Prime property prices in key global cities up 1.4% on average in 2016

Prices in key prime property markets around the world increased by 1.4% on average year on year, almost unchanged from the increase recorded in 2015, the latest global index shows.

Australasia was the strongest performing world region in 2016 with prices rising by 11.4% year on year with Shanghai prices up 27.4%, Beijing up 26.7% and Guangzhou up 26.6%, according to the prime international residential index from real estate firm Knight Frank.

Seoul also saw strong growth with luxury prices increase by 16.6% and the report says that low interest rates and strong economic growth boosted demand in the South Korean capital.

Asia was the second strongest performing region with prices rising by 5.1% on average. In Hong Kong, which recorded negative growth in 2015, prices drifted upwards in 2016 recording annual growth of 2.1%.

The strongest market in North America was Toronto where prices increased by 15.1% year on year but this was notably lower than the 25% increase recorded in 2015. A new 15% tax on foreign buyers introduced in August saw sales decrease, the report points out.

Meanwhile, Europe continues to send out mixed messages. Of those locations recording a fall in prices in 2016 some 50% were located in Europe. A year earlier this figure was 65%, suggesting that the continent’s recovery is gaining traction.

Amsterdam, Gstaad, Munich, Berlin and Barcelona were Europe’s top performers in 2016, but second home markets such as Ibiza, Mallorca, the Western Algarve and Lake Como also rose up the rankings.

But the prime market in London saw prices fall by 6.3% in 2016 with the report pointing out that stamp duty changes in recent years have weakened demand but the final quarter saw activity strengthen as buyers adjusted to the new tax burden.

It also says that while some of the strongest performers such as Auckland, Sydney and Berlin, appear to have become permanent fixtures at the top of the rankings, a number of our newer prime movers, such as Guangzhou, Seattle and Amsterdam, can attribute their sudden ascent to the fact that their prime prices are rising from a low base.

Guangzhou, for example, now finds itself sitting alongside Shanghai in the rankings, having recorded 27% annual price growth. Yet in real terms, prime prices here are half those found in China’s financial capital. Seattle and Amsterdam are also rising from a low base, but in both cases this can be considered a price correction following falls of 29% and 18% respectively post-Lehman.

Latin America is one of four regions which recorded negative growth in 2016 with prices down by 2.7% year on year and in the Middle East prices fell by 3.3% on average in 2016, due in part to the fluctuation of oil prices.

Overall of the 100 cities tracked by the index some 61% recorded flat or rising prices in 2016, down from 66% the year before. The report says this suggests a marginal slowdown in the performance of global luxury residential markets in general.

Looking ahead, the report suggests that over the coming months all eyes will be on policymakers in China as they attempt to reign in prices in the largest cities. The wider mainstream market, where price growth of 30% year on year is not uncommon, continues to overshadow the luxury sector.

It points out that new cooling measures, including higher deposit rates and home purchase restrictions, have already been introduced in some cities in the hope of both slowing the rate of growth and deterring speculative demand. By the final quarter of 2016, these were beginning to take effect.

The report also points out that local economic activity has a strong bearing on price performance, indeed all of this year’s top 10 rankings report 3% or more in annual GDP growth.

‘The long held safe haven narrative still has its place, but with strong capital growth eluding the world’s top financial capitals, we expect secondary markets across Europe and the US to come under the spotlight. Cities that offer the potential for attractive margins, where prices are rising from a low base and where any risk is tempered by a level of transparency and good governance such as Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Dublin, Chicago and Seattle, look likely to perform well,’ it concludes.

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