Prewar apartment in Berlin

Buying a Altbau Apartment in Berlin

What is an “Altbau” apartment?

High ceilings, stucco detailing, wooden floorboards – prewar apartments have a special charm, evoking the romantic histories of days gone by. Not for nothing do so many prospective buyers look specifically for this type of real estate. Whether you’re buying purely as an investment or also for occupancy, buying a prewar apartment always means salvaging your own little sliver of authenticity from the past.

The city of history – and grand old buildings

When it comes to prewars, Berlin scores well ahead of other major German cities. The capital is known for its numerous well-preserved prewar buildings. According to the Federal Statistical Office, about 41 percent of all buildings in Berlin were built before 1950. In Bavaria, by comparison, it’s a mere 17 percent. So if you’re looking to buy a prewar in Berlin, you’ll find a broad range of offerings, from apartments in well-maintained urban villas to completely refurbished and modernised old gems.

Those with slightly more investment capital at their disposal may want to consider the classically elegant districts of Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf in Berlin’s so-called “old West.” This part of the city is famous for its elegant boulevards, not least Kurfürstendamm, a central promenade lined with scores of high-end restaurants, stores, and a striking number of gorgeous old buildings to boot.

(Source: Ziegert Research with data from the Federal Statistical Office)

Apartments with personality

Prewars derive their appeal from their distinctive classic elements; the magic is in the details – and in the unique interior atmospheres.

Ceilings up to three metres high, often adorned with historic stucco detailing, create a feeling of spaciousness – and plenty of room to get creative. Maybe you’d like to install an elaborate lighting concept or build in an extra level for more efficient use of space? Let your imagination run wild! The real wood floorboards are another special feature of prewar apartments; though they require a bit more care than newer flooring, classic herringbone floors are a particularly gorgeous backdrop for dignified furnishing. If you’d prefer to let the experts take care of interior design, the team at ZIEGERT’s Studio Z is happy to assist you with first-class expertise and premium products.

A home of your own – even on a budget

Those on the market for a prewar can expect a lower purchase price compared to a brand new apartment. And if you’re interested in living centrally, you can (still) find apartments at moderate prices, especially in Berlin. This is especially relevant for prospective owner-occupants with limited private capital. If you’re good with a wrench and can fix minor defects on your own, you’re particularly well-positioned to find a bargain – even on a small budget.

Buying a prewar apartment: what to consider

1. Is the apartment in good or acceptable condition?

The state of the window seals is important to consider when looking at any apartment, all the more so with prewars. Prospective buyers should also inform themselves about any extra costs that may accrue in case of future building renovations.

2. How high are the ancillary costs?

The spaciousness of prewars comes at a price, most noticeably in the form of heating costs. However, by implementing small, energy-saving measures – installing automatic thermostats, for examples, or sealing windows and insulating pipes – the careful homeowner can reduce heating costs even in a prewar, without losing too much sleep over the size of the next bill.

3. A long-term home?

When buying a prewar apartment, owner-occupiers in particular should give careful consideration to the question of accessibility. Since prewars were not built according to today’s standards, additional refurbishments might be needed as you age. But if you take this into account when buying – for example, by considering only apartments on the ground floor – you can easily avoid unanticipated obstacles in the future.

4. The renovated prewar – an ideal solution?

If you’re looking for a compromise between old and new, a renovated prewar is the ideal solution, offering all the charms of an earlier era – and all the benefits of modern installations.

Our Highlights

Lausitzer Straße

Only a few metres from the Landwehr Canal, this listed Wilhelminian style ensemble awaits you. It consists of a front building and a garden house and enchants with its beautiful stucco façade.


Hermannstraße 56/57 is growing beyond itself: The attics, which were completed in 2019, with 14 modern residential units are part of a building ensemble that was already built around 1900.

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