Real Options of Private House Owners in the East German Housing Market – How Demolition Subsidies Affect Investment Prospects for Private House Owners
The subsidies of the German urban renewal program “Stadtumbau Ost” are claimed mainly by communal and cooperative housing companies. The instruments do not fit very well for private proprietors that hold a great part of the older housing stock in central locations, for example in Wilhelminian style districts. Interim evaluation reports concerning the implementation of the “Stadtumbau” program show good results for big housing blocks, but constantly high vacancy rates in the inner city quarters. It becomes obvious that the political targets have not been achieved completely so far and that market forces limit the extensive restoration of historic buildings. The opportunities, economic incentives and the decisions of landlords and house owners will be analyzed with a real option approach. A detailed view considers the different available forms of subsidies, examining its power to affect real estate values and to initiate politically desired urban transformations. It can be shown that the current forms of subsidies fail to promote investment of private house owners because of rising value expectations. Downgrading the building zones to lower density might reduce unrealistic expectations that were identified as a hurdle to invest. As a consequence from this consideration, municipalities should implement alternative urban development concepts and adjust the subsidy policy.