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Global house price index sees lowest rate of annual growth since start of 2016

House prices in key cities around the globe increased by 5.1% in the 12 months to September 2017, down from 6.3% in the second quarter of the year and the lowest rate of annual growth since the start of 2016.

While the figures from the Knight Frank quarter three global house price index show that prices increased year on year in 88% of the countries tracked, almost half saw their rate of growth decline compared with the previous quarter.

Iceland leads the index for the fourth consecutive quarter with growth of 20.4% but its rate of growth has slowed too from 23.2%. In second place is Hong Kong with annual growth of 17.5%, then the Czech Republic up 13.2% and Malta up 11.5%.

A closer look at the figures show that European housing markets averaged 5.6% price growth in the year to September, up from 2.3% three years ago, China has slipped from 12th to 19th position in the rankings due to tighter macro-prudential regulations and Estonia, Hungary and New Zealand have dropped out of the top 10.

Indeed, New Zealand slipped from 10th place to 27th as annual price growth declined from 10.4% to 5.2%. The report says that tighter lending conditions and plans to introduce a ban on foreign investors in 2018 have potentially reduced some of the speculative activity in the market.

Although nearly nine in every 10 of the countries tracked by the index recorded positive annual price growth almost half saw their rate of annual growth decline compared with the previous quarter.

The shift was most evident at the top of the rankings table as 13 of the 15 strongest performing housing markets around the world registered a slowdown in their rate of annual growth.

Ukraine was the weakest performing housing market with prices down by 6.7%. Next was Saudi Arabia, entering the index for the first time, with prices down 5.4%. The report says that the oil dependent Saudi economy is struggling to gain traction, which along with the recent introduction of a levy on expat workers is stifling housing demand.

The United States and the UK are following different trajectories, mirroring their economic performance, the report points out. Average prices in the US increased 6.2% over the 12 month period, up from 5.8% in the last quarter whilst the UK has incurred a marginal dip from 2.8% to 2.6%. ‘The UK market remains highly localised with affordability a key concern in many markets,’ said Kate Everett-Allen, partner at Knight Frank International residential research.

She pointed out that European housing markets are firmly back in the spotlight. On average, the region recorded 5.6% annual price growth in the year to September, up from 2.3% three years ago. In particular, Greece with prices down just 0.7% may see price growth reach positive territory over the next quarter after nine years of negative annual growth.

‘Despite Europe’s recent recovery, analysis over a five and 10 year period underlines the extent to which countries within Asia Pacific still rank amongst the highest performers,’ Everett-Allen added.