & Gert G. Wagner

Release date:
May 2020

German advisory council for consumer affairs, Berlin

Due to the significant increase in short-time work and unemployment, tenants and owners of residential real estate can quickly get into financial difficulties. After all, housing costs, i.e. fixed rent payments (for tenants) or interest and principal payments (for owners) as well as ancillary costs such as electricity and heating, make up by far the highest – and even increasing in times of crisis – share of monthly household expenses. Those 10 million households that have no financial reserves suffer particularly from the consequences of short-time work and unemployment.

The results of the study show that tenant households without reserves are financially overloaded by housing costs from a loss of household income of 100 Euros per month or even heavily overloaded from a loss of 400 Euros. Owner households without reserves are also affected: There is an overload from a loss of 450 Euros. Even those tenant households that have financial reserves are overburdened from a loss of 400 Euros. Households in large cities as well as in smaller cities and communities are equally threatened as a result. It is not yet foreseeable how many of the households will end up in an overload situation due to the consequences of the Corona crisis.

In view of less optimistic macroeconomic forecasts, a rapid recovery in the financial situation of households cannot be expected. Since a housing cost overload that lasts for several months is often a source of household indebtedness and over-indebtedness, the Geman federal government should keep an eye on this development and, if necessary, consider further suitable measures to protect tenants and owners.

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