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Nineteen motley real estate ideas in times of COVID-19 Part V: Housing and flats

by Peter Fassl & Helmut Seitz

The title of today’s column should in fact be “Part V: Idea XV”. Today we would like to outline a few ideas in connection with housing and flats.

In urban areas, it was especially singles and the elderly that felt a further intensification of the already great isolation. On the other hand, multi-person households experienced exactly the opposite, namely being crowded together, and the lack of free space led to great diffculties. Studies have already shown that both phenomena can lead to severe depression among those affected. How can this be counteracted?

In principle, the easiest way is to live in a flat that offers at least some form of “al fresco”, be it a small French balcony, a loggia or, depending on the budget, a terrace or a private garden. In addition, other shared spaces are also conceivable, such as creating urban gardening in a shared courtyard or on a roof top that is accessible to all.

Since governments currently intervene with unbelievable brutality in people’s civil rights and liberties (which seem to only exist in theory), one could also consider the development of residential properties that are “lock-down-safe” in that they offer the possibility of getting out into the fresh air, moving around, supplying oneself with fresh garden produce and still ensuring a secure and suffciently dimensioned access space for all possible types of suppliers (parcels, food, information) by means of special technical equipment. Furthermore, a house that is “lock-down-safe” would also need rooms in which one could withdraw from all and everyone from time to time. In this scenario, the so heavily advertised home offce could actually work, ensuring both the “home” part of relaxing and retreating, and the “offce” part of working undisturbed, especially when children or partners are around.

This would include, on the one hand, appropriately dimensioned broadband solutions for data traffc and, on the other hand, rooms for the transfer of goods of all kinds that can be accessed “contactlessly” from both sides. Fitness rooms would have to be relocated outdoors where climatically possible, and where this is not possible, appropriate disinfection facilities would have to be provided. UV-B and UV C light-based cleaning systems do not require separate (expensive) ventilation. They only cost a few hundred euros for a typical large hobby room with a table tennis table.

On the Austrian real estate market, we noticed that after the first lockdown in spring last year, flats without balconies or similar (semi) outdoor facilities became almost unsaleable. Meanwhile, the demand for flats with some kind of open-air goodie continued unabated. For the past few years, the absolute budget that a family can spend on housing has been stagnating, but the prices per square metre have been rising enormously. Therefore, flats in general, at least in the DACH region, are becoming smaller and smaller. In essence, one would therefore have to use every additional room or even every additional (also vertical!) surface in architecture for those other purposes mentioned. We could imagine a climbing wall on a house façade or a rope system that enables vertical gardening. All these investments actually cost comparatively little and yet create unique sales propositions and thus real added value and sustainability in the utilisation of the respective property.

As always, we are grateful for your feedback and suggestions on these ideas. In the next and last part of our 19 randomly selected ideas, we are going to look at areas of “Hospitality” and “Special Purpose Properties”. We wish you a relaxing COVID-19-free summer.

Photo: ArTo -


05 August 2021

HSP Rechtsanwälte GmbH