Home & Living

Steady Decline in Flats in Detached and Semi-Detached Homes


March 2021

Germany’s residential property market is booming, despite the coronavirus crisis, and this hardly qualifies as news anymore. Yet the building activity keeps trailing demand, and the fact is reflected conspicuously in the percentage of dwellings in detached and semi-detached homes. This was confirmed by a recent analysis done by the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis), which shows that the new-build construction of detached and semi-detached houses is stagnating, and with it the number of flats completed in this housing format. The share of flats in multi-dwelling units, by contrast, has bounced back again lately, and visibly so. The analysis suggests that, out of a total of around 288,000 flats that were approved between January and November 2020, a share of 59 percent or 169,000 residential units are planned to take the form of multi-dwelling units, compared to 109,000 flats approved in the form of detached and semi-detached homes (38 percent). Halls of residence account for the remaining share of planning consents. (source: www.destatis.de)

The sum of 256,000 flats completed in detached and semi-detached homes the previous year still accounted for 40 percent of the total. But in previous years, the number of flats in detached and semi-detached homes has already been in decline compared to multi-dwelling units since 2005. As a result, the share of flats completed in detached and semi-detached homes returned to the level of 1997 as early 2015. The latest figures have now reconfirmed the downward trend.

Fascinating Parallel Trend

Parallel to the pro-rata drop in the number of flats in detached and semi-detached homes, the average dwelling floor area in single-family home has increased more or less in reverse proportion compared to that of multi-dwelling units. Around 143,000 new flats in 14,400 multi-dwelling units completed in 2019 provided an average dwelling floor area of 78 square metres. By contrast, flats in newly built single-family homes were almost twice as large: The average dwelling floor area of the roughly 83,800 single-family homes was 152 square metres. In single-family detached homes, the footprint was even a bit larger at 157 square metres.

So, while the homes built in 2019 were less than half the number completed in 1999 (178,000), they provided about 14 percent more space than those completed 20 years earlier. Flats in multi-dwelling units are only about seven percent larger than the 1999 average, whereas the comparative increase in single-family homes equals 16 percent. In a parallel development, the number of flats in multi-dwelling units decreased by around 15 percent since 1999, a fact that appears to indicate larger flat sizes.

Residential Land Makes up One Third of the Total Developed Land

Residential land accounted for around one third (27.7 percent) of the total settlement and transport area of German municipalities in 2019. However, the differences between urban and rural areas were significant: While residential use accounted for 31.9 percent of the land in major independent cities, it made up less than a quarter (22.6 percent) in sparsely populated rural districts. The remaining two thirds of the land were occupied by public institutions, industry and commerce, as well as recreational facilities and traffic routes.

Single-family Homes Dominate Stock

Although the building activity in the segment of single-family homes has declined, they continue to dominate the overall stock: Two out of three residential buildings (66.67 percent) represented single-family homes in 2019. When you add semi-detached homes, their combined share of the total actually goes up to 83 percent. Since single-family detached homes require more land, their share in the major cities is well below the nationwide average. It is lowest in Stuttgart with 35.4 percent and 40.1 percent each in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt am Main and Gelsenkirchen, the cities with the second-lowest share. The highest share in single-family detached homes was reported from the districts of Aurich (86.1 percent) and Leer (85.9 percent) in North-West Germany, followed by Dithmarschen in western Schleswig-Holstein.

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