During the year to Q2 2018:

  • House prices rose in 25 out of the 39 world's housing markets which have so far published housing statistics, using inflation-adjusted figures.
  • The more upbeat nominal figures, more familiar to the public, showed house price rises in 32 countries. House prices fell in only 6 countries and remained stable in 1 country.


Most of Europe continues to experience strong price rises, especially Ireland and the Netherlands.  In Asia Hong Kong and Macau have risen strongly over the past year. There have also been notable turnarounds in Thailand, Egypt, and Puerto Rico. But China, Ukraine, and most of the Middle East are experiencing either house price falls - or a sharp deceleration of house price rises.

The strongest housing markets in our global house price survey during the year to Q2 2018 included: Hong Kong (+13.15%), Ireland (+11.57%), Netherlands (+7.24%), Macau (+6.31%), and Mexico (+5.12%) using inflation-adjusted figures.

The biggest y-o-y house-price declines were in Qatar (-16.91%), Kiev, Ukraine (-7.81%), Dubai, UAE (-7.63%), Turkey (-4.21%), and Shanghai, China (-3.51%), again using inflation-adjusted figures.

Momentum. Only 16 of the world's housing markets for which figures are available showed stronger upward momentum during the year to Q2 2018, while 23 housing markets showed weaker momentum, according to Global Property Guide's research. Momentum is a measure of the "change in the change"; simply put, momentum has increased if a property market has risen faster this year than last (or fallen less).

Inflation-adjusted figures are used throughout this survey. In the case of Kiev, Ukraine, the Global Property Guide adjusts using the official U.S. inflation rate since Ukrainian secondary market dwelling sales are denominated in U.S. dollars.

Source: Various series, data descriptions and sources here

 

The strongest performing markets:

Hong Kong is now the strongest housing market in our global survey, up from fourth place in the previous quarter. Residential property prices surged 13.15% during the year to Q2 2018, after y-o-y rises of 12.28% in Q1 2018, 12.78% in Q4 2017, 13.41% in Q3 2017 and 19.27% in Q2 2017. Quarter-on-quarter, house prices increased 5.05% in Q2 2018.

The boom continues despite stamp duties being raised for all non-first time homebuyers (November 2016) and allowable loans on residential and commercial properties being cut in May 2017. In addition, Chief Executive Carrie Lam revealed in June 2018 another series of cooling measures, including a tax against vacant flats.

Ireland's economy grew by 7.8% last year. It is not surprising that the housing market is growing at breakneck speed. Residential property prices were up by 11.57% during the year to Q2 2018, after y-o-y rises of 12.4% in Q1 2018, 11.7% in Q4 2017, 11.75% in Q3 2017, and 11.8% in Q2 2017. During the latest quarter, Irish house prices increased 2.22%. Ireland’s surging house prices are being driven by strong demand and supply shortages.

The Netherlands' housing market continues to perform very well, mainly due to robust demand, coupled with inadequate housing supply. The average purchase price of all dwellings rose by 7.24% during the year to Q2 2018, slightly up from the previous year’s 6.39% growth. On a quarterly basis, house prices were up 0.85% during the latest quarter.

During 2017, home sales surged 13% from a year ago. However in the first seven months of 2018, home sales dropped more than 7% from a year earlier due to supply shortages.

Macau’s housing market remains strong. The average transaction price of residential units rose by 6.31% during the year to Q2 2018, following y-o-y rises of 4.22% in Q1 2018, 4.93% in Q4 2017, 9.59% in Q3 2017 and 11.79% in Q2 2017. House prices increased by 5.21% q-o-q during the latest quarter. Macau’s housing market is buoyed by massive infrastructure investments, which will transform Macau's connections to China and Hong Kong.

Mexico's housing market is strengthening, amidst improving economic conditions. The nationwide house price index rising by 5.12% during the year to Q2 2018, up from a y-o-y growth of just 0.73% in Q2 2017. On a quarterly basis, house prices increased 4.89% during the latest quarter.

Source: Various series, data descriptions and sources here

 

THE REGIONS:

Most of Europe remains vibrant

European house price rises continue unabated. House prices have risen over the past year in no less than 13 of the 20 European housing markets for which figures were available.

Ireland remains the best performer in Europe, buoyed by its very strong economy. Residential property prices were up by 11.57% during the year to Q2 2018, after y-o-y rises of 12.4% in Q1 2018, 11.7% in Q4 2017, 11.75% in Q3 2017, and 11.8% in Q2 2017. During the latest quarter, Irish house prices increased 2.22%. Ireland's surging house prices are mainly driven by strong demand as well as supply shortages. The Irish economy grew by around 7.8% last year and is projected to expand by another 5.6% this year, according to the European Commission.

The Netherlands' housing market remains strong, mainly due to robust demand, coupled with lack of adequate housing supply in the market. The average purchase price of all dwellings rose by 7.24% during the year to Q2 2018, slightly up from the previous year’s 6.39% growth. On a quarterly basis, house prices were up 0.85% during the latest quarter. During 2017, home sales surged 13% from a year ago, fuelled by low interest rates and robust economic growth. In the first seven months of 2018, home sales dropped more than 7% from a year earlier to 124,615 units, according to Statistics Netherlands. The Dutch economy grew by 3.1% in 2017, the highest growth since 2007. GDP is expected to grow by another 3.2% this year and by 2.4% in 2019, according to the IMF.

Portugal’s housing prices continue to rise strongly, fuelled by surging demand as well as improved economic conditions. Nationwide property prices rose by 4.53% during the year to Q2 2018, from y-o-y rises of 4.7% in Q1 2018, 3.03% in Q4 2017, 4.04% in Q3 2017 and 3.47% in Q2 2017. During the latest quarter, house prices were almost stable.

After more than three years of depression, house prices in Portugal started to recover in 2014. The Portuguese economy is expected to expand by 2.4% this year, after GDP growth of 2.7% in 2017, 1.6% in 2016, 1.8% in 2015, and 0.9% in 2014.

Other strong European housing markets included Iceland, with house prices rising by 4.18% during the year to Q2 2018, Spain (4.01%), and Riga, Latvia (2.68%). All, expect Latvia, recorded positive quarterly growth during the latest quarter. In terms of momentum, only Spain had stronger performance in Q2 2018 compared to a year earlier.

Minimal annual house price rises during the year to Q2 2018 were registered in Jersey (1.93%), Germany (1.74%), Slovak Republic (1.68%), Romania (1.66%), Athens, Greece (0.66%), Lithuania (0.48%) and Finland (0.43%). Only Germany, Slovak Republic, Finland and Lithuania saw quarterly growth during the latest quarter. On the other hand, only Jersey, Greece and Finland performed better in Q2 2018 compared to the previous year.

Europe's weakest housing markets

Ukraine's housing market remains depressed, despite improved economic conditions. Secondary market apartment prices in Kiev fell by 7.81% (inflation-adjusted) during the year to Q2 2018, to an average price of US$ 1,071 per square metre (sq. m.) – worse than the previous year’s 5.13% decline. House prices fell 1.94% quarter-on-quarter in Q2 2018.

House prices in Ukraine have been falling over the past five years, particularly in 2014 (with prices plunging 37.38%) because of hryvnia devaluation due to the Russian war. Ukraine's economy is expected to expand by 3.2% this year, after expansions of 2.5% in 2017 and 2.4% in 2016, and contractions of 9.8% in 2015, 6.6% in 2014 and 0.03% in 2013.

Turkey’s housing market continues to weaken, amidst its plummeting currency (the lira), record-high inflation, and the country’s political conflict with the US. Nationwide residential property prices fell by 4.21% during the year to Q2 2018, in contrast with a 1.62 y-o-y rise in a year earlier - the fourth consecutive quarter of y-o-y price declines. On a quarterly basis, house prices dropped 1.99% during the latest quarter.

In June 2018, inflation rose to 15.39%, the highest level since 2004. The Turkish lira plunged to record lows, having shed more than 40% of its value against the US dollar in the past year. The government recently cut its 2018 GDP growth forecast to 3% - 4% from its earlier estimate of 5%.

Switzerland’s house prices fell 3.49% y-o-y in Q2 2018, the fourth consecutive quarter of annual price declines and the biggest fall in almost two decades. During the latest quarter, prices fell by 1.28% q-o-q.

After about 15 years of uninterrupted house price rises, the Swiss government’s efforts to cool the country’s overheated property market have finally succeeded. The Swiss economy is expected to expand by 2.3% this year and by another 2% in 2019, following annual growth of 1.1% in 2017, 1.4% in 2016, 1.2% in 2015 and 2.5% in 2014, according to the IMF.

Other weak European housing markets included Sweden, with house prices falling by 1.86% during the year to Q2 2018, Russia (-0.81%), Norway (-0.73%), and the UK (-0.09%). Only Norway and the UK saw quarterly growth during the latest quarter. All, except Russia, performed better in Q2 2018 compared to the previous year.

The Asia-Pacific region remains strong, but China slowing rapidly

Two of the five strongest housing markets in our global survey are in Asia-Pacific, with house prices rising in 6 of the 9 housing markets for which figures were available during the year to Q2 2018.

Hong Kong's housing market continues to boom, with residential property prices surging 13.15% during the year to Q2 2018, from y-o-y rises of 12.28% in Q1 2018, 12.78% in Q4 2017, 13.41% in Q3 2017, and 19.27% in Q2 2017. Quarter-on-quarter, house prices increased 5.05% in Q2 2018.

The latest house price rises come despite the government raising stamp duties for all non-first time homebuyers starting November 2016 and cutting allowable loans on residential and commercial properties in May 2017. In June 2018, Chief Executive Carrie Lam revealed another series of cooling measures, including a tax against vacant flats. In the first half of 2018, the total number of property transactions in Hong Kong increased 5.6% from a year earlier while sales values rose by 8.4%, according to the Ratings and Valuation Department (RVD). The economy expanded by 3.8% last year, the highest growth since 2011. The IMF recently raised its 2018 growth forecast for Hong Kong to 3.6%, up from its earlier estimate of 2.6%.

Macau’s housing market remains vibrant, amidst massive infrastructure investments, which will transform Macau's connections to China and Hong Kong. The average transaction price of residential units rose by 6.31% during the year to Q2 2018, following y-o-y rises of 4.22% in Q1 2018, 4.93% in Q4 2017, 9.59% in Q3 2017 and 11.79% in Q2 2017. House prices increased strongly by 5.21% q-o-q during the latest quarter.

Macau's economy grew by a spectacular 9.3% in 2017, a sharp turnaround from y-o-y declines of 0.9% in 2016, 21.6% in 2015, and 1.2% in 2014. Macau’s economy is expected to grow by 7% this year and by another 6.1% in 2019, according to the IMF.

Thailand’s housing market is rising strongly again, with nationwide house prices rising by 5.01% during the year to Q2 2018, in contrast to a y-o-y decline of 3.02% in the previous year. House prices fell slightly by 0.58% q-o-q in Q2 2018. During the first five months of 2018, nationwide land and building transactions rose by 3.2% y-o-y to THB 425.74 billion (US$ 13.1 billion). The Bank of Thailand recently raised its 2018 economic growth forecast for the fifth time to 4.4% from its earlier projection of 4.1% due to rising exports and strong private consumption.

Other Asia-Pacific housing markets with modest house price rises include New Zealand, with house prices rising by 4.3% during the year to Q2 2018, Tokyo, Japan (3.89%), and Indonesia (0.01%). All, except Japan, recorded positive quarterly growth during the latest quarter. In addition, all showed stronger upward momentum in Q2 2018 as compared to the previous year.

Sharp housing slowdown in China

China’s housing market is now slowing, with new regulatory and monetary policies impacting developers and speculative buyers. In Shanghai, the price index of second-hand houses fell by 3.51% during the year to Q2 2018, in sharp contrast with a y-o-y rise of 6.76 in Q2 2017. During the latest quarter, house prices in Shanghai fell by 0.81%.

Despite this, the Chinese economy grew by 6.7% y-o-y in Q2 2018, only slightly lower than the 6.8% growth recorded the previous quarter. The economy is projected to expand by 6.6% this year, after expanding 6.9% in 2017 and 6.7% in 2016. China has achieved 27 straight years of above 6% growth.

Taiwan's housing market is still weak. Nationwide house prices fell by 0.27% during the year to Q2 2018, compared to a decline of 0.07% y-o-y in Q2 2017. Quarter-on-quarter, house prices fell by 0.15% in during the latest quarter.

South Korea's housing market is also fragile, with the nationwide housing purchase price index falling by 0.08% during the year to Q2 2018, from a y-o-y decline of 0.73% a year earlier. House prices dropped 0.04% q-o-q during the latest quarter.

Middle Eastern housing markets continue to struggle, but Egypt is an exception

The Middle East is now in the doldrums, with two of the three weakest housing markets in our global house price survey: Qatar and UAE. This is not surprising given the region's ailing economy due to low oil prices and the ongoing political and diplomatic crisis. The Middle East's economy grew by just 1.1% in 2017, the lowest level in eight years.

Qatar remains the weakest housing market in our global survey, amidst a sharp economic slowdown and the adverse impact of the blockade it is suffering from other Golf countries.

Qatar's real estate price index dropped 16.91% during the year to Q2 2018, after y-o-y declines of 9.65% in Q1 2018, 10.42% in Q4 2017, 3.47% in Q3 2017, and 4.52% in Q2 2017. Property prices fell by 6.62% q-o-q during the latest quarter. The Qatari economy is expected to grow by a modest 2.6% this year, after annual average growth of 2.1% in 2016-17, 4.2% during 2012-15, and 15.7% in 2008-11.

Other Middle Eastern housing markets are also depressed.

In Dubai, residential property prices fell 7.63% during the year to Q2 2018, worse than the prior year’s 2.51% decline, amidst weak economic growth, low investor sentiment, and an oversupply of housing. During the latest quarter, house prices in Dubai dropped 1.33% q-o-q.

Likewise, Israel's decade-long house price boom is now over, with government cooling measures intensifying. The nationwide average price of owner-occupied dwellings fell by 1.21% during the year to Q2 2018, in sharp contrast with the previous year's 4.06% growth. Israeli house prices fell  1.14% q-o-q in Q2 2018.

Egypt is an exception

Egypt’s housing market has risen over the past year, with the nationwide real estate index rising by 4.51% during the year to Q2 2018, in contrast with the y-o-y decline of 5.32% during the previous year. However house prices fell 9.91% quarter-on-quarter during the latest quarter. 

Rapid house price rises should be expected in Egypt due to the dramatic inflation unleashed by more-than-halving of the currency's value in November 2016.  That house prices have not risen more is surprising.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi recently removed the last restrictions on foreign ownership of land and property in Egypt. He also allowed the government, the biggest landowner in Egypt, to use its land for public-private partnership schemes. The economy is expected to grow strongly by 5.2% this year, the fastest pace in a decade, according to the IMF.

The Americas are mixed

The U.S. remains strong but Canada is slowing sharply.

In Latin America, Mexico is strengthening while Chile has rebounded strongly. House prices are still falling in Brazil, despite some improvement.

After five years of strong house price growth, the U.S. housing market remains surprisingly vibrant. The Federal Housing Finance Agency's seasonally-adjusted purchase-only U.S. house price index increased 3.67% y-o-y in Q2 2018 (inflation-adjusted), after annual rises of 4.93% in Q1 2018, 4.64% in Q4 2017, 4.68% in Q3 2017 and 4.77% in Q2 2017. The FHFA index rose by 0.07% q-o-q during the latest quarter.

U.S. housing demand and construction activity are mixed. In July 2018, sales of new single-family houses rose by 12.8% y-o-y while existing home sales were down by 1.5%. Building permits authorized for new housing units rose by 4.2% in July 2018 from a year earlier. On the other hand, new housing starts fell by 1.4% y-o-y in July 2018, while completions were slightly down by 0.8%.

The world’s biggest economy grew by 4.1% y-o-y in Q2 2018, nearly double the 2.2% growth the previous quarter and the fastest pace since Q3 2014. Growth was mainly driven by consumers spending their tax cuts and exporters rushing to get their goods delivered ahead of retaliatory tariffs. Recently, the IMF raised its 2018 US growth forecast from 2.3% to 2.7% and finally to 2.9%, an acceleration from the expansions of 2.3% in 2017 and 1.5% in 2016.

In December 2017, President Donald Trump signed a landmark tax law (known as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act or TCJA) considered to be the largest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in over 30 years.

Canada's housing market is slowing sharply, amidst the introduction of more market-cooling measures and rising mortgage interest rates. House prices in the country’s eleven major cities rose by a meagre 0.41% during the year to Q2 2018, a sharp deceleration from last year’s 13.02% growth. Quarter-on-quarter, house prices increased 1.68% q-o-q in Q2 2018.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) expects home sales to fall by 11% this year, mainly due to higher home prices and interest rates, supply shortages, and heightened uncertainty. Demand is weak. In July 2018, actual sales activity dropped 1.3% from a year earlier.  The Canadian economy grew by a healthy 3% in 2017, the highest growth since 2011. The economy is expected to expand by 2.1% this year and by another 2% in 2019.

The Latin Americas are improving

Mexico's nationwide house price index rose by 5.12% during the year to Q2 2018, up from just 0.73% y-o-y house price rises in Q2 2017. House prices increased 4.89% q-o-q during the latest quarter.

Chile's housing market continues to grow stronger, despite the introduction of a property sales tax in 2016. The average price of new apartments in Greater Santiago rose by 3.39% during the year to Q2 2018, up from the previous year's 2.11% y-o-y growth. House prices fell by 1.07% q-o-q in Q2 2018.

Brazil’s house prices are still falling, but the outlook is now positive, amidst increasing construction and home sales, as well as a positive economic outlook. In Sao Paulo, house prices fell by 2.38% during the year to Q2 2018, after a y-o-y decline of 2.15% a year earlier. Quarter-on-quarter, house prices in Sao Paulo fell by 1.22% in Q2 2018.