The disappointment in the hall was unmistakable. “The Vice Chancellor sends his warmest regards,” announced the moderator on stage, “but unfortunately he cannot make it to us today because of President Selenskyi’s state visit.” The reaction of the audience, all of whom were participants in the “Day of the Real Estate Industry” in Berlin’s Tempodrom, gave an idea of ​​how welcome they would have been to receive an assessment of the political situation after the EU elections in general and of the real estate industry in particular from the Green Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate.

This is all the more true as one of the previous speakers at the annual event of the Central Real Estate Committee (ZIA), the leading association of the real estate industry, was his cabinet colleague Christian Lindner. He gave his assessment of the situation in the republic and immediately focused on the issue that has moved to the center of the debate with renewed force after the European elections, which were disastrous for the traffic light government: how to deal with the debt brake.

Where Lindner is holding back – including in his appearance before the real estate industry – the Greens and SPD are likely to demand even more money as a consequence of the voters’ punishment. For the existing challenges, of course, but now also for other social benefits with which, in their view, the country can be pacified. An appearance by Habeck would have been interesting. But one thing is clear: the Tempodrom would not have been a home stadium for him that day anyway.

Lindner, on the other hand, was clearly at ease in the company of entrepreneurs, was in a joking mood and was able to skilfully package his messages in a speech that also addressed the specific problems within the real estate industry. “Markets must be made functional again through entrepreneurial action,” he demanded.

The industry needs lower interest rates, but it is simply not financially viable to subsidize the rates. In order to slow down inflation, which made the abrupt countermeasures by the central banks on the interest rate front necessary, a stability-oriented financial policy is needed. “The debt brake is not only in the constitution, it is also economically necessary – it is an inflation brake,” said the finance minister.

Even without red-green ambitions, the topic of budget financing was a common thread that ran through the appearances of the political speakers. Daniel Günther (CDU), Schleswig-Holstein’s Prime Minister, represented the view of the states. He greeted the capital with a typical “Moin” and then couldn’t resist making a dig about how well things had gone in the north – compared to the federal government – with a three-party coalition.

But he did not hide the mortgage, which made this appointment a bit of an away game for him too: The northernmost federal state charges the highest property transfer tax rate in the country at 6.5 percent.

He knows that this tax is one of the most effective ways to combat the backlog in construction, but he needs the finance minister to do so: “We need to save a billion euros structurally in the country. We can’t do it without the money from the property transfer tax. If we want to lower the rate, we can only do it together with the federal government.” Günther did not allow himself to be drawn into barbs about the internal fight between the Merz and Wüst/Günther factions within the Union.

Instead, his party colleague, General Secretary Carsten Linnemann, followed him to the lectern and brought forward his appearance, originally planned for the afternoon, to the slot that had become vacant for Habeck. He insisted on putting the political context of the previous election Sunday in perspective and said to Chancellor Scholz: “If I have posters all over the country and I come out of an election with 13.9 percent, then I have to draw some conclusions,” he ranted, alluding to the Chancellor’s comment on election day, which had been limited to a meager “Nope.” “At 13.9 percent, he has to ask the question of confidence,” demanded Linnemann.

If he survives it, the traffic light coalition will have to start again and present a ten-point program for Germany’s future. Otherwise, there will have to be new elections. Could the CDU take over? “We are working on a process manual of what needs to happen. We are now preparing to take over the government if the people want that,” said Linnemann.

The country has no more than a year and a half to waste. For the first time, it is in danger of coming out of a recession worse than it went into it. “We have been pouring money into problems for years without breaking up the rigid structures,” he warned, referring to the real estate industry. “There are 20,000 building regulations, in 1990 there were 5,000! Why is there a standard about how many sockets there have to be in a room, why do ventilation systems have to be standardized?” he asked.

The expert, Building Minister Klara Geywitz (SPD), also made an appearance and, as usual, delved deeply into the subject matter in her presentation. She spoke about type approvals, parking space regulations, technical instructions for protection against noise and mixed use. On the podium, she bravely faced the probing questions and the sobering conclusion from the industry. In particular, the removal of bureaucratic hurdles had been discussed for far too long without anything changing; the regulatory superstructure prevented smart and effective construction.

Every single visitor to the “Real Estate Industry Day” right at the entrance to the Tempodrom was made aware that the stagnant and over-regulated housing construction, which ultimately leads to expensive rents, has long since materialized into real-life problems that are eating deep into society and endangering social peace. The “Alliance against displacement and rent madness” was demonstrating there. One of the posters read: “All of Kreuzberg loves expropriation.”