China leads house price growth, Australia has biggest fall, global index shows

More countries and are seeing residential property price rises year on year than at any time in the last decade but the average rate of growth is slowing significantly, the latest global index shows.

Although still in positive figures, the second quarter Global House Price Index from Knight Frank has seen a slowdown in annual growth for six consecutive quarters which is says is due to uncertainty caused by trade wars, weakening economic outlooks, political uncertainty and Brexit.

China leads the index for the first time since 2010 with annual growth of 10.9%, followed by Malta up 10.8%, the Czech Republic up 9.4%, Luxemburg up 9.3%, then Mexico and Hungary both up 9.2%.

At the other end of the index, prices have fallen by 7.4% in Australia, by 2.6% in Finland and 0.8% in Morocco and Italy. In Brazil and Switzerland prices have increased by just 0.2% and 0.4% in Poland.

The report says that China’s growth represents the index’s lowest ranking top performer since the first quarter of 2009. China’s leads due to Slovenia and Latvia, last quarter’s frontrunners, slowing at a faster rate.

It also points out that the quarter also saw the highest percentage of countries register either flat or positive price growth year on year since 2009 at 93%. More locations are registering annual price growth but their average rate of growth is slowing.

A look at the world’s largest advanced economies, the G7, which recently held its 45th summit in Biarritz, shows that all members apart from France saw their rate of growth slow in the last 12 months, but only Italy registered a decline in prices over this period.

Analysis by world region shows Latin America was the strongest performing in the year to June 2019. Mexico, Chile and Colombia all registered annual price growth above 7%. Expanding economies, rising wages and greater access to credit is bolstering demand, the report says.

In Europe, slower growth is a common theme but some interesting trends stand out. Austria with a rise of 7.3% now outperforms Germany where prices increased 5%, Portugal with a rise of 7.8% is rising up the rankings, and Central and Eastern European countries continue to perform strongly with the Czech Republic up 9.4%, Hungary up 9.2% and Bulgaria up 7.3%.

The UK has slipped from 36th place a year ago to 48th place in the global rankings as uncertainty surrounding Brexit mounts. However, it remains a highly localised market, with some cities including Birmingham, Plymouth and Cardiff outperforming the average and evidence of pent-up demand building at the prime end of the market.

Although Australia was at the bottom of the index, with two interest rate cuts this year, new lending stimulus in place and prices bottoming out, Knight Frank expects Australia to rise up the rankings in the second half of 2019.