Chinese rich people buy European castles online, German Press TV recently reported that the new crown pneumonia epidemic rampant, the old European castles for sale at reduced prices, attracting many rich Chinese investors. The German University of Frankfurt real estate economist Hollerith told reporters that many European families have no one to succeed their castles and the high cost of maintenance, so they hope to sell out to the Chinese to give the castles a second life.
Image from: Global Times
The German Castle Association estimates that there are about 25,000 castles in Germany, of which 2/3 are in disrepair and about 5,000 are suitable for sale. Similarly, France has a total of about 20,000 castles, with thousands suitable for sale. There are also many castles for sale in England, Switzerland, Italy and other countries. Hollerith said, in Europe to buy a castle, you can go through a variety of ways. One is through a variety of intermediaries, Germany, Britain, France and other countries, many real estate agencies can provide this service. Second is through the auction, such as Sotheby"s International Realty and other companies have held a number of castle auctions. The third is through real estate websites, such as immowelt in Germany, etc.
This reporter learned from a number of European castle agents that there are three main categories of European castles that rich Chinese people like to buy.
The first is a well-known castle with a long history. For example, the Ramholz Castle in Hesse, Germany, purchased by a famous Shanghai businessman a few years ago, has the oldest part dating back to 1500 years ago and was built again in the late 19th century by the German steel family Sturm. The castle is said to have been sold for around 8 million euros. Such castles are often recognized as local cultural protection buildings because of their long history. It would be more difficult to convert it into a commercial building. Brett, a consultant for a castle agency in Munich, Germany, told reporters.
Second, castles with vineyards and other farmsteads. Most of these castles are located in the wine regions of France, Italy and Germany, and usually come with facilities such as wine cellars, gyms, swimming pools and cinemas. It is also very suitable to convert these castles into resort hotels. In addition to allowing guests to taste a variety of wines and unique local cuisine, the hotel can also organize wine tours, combining the vineyards with the beauty of the region for day or two-day programs.
Third, ordinary castles. Although there are more castles of this type in Europe, but the disadvantages are also more obvious either dilapidated, or shorter history, or smaller scale. However, Brett said, compared with the first and second category of castles can be sold for millions, or even tens of millions of euros, most of these castles can be bought for hundreds of thousands or even tens of thousands of euros. Moreover, due to the low historical and cultural value, investors have more freedom to make alterations to them. For example, they can be rented out to commercial organizations such as restaurants, or converted into vacation homes and rented to other families, or they can live there themselves, and there are many real estate companies in Europe that can help take care of them.
Investing in European castles not only allows for capital appreciation, but also for operating income through programs such as leasing. The cultural uniqueness of castles also makes their resale value more significant. Recently, a Chinese businessman who had bought a castle in Thuringia, Germany, resold it for three times the original price because a hotel conversion project was cancelled, Hollerith said. However, there are various considerations to be aware of before buying a European castle.
First of all, the cost of maintenance is a top priority. The average castle costs thousands of euros per month to maintain, and in some cases tens of thousands of euros. If the castle falls into disrepair, it also requires hundreds of thousands or even tens of millions of euros to repair. 2018, Germany's Prince Ernst August V of Hanover had announced the sale of Marienburg Castle (pictured), located in Lower Saxony and one of the largest castles in the world, for a symbolic price of 1 euro. I can no longer afford the maintenance of the palace, August V had confessed at the time. It is reported that the buyer will need to pay the maintenance costs are estimated at around 30 million euros.
Second, various cultural regulations must be observed. Many castles with a long history are protected locally, so investors have to look at the local heritage protection agency after buying a castle. A Chinese businessman who bought a castle told a reporter that even if you paint just one wooden door, you need to consult an expert. This instantly raises the cost. If investors want to make alterations to the castle, they must absolutely comply with the building law. For example, it is not allowed to build a racetrack in a castle in a nature reserve, etc.
Sometimes, the purchase of a castle must also be approved by the local council. Last year, a Chinese businessman wanted to buy a large castle in Baden-Württemberg to be used as a school building and student dormitory for an international private school. As a result, the project was rejected by the council. The reason was that locals believed that international schools were elite institutions that would not benefit the local community.
In addition, privately owned castles in European countries are often in rural areas, built on mountains or hills, and far from cities, train stations and other amenities. This is also something that Chinese investors must consider.