Rural Germany has frequently been overlooked by investors and home buyers in favour of the more fashionable locations of France and Italy; however, buyers are increasingly waking up to the advantages of the stunning countryside and traditional communities in the heart of Europe, where prices are still significantly lower than equivalent properties elsewhere in the continent, or indeed in Germany’s major cities.
One such region is the Mosel Valley, which stretches for 190km between Trier, close to the Luxembourg border, and Koblenz, where the Mosel joins the Rhine. Despite many attractive properties set among gorgeous forests and hills, and along the winding river itself, the Mosel Valley remains surprisingly inexpensive. This is largely because many of its small towns and villages are remote from major cities; however, this peaceful isolation can also be the area’s appeal, particularly to second-home buyers or those in the market for buy-to-let properties.
On a global scale, however, the valley is not that difficult to reach, and for this reason it is attracting increasing numbers of British and Irish buyers, according to Brigitte Kunkel-Griffin of local estate agency German Property Services. ‘Low-cost flights from Frankfurt-Hahn airport to the UK and Ireland, and the fact that much of the Mosel Valley is about five hours’ drive from Calais, means that the area is relatively accessible,’ she says.
Cheaper than the cities
Frankfurt-Hahn airport is actually much closer to the Hunsruck plateau, just south of the Mosel, than it is to Frankfurt. A four-bedroom house in the region, with riverside views, a gym and a sauna, can be acquired for €740,000 (£525,000). Homes in the area average around €1,500 (£1,064) per square metre, while in the relatively costly resort town of Bernkastel-Kues new apartments generally go for about €2,485 (£1,762) per square metre. This is still distinctly cheaper than the €4,578 (£3,247) per square metre that is the norm in Frankfurt.
The Mosel Valley is famous for its Riesling vineyards. While prices are climbing rapidly in Germany’s major cities, in rural areas prices are often falling as populations diminish; however, the value of owner-occupied homes across Germany as a whole grew by 5% on average in the first quarter of 2015, according to the Association of German Pfandbrief Banks.
At the upper end of the scale there are also luxury properties to be found in the Mosel Valley. In the university city of Trier, which has a population of roughly 100,000, a three-storey, early 19th century house with conservatory and guest cottage, recently renovated with 383 square metres of living space, was recently on the market for €2.3m (£1.6m). Prices here are boosted by the city’s proximity to wealthy Luxembourg, although more affordable properties are available.
In the central part of the Mosel Valley prices rarely exceed €1m (£0.71m); however, Koblenz at the valley’s north-western end has rail and motorway access to Cologne, Bonn and Frankfurt, and property values reflect this, often exceeding €1m for larger homes.
Estate agents’ fees are commonly 3.57%, paid by both seller and buyer, and property transfer tax in Rhineland-Palatinate is 5%.