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GLOBAL PROPERTY REVIEW

February 11, 2019

Seychelles

 

There comes a point in some emerging locations where a switch seems to flip, and their time has come for global recognition. Goa, 40 years ago, Thailand 20 years ago - that kind of thing.

Seychelles might be nearing a relative high. The archipelago in the Indian Ocean off Africa’s east coast is replete with all the pristine beaches, coral reefs, jungle, and rare bird species to enchant a generation.

This natural feast has been maintained after decades of political isolation. The 16 years of Marxist government since the 1977 coup shut out the majority of global trade and tourism. So despite prosperity since 1993, its real estate is somewhat playing catch-up.

Today, the variety of property should be of any interest second home purchase buying to escape. Beyond the colonial era houses and apartment on Mahe, the largest land mass are smaller islands developing villa communities. There are also reclaimed land masses dredged up from the sea off the coast of Mahe, such as Eden Island, a 560-property development of villas, townhouses and apartments.

Why build islands when there are already 118 of them? Freehold ownership is one reason - Eden Island offers that, and is connected with mainland Mahe, which doesn’t. A Daily Telegraph report from last year found the resort selling well, with fewer than 40 dwellings available.

The government is generally adapting to international norms. Pockets of freehold opportunities have emerged. New developments are given approval if they meet certain ecological standards.

But there's a slight sting in the tail of late - the Seychelles Registration Department last year implemented an annual 0.25 per cent property tax on foreign owned real estate.

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The Hague

 

Sometimes a capital city is de-coupled and unrecognisable from the rest of the country. Sometimes, it is a microcosm. Den Haag is somewhere in between. The huge surge in price appreciation in the global city of Amsterdam has caused it and rivals such as Rotterdam to benefit from price appreciation of its own as overspill.

More generally, the demand from single citizens and young families is also increasing.

But as with the Big Five in Germany, the price rises in the big cities are rooted in a decreasing supply of housing and apartment stock. Including - when prices really soar - affordable housing.

Expatriates looking to buy rather than rent, and corporations buying for employees, also add to total urban demand. More rural areas of the country, however, have seen less activity.

Statistics from the start of last year were bolshy enough - prices in Den Haag had risen 24 per cent up to the end of Q1 2018, the Dutch real estate association NVM found.

By October, the same authority declared that the average national selling price was EUR 292,000, a figure skewed up by the big cities. That’s up 10 per cent for the year, with housing stock falling by 12 per cent.

Rental rates continue to increase - nationally, rents jumped 4.9 per cent in last year’s fourth quarter against Q4 2017, the first dip under 5 per cent growth in almost four years.

Good for investors in Den Haag, despite the influence on higher prices compressing the net yields.

Indeed, a hike in municipality taxes in 2019 need to be factored in. Home owners in the city will pay at least EUR 563 per year, COELO research found.

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Oslo

The Norwegian capital is entering its sixth year of sustained international appeal across the sub-sectors of real estate.

With solid social economic growth, the country is seeing internal and external demand, with the capital the focal. It’s gross national product is expected to have been 2.5 per cent last year and this.

But the 2014 slump in oil prices devalued the Krone, leading to investors making their moves. Applications for lending from foreign investors rose, like in Sweden. But unlike its neighbour, the foreign ministry clamped down on lending rules.

Indeed, to avoid bubble-territory, the International Monetary Fund warned in June last year that its banks’ rules on lending may need to remain in order to prevent a flood of leveraged buyers.

On the residential side, the price appreciation in the last year sees the market in almost too-good territory, hence the warnings. Prices moved up 1.1 per cent in just a month (April-May) nationally. A higher yield compared to London, Paris and elsewhere is one explanation for the rise in appeal, in addition to a population growth in the wider capital area of about 1.3 per cent last year.

This year already, news was made when broadcaster NRK announced a move from its city centre location of Marienlyst, freeing up potentially 107,000 square metres of new housing.

As an example of the international demand for the commercial real estate, a debate erupted in the parliament of Ghana as to whether a US$12 million historical property in Oslo - to be used as the government’s mission - was purchased. The Minority declared the ‘inflated’ purchase done and dusted.

"I don’t believe the seller is Father Christmas,” said the spokesperson for the Minority’s foreign affairs. Quite.

 

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