“Wealthy Chinese buy European castles online”, German news television recently reported that under the raging new crown pneumonia epidemic, European castles were sold at a price cut, attracting many wealthy Chinese investors. Hollerys, a real estate economist at the University of Frankfurt in Germany, told that many European clan castles have “no successors” and high maintenance costs. Therefore, they hope to sell them to the Chinese so that the castles can be “refreshed”.
According to estimates by the German Castle Association, there are about 25,000 castles in Germany, of which two-thirds are in disrepair, and about 5,000 are suitable for sale. Similarly, there are a total of about 20,000 castles in France, and thousands of them are suitable for sale. There are also many castles for sale in Britain, Switzerland, Italy and other countries. Hollerith said that there are many ways to buy a castle in Europe. One is through various intermediary agencies. Many real estate agencies in Germany, Britain, France and other countries can provide this service. The second is through auctions. For example, Sotheby’s International Real Estate Company has held many castle auctions. The third is through real estate websites, such as immowelt in Germany.
There are three main types of European castles that Chinese rich people like to buy:
First, a well-known castle with a long history. For example, the oldest part of Ramholz Castle in Hessen, Germany, purchased by a famous Shanghai businessman a few years ago, dates back to 1500 years ago, and was rebuilt by the German steel family Sturm in the late 19th century. It is said that the price of the castle is around 8 million euros. “This type of castle is often recognized as a local cultural protection building because of its long history. If it is to be converted into a commercial building, it will be more difficult.” Germany’s Munich castle intermediary consultant Bright told.
Second, a castle with farms such as vineyards. Most of these castles are located in wine-producing areas in France, Italy, and Germany, and usually have facilities such as wine cellars, gyms, swimming pools, and cinemas. The conversion of these castles into resort hotels is also very suitable. 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 local beauty for one-day or two-day tours.
Third, ordinary castles. Although there are more such castles in Europe, the shortcomings are also obvious-either dilapidated, short in history, or small in scale. However, Bright said that compared with the first and second types of castles, which often sell 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 rebuild it. For example, it can be rented out to commercial establishments such as restaurants, or converted into a holiday home, rented out to other families, or live by itself. There are also many real estate companies in Europe that can help take care of it.
“Investing in European castles can not only achieve capital appreciation, but also obtain operating income through leasing and other projects. The cultural uniqueness of the castle makes its resale value also considerable.” Hollerith said that recently, a person originally bought a German map. A Chinese businessman in a castle in Lingen, reselling the castle because of the cancellation of the hotel reconstruction project, the price was three times the original price. However, before buying a European castle, you also need to understand various precautions.
First of all, maintenance costs are “the top priority”. The monthly maintenance cost of a typical castle requires thousands of Euros, and some even tens of thousands of Euros. If the castle falls into disrepair for a long time, hundreds of thousands or even tens of millions of euros will be needed to repair it. In 2018, German Prince Ernst August V of Hanover announced the sale of Marienburg Castle, one of the world’s largest castles in Lower Saxony, for a symbolic price of 1 Euro (pictured). “I can’t continue to bear the maintenance cost of the palace,” Auguste V once admitted at the time. It is reported that the maintenance costs that buyers need to pay are estimated to be around 30 million euros.
Secondly, various cultural regulations must be observed. Many castles with a long history are local protection objects, so investors should look at the “face” of the local cultural relics protection agency after buying the castle. A Chinese businessman who bought the castle told, “Even if you only paint a wooden door, you still need to consult an expert. This immediately raises the cost.” If the investor wants to rebuild the castle , We must absolutely abide by the construction law. For example, it is not allowed to build racecourses in castles in nature reserves.
Sometimes, the purchase of a castle must 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 teaching building and student dormitory for an international private school. As a result, this project was rejected by the parliament. The reason is that locals believe that international schools are elite institutions that do not benefit the local community.
In addition, private castles in European countries are often located in rural areas, built on mountains or hills, and far away from cities, train stations and other amenities. This is also an issue that Chinese investors must consider.