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Growing international demand for heritage estates in northern Germany

Thursday, February 26th, 2015 at 12:26pm Engel Völkers

• Buyer interest from Western and Eastern Europe, the Arab world and China

• Historic Altfresenburg manor house is now up for sale

Hamburg. As real estate remains in high demand as a stable asset class, investors are now increasingly turning their attention to castles, farm and manor houses as well as country estates. Properties in a good to very good condition, preferably on a large plot of land, are proving especially popular. Other desirable amenities include private hunting and water rights, as well as forestry and agricultural land. Around 80 percent of buyers of such estates are still German nationals. Christoph von Schenck, Head of the business segment Castles & Manor Houses at Engel & Völkers, is witnessing a clear trend however: “The number of interested buyers from abroad is growing rapidly. In addition to enquiries from Western Europe, the former GUS nations and the Arab states, we are increasingly registering buyer requests from China. In many cases, buyers from abroad already have a residence or business premises in Germany.” Alongside the desire to invest in Germany for reasons of political and economic stability, Christoph von Schenck sees this high level of international demand as a sign of commitment to the preservation of cultural and historical values. “Properties with a valuable heritage that are also located within close reach of a major city are proving particularly desirable – both with German and foreign interested buyers. We are registering a very strong level of demand in northern Germany, for example in the region surrounding Hamburg,” said Christoph von Schenck. A number of historic estates have come onto the market in recent years in the German states of Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the northern part of Lower Saxony. Therefore, although the level of demand is high, Christoph von Schenck remains optimistic that prospective buyers have good chances of fulfilling any desire to buy in northern Germany.

A valuable heritage site: Altfresenburg manor house

In the county of Stormarn, for example, only around 45 minutes’ drive north of Hamburg’s city centre, Altfresenburg manor house is currently for sale. In 1791, the landowner Hugo von Buchwaldt, a descendent of the Holstein region’s ancient nobility, had the house built near Oldesloe as the family seat by Christian Frederik Hansen. The property is regarded as the last remaining mansion to be preserved in its original state as designed by the Danish architect, who is arguably the most influential proponent of Classicism in northern Europe. In addition to Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen and other archetypal buildings, some of the finest classical-style private residences on Hamburg’s Palmaille and the legendary Elbschaussee were also designed on Hansen’s drawing board. Altfresenburg manor house dates back more than 200 years and stands as testimony to the unostentatious architectural style so typical for Hansen. Inside however, it is endowed with stucco ornamentation preserved in its entirety, as well as elaborate supra-portals and decorative pilasters. “This is very rarely found nowadays, and makes the property as valuable as an antiquity,” said Christoph von Schenck. The particular level of international interest and admiration still enjoyed by Hansen to this day becomes apparent every time a property designed by him comes onto the market. Significant buyer interest emerged as soon as Altfresenburg manor house in SchleswigHolstein appeared in Engel & Völkers’ property portfolio – not only from Germany but on an international scale as well.

Historical properties open up a variety of potential uses

Motivations for acquiring an historic estate like Altfresenburg are as varied as the prospective buyers themselves. Investors and project developers seek out properties with historic flair specifically for commercial purposes. These include usages such as prestigious company premises, restaurants, hotels, conference and seminar centres, as well as the creation of impressive event venues or conversion into outstanding holiday apartments. However, Christoph von Schenck is also well aware of the motives of private individuals who are perhaps fulfilling a lifelong dream with the purchase of such a property. “Many clients have a particularly strong sense of tradition. They recognise the opportunity that an historical estate presents to acquire an ostensive piece of history. They might also be inspired by the opportunity arising of leading the mythical life of the lord of the manor, as in bygone eras. There are cases where such a vision has certainly become a reality,” said the heritage expert.

Differentiations in the price structure

Significant variations can be identified in the value of historic properties. In addition to the state of repair, it is location – as with all other properties – that constitutes the most important valuation factor. Castles and manor houses that lie within the catchment area of large cities are more likely to find a buyer more easily than estates located in rural regions. Sale prices vary according to the various assessment criteria. Castles in Germany in a very good state of preservation can easily achieve sales prices of up to 20 million euros. Due to the fact that many such estates are listed for their special historic interest, capital investors and private owners alike can profit from tax deduction allowances through funding set aside for monument preservation. Beyond this economic benefit, Christoph von Schenck has identified a non-material motivation associated with the commitments of estate holders: “Maintaining a listed property is always a cultural and historical undertaking as well, placing it in the public interest as a result. Many of the new custodians find modernisation of the heritage property entrusted to them, by proper means and methods, to be an exceedingly appealing and satisfying challenge.”

(Source: Engel & Völkers/ Arnt Haug)
1. Altfresenburg manor house on the outskirts of Hamburg is built in a symmetrical, grand design typical for the style of its Danish architect C. F. Hansen. The country estate has a two-storey interior spanning some 1,000 square metres. It is currently on sale for 1.2 million euros.
2. Inside, the impressive country home exudes a less modest style. Hansen has managed to bring about an incredible union of Italian Renaissance influences and rationalist Classicism. Elaborate stucco ornamentation reveals the philosophy of the master builder.
3. Additionally, the estate encompasses approximately 8.423 square metres of land.

Additional information about the Altfresenburg estate can be found here: Online property exposé: Video:

For further information please contact:
ENGEL & VÖLKERS AG Princess Bettina Wittgenstein Head of Global Corporate Communication Stadthausbrücke 5 20355 Hamburg Germany Phone: +49 40-36 13 11 20 Fax: +49 40-36 13 12 35

About Engel & Völkers:

Engel & Völkers is one of the world’s leading service companies specialised in the sale and rental of premium residential property, commercial real estate and yachts. With its licence system, Engel & Völkers is the only Germany-based firm to rank amongst the top 100 franchise companies in the world.* Around 550 residential property shops specialised in high-class real estate and 65 commercial offices brokering office, retail and industrial space, investment properties, multi-purpose apartment and office blocks and property portfolios offer both private and institutional clients a professionally tailored range of services. Leasing, sales, consultancy and valuations form the core competences of the staff of around 5,500 employees. The Company is currently operating in 38 countries on five continents. Intensive training schemes in its in-house real estate Academy and the high level of quality assurance governing its systematically structured service provision are key factors that account for the Company’s success. In 2014, Engel & Völkers was named “Top National Employer” by the German news magazine “Focus”. In the same year, the company achieved the top position in the broker ranking lists published by both the German Customer Institute (DKI) and the financial magazine “Euro am Sonntag”. Moreover, Engel & Völkers is the winner in the category “Best Company Brand” at the “Marken Awards der Immobilienbranche” (“Property Industry Brand Awards”) hosted by the ImmobilienScout24. * Source: Franchise Direct “Top 100 Global Franchises Ranking 2011”

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