Duisburg: real estate auction – nobody wants these houses

Real estate in Duisburg
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The houses that nobody wants

The real estate boom in Germany has been going on for years, but in Duisburg it has not yet reached all parts of the city. Impressions from an auction in Cologne, where most of the Duisburg objects were left without a new owner.

When it came to the Duisburg properties, the lobby of the Cologne Hilton Hotel has already emptied considerably. Only twelve people are seated in the auction auditorium, where a house on the outskirts of Munich has just been auctioned for € 2.75 million. It should now be a residential and commercial building in Duisburg-Vierlinden. 763 sqm of habitable and usable surface, minimum offer 1.45 million euros. But it is not up for auction. Nobody was interested in the building in advance. The auction ends for six of Duisburg’s eight bids before it has even started. With the auctioneer’s sentence “Is there a read request here?” and as an answer a silence in the room.

Property prices are becoming more and more expensive: how are they obtained?

The real estate boom in Germany is uninterrupted. Over the past decade, house prices have continued to rise. About ten percent in the last year alone. In coveted cities like Düsseldorf, outdated properties in outlying locations are also changing hands at record prices. And in Duisburg? Since the boom has reached the southern scope. Not the north. And certainly not the awareness of Cologne investors.

Thomas Engel is a member of the board of directors of West German Property Auctions AG (WDGA). The company will hold its spring auction on a sunny Friday afternoon. The first item, a plot of land in Cologne, went for good money, says Engel at the edge of the auction. He dampens expectations for the houses and land in Duisburg. Several stakeholders withdrew again early.

Until you reach Duisburg geographically, however, things are initially pretty good in the auction room. A vacant plot of land in Wuppertal, a plot of land in the southwestern Palatinate, even a tree-lined shoulder in Emmerich find new owners. The Munich house employs two groups of bidders, each made up of three men. They push each other in steps of five thousand, with the winner holding his card with such stoic calm, as if his pain threshold has not yet been reached at 2.75 million.


    WDGA board member Thomas Engel as auctioneer in Cologne.

WDGA board member Thomas Engel as auctioneer in Cologne.
Photo: Marc Laces

When the Duisburg estates are recalled or not, there is nothing left of these groups wearing suits. Some retirees are now sitting in the hall, along with a new group of three, dressed differently from their predecessors in T-shirts and hoodies.

Apart from the property in Vierlinden, a house and a plot of land in Mittelmeiderich and six houses in Marxloh, which were spread across three auctions, did not attract interested parties. None of the properties offered from the north of Duisburg will change hands this Friday.

“The situation is not easy in Duisburg,” said Engel on Monday after the auction. “Especially for commercial real estate, banks require a very high share of equity capital.” Those interested in the buildings offered on Friday therefore decided not to bid. So it is definitely a location factor that has a negative impact on the Duisburg real estate market. Confidence in returns is a problem. It is different only with the two auction objects from the west of Duisburg. It is for private use and, according to Engel, for local bidders who “wanted something to happen there.”

The two-family house in Duisburg-Friemersheim and a nearby vacant lot are the only items on the agenda. For the house, built in 1903, there is only a minimum written offer of 250,000 euros. Nobody in the room wants to argue with that. Not even after an employee presented key data in a calm voice that he stumbled over and over again. Instead, it follows a real war of tenders for the neighboring property of about 2,500 square meters. The reason: Unlike many other areas offered during the day, the lawn covered with trees and bushes is intended for residential construction. So there may soon be one or more garden houses here.

Not only are hoodie investors interested in this, but two other men in the room as well, one of whom is frantically on the phone. A fourth bidder is also connected by telephone to one of the WDGA staff. The initial offer of € 125,000 rises in steps of € 2,000. When the amount approaches € 200,000, only the small group and an older man are in the room. The three men continued to watch him, becoming more and more restless. Then they go out. The property goes to the man for 212,000 euros.

As the losers leave the room, one of them asks for the name of the bidder and if it is the same one who bought the house next door. “Maybe”, the man replies. Then an employee comes to congratulate him on the purchase of the house. So who should be registered as an owner? It’s not clear yet, the man says. He really bought the house and property at the auction and now he has to clarify with his daughters what should belong to whom.

Engel still has hope for unsold items. These remained in the “after sales” for another two months and can still be purchased for the minimum bid. With the exception of one case, Engel says, all Duisburg properties have found a buyer in the past.

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