Global Housing Market Slows, Recovery Falls Off Track

A recent global survey shows housing prices worldwide declining. In 2010, more countries experienced overall house price reductions than increases. However, prices were better in 2010 than the …

A recent global survey shows housing prices worldwide declining. In 2010, more countries experienced overall house price reductions than increases. However, prices were better in 2010 than the previous year. See the following article from Global Property Guide for more on this. 

The housing market recovery has stalled, according to the Global Property Guide’s latest house price survey. During 2010, only 15 countries for which Q4 statistics are available experienced house price increases, while 21 countries had house price reductions.  However, 18 housing markets performed better in 2010 than the previous year, while 16 countries performed worse. In 2 countries there was no appreciable change since the previous year.*1
Geographical trends:

• Prices fell further in the United States in 2010 than the previous year.
• Ireland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania Greece and Ukraine are also still suffering badly.
• Eastern European housing markets are still falling. Admittedly, house price falls in 2010 were less than the previous year.
• The Scandinavian house price boom may be ending.
• In the Baltics, Latvia and Estonia’s housing markets recovered strongly in 2010. But now they seem to have stopped rising.
• Price rises still continue in some Asian countries (Taiwan, Thailand, Japan), but Singapore’s boom seems to have moderated.

The Global Property Guide’s statistical presentation uses price-changes after inflation, giving a more realistic picture than the more upbeat nominal figures usually preferred by real estate agents.

Uneven recovery in Europe

Latvia was the best performer in Europe during 2010. During 2010 standard-type apartments in Riga were up 19.09%. The Latvian property market began recovering in Q4 2009, and by Q3 2010 apartment prices had risen a surprising 24.73% year-on-year.

Another strong performance came from Estonia, where Tallinn apartments experienced 7.91% price rises during 2010. Tallinn apartment prices declined 31.08% during 2009.  Estonia’s strong fourth quarter performance may be due to anticipation of euro adoption, which occurred in January 2011.

Ireland suffered the worst price decline of all countries surveyed. In 2010, average house prices in Ireland fell by 11.60% to € 191,776, compared to 2009’s price-decline of 13.51%. Irish prices have now fallen 39.64% from their end-2006 peak of € 310,831, according to the Permanent TSB/ ESRI house price index.

The former Soviet Bloc countries continue to suffer

• In Bulgaria, house prices fell 9.51% in 2010, after falls of 26.36% the previous year.
• In Hungary, house prices fell 6.66% in 2010, after falling 15.66% last year.
• In the Slovak Republic, house prices fell 3.14% in 2010, after falling 12.70% the previous year.
• In Croatia, prices fell 5.06% in 2010, after falling 2.39% the previous year.
• In Poland, house prices in the capital city, Warsaw, were down 2.19% in 2010, after falling 8.09% the previous year.
• Slovenia’s house prices were down 2.69%, after falling 5.22% the previous year.
• In Lithuania, house prices fell by 6.76%, after price falls of 29.29% the previous year.
• Ukraine’s house prices fell by 9.47% in 2010 (not adjusted for inflation), after a fall of 30.22% in 2009.

Two exceptions to these continuing house price falls in the former Soviet Bloc has already been mentioned – Estonia (+19.09%) and Latvia (+7.91%).

The Scandinavian boom has probably ended

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In Norway, house prices rose 4.29% during 2010, which is less than the previous year’s 10.07% rise, perhaps because the Norges Bank raised its key policy rate to 2% in May last year. Norway’s inflation rate is currently 1.5%.

Sweden and Finland also had more moderate price increases in 2010. Sweden’s house prices were up 3.29%, compared to 7.50% the previous year. Finland’s house prices rose 2.63%, compared to 9.05% in 2009.

Calm prevails in Central Europe

Germany surprised everyone by posting 1.55% house price increases in 2010, buoyed by the country’s economic recovery and employment growth.  In 2010, GDP rose 3.6% (unadjusted).

In Switzerland and France, house prices rose a meagre 0.80% and 0.33%, respectively, a more lackluster performance than in 2009 (+3.39% and +1.87%, respectively).

Other rises and falls

Other European markets which have not yet recovered, but experienced slower house price drops in 2010 than the previous year, include Netherlands (-2.64%), Iceland (-4.18%), and Spain (-5.93%).

More severe house price downturns in 2010 than the previous year (based on inflation-adjusted house price changes) were experienced in Greece (-9.75%) and Turkey (-4.80%).

Still no recovery for US housing market

House prices in the United States fell by 1.13% in Q4, or by 5.16% over the year 2010, according to the FHFA’s purchase-only index. High unemployment (at 9%) and declines in house prices prompted banks to resume repossessions, resulting in house prices falling further amid excess supply.

The seasonally-adjusted Case-Shiller index was even more negative, as it slipped by 5.30% during 2010 and fell 2.36% in Q4 2010. The market still seems far from the bottom, and further price falls may occur if oil prices rise, especially as the number of foreclosures continues to be high.

Robust increases despite cooling measures in Asia

Housing markets in Singapore (+13.60%), Taiwan (+9.70%), Japan (+5.71%), Thailand (+2.92%) and Philippines (+0.19%) recorded price increases during 2010, supported by strong economic expansion and all-time low interest rates. Shanghai, China, on the other hand, experienced a slight fall of 1.95%.

In Singapore private home prices climbed 13.60% during 2010. Government interventions in August last year have not dampened transaction volumes, but the fact that the price rise in the final quarter was only 1.76%, and that quarter-on-quarter prices rises have trended down since Q4 2009, suggests that home price rises in Singapore are moderating.

Taiwan’s housing market remains hot, despite government efforts.  Prices rose 9.70% during 2010, and a surprising 7.38% in the last quarter. These earlier price rises prompted the central bank to raise anew the benchmark interest rate to 1.625% amid concerns of house bubble formation, and to limit loan-to-value ratios (LTV) on loans for second houses to 60%.

In Japan, condominium prices have been rising since January 2010. The average price of existing condominiums in Tokyo metropolitan area rose 5.71% year-on-year.

Thailand is finally back in the limelight after suffering house price declines since 2006. Over 2010, single detached homes rose 2.92%, with a rise of 5.84% during the latest quarter. The Thai statistics are somewhat unsatisfactory, as detached houses are not the most common dwelling in an increasingly urbanized Thailand.

Philippines has had its first year of house price growth, after two years of decline. During 2010, secondary market prices for 3-bedroom condominiums in Makati rose 0.19%, with a 0.20% rise occurring during Q4 2010.

In China, second-hand home prices in Shanghai fell 1.95% during 2010, based on prices published by eHomeday.

Israeli house price rises have barely cooled, despite the Central Bank’s efforts

Israeli house prices posted 13.43% growth during 2010, compared to the previous year’s 18.15%. There have been six quarterly double-digit house price rises in Israel since Q3 2009.

This article was republished with permission by Global Property Guide.



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