Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the market liquidity (time-on-market) and its determinants for rental dwellings in the largest seven German cities with big data.

Design/methodology/approach – The determinants of time-on-market are estimated with the Cox proportional hazards model. Hedonic characteristics as well as socioeconomic and spatial variables are combined with different fixed effects and controls for non-linearity to maximise the explanatory power of the model.

Findings – Higher asking rent and larger living space decrease the liquidity on all seven markets, while dwelling’s age, the number of rooms and proximity to the city centre fasten the letting process. For the linear and non-linear hedonic characteristics heterogeneous implications are found.

Practical implications – The findings are of interest for institutional and private landlords as well as governmental organizations in charge of housing and urban development.

Originality/value – It is the first paper to deal with liquidity of rental dwellings in the seven most populated cities of Europe’s second largest rental market by applying the Cox proportional hazards model. Furthermore, the German rental market is of particular interest, as approximately 60%of all rental dwellings are owned by private landlords and the German market is organized polycentric.