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GLOBAL PROPERTY REVIEW - 4 March 2019

March 4, 2019

Vancouver

 

It can’t be great news when the top hit on a search for ‘Vancouver property’ flags up an auction opportunity for distressed home sales in the city. 

 

While such a website may have paid to be top of the rankings, it’s not entirely irrelevant to the elements of strain during much of last year and creeping already into 2019. 

 

Vancouver had been one of the most popular global destinations, with global capital, particularly from China, heating city centre and suburban houses to boiling point - up an average 7 per cent per year for the last decade. 

 

A subsequent clamp down from British Colombia on overseas buyers sought to cool the  competition and keep apartments, condos and single-family detached homes in reach of locals. 

 

The result - and perhaps the after-effects of a heating market which peaked in September 2017 - has been a gradual fall in house prices for the last half year.

 

The Metro Vancouver Benchmark House Price index (MortgageSandbox) found that houses were around the $1.6 million mark in May 2018 before plummeting to $1.43 million by January this year.

 

Sales and transactions are down - the 1,600 residential deals in November 2018 was a 42.5 per cent fall on the same month the previous year, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

 

The Board said that potential buyers had decided to wait-and-see during last year following the recent price inflation.

 

Local press are speculating how many more houses will dip under the $1 million mark as sellers experience fewer enquiries. North Shore, South Surrey and White Rock are expected to fall further.

 

The luxury market has also been hit of late - down more than 11 per cent last year.

 

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Colombo

 

Property and land price increases in the Sri Lankan capital have made it an interesting entrant to the usual shortlist of Asian markets rise for real estate.

 

Average land prices in Colombo rose 36 per centrist year, according to LankaPropertyWeb’s House Price Index. 

 

It compares with a 15 per cent average increase in land plots nationally, while house prices and commercial buildings rose 17 per cent and more than 11 per cent, respectively.

 

Colombo is the commercial capital in a country that still relies heavily on tourism, fishing and natural produce but has struggled to develop evenly after years of unrest further north.

 

Now a Middle Income Country, according to the IMF, it’s really kicking on, and planned infrastructure such as the Colombo List Rail System and big developments explain the hike in land prices. 

 

The most eye-catching is the upcoming Colombo International Financial City. Built on 269 hectares of reclaimed land mass jutting into the sea, this multi-use project will deliver a mini Singapore of high powered infrastructure, shiny buildings for business and residence along with breezy parks for families, healthcare and transport.

 

KPMG estimated that growing population density in the country - projected to rise to 5,722 per square kilometre by 2030, with an urbanisation rate of 30 per cent - necessitated such bold, Dubai-style masterplans to meet ongoing demand.

 

It found a particular growth market in the luxury sector, especially on an investment basis. While prices in this segment are still between US$200-400 per square foot in prime areas of the city, it cited a growing proportion of buyers deriving from the local population, but with only 16 per cent end users, reflecting an expected appreciation.

 

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Salzburg

 

Austria overall has had a decent decade for real estate in its major cities. Prices rose an average 39 per cent nationwide between 2010 and 2016, according to an ImmoDEX report, while OeNB’s index for the sector rose 7.97 per cent in Q3 last year against 12 months earlier.

 

Salzburg has the kind of history, setting, architecture and surroundings that sells itself by looking back - a city best introduced with a coffee table book of the Baroque era rather than a shiny, CGI brochure. 

 

The home of Mozart, the city is the counterpoint to Vienna out east, though smaller in size and without the super luxury found in the city centre of the capital.

 

Just a relatively short drive into Bavaria in southern Germany, it a permanent hive of tourists. As such, the short term rental market does a solid trade. It is also a commercial location in its own right.

 

Statistics from Numbeo for February 2019 found that the average apartment price in the city centre is around EUR 5,400 per square metre, and contrasts with the EUR 3,700 of the city’s commuter belt. Good quality one bedrooms in the city will generate around EUR 753 per month in rent, with around EUR 1,400 for a three bedroom apartment. 

 

Bank Austria has cited the number of 25- to 44-year olds in the country to grow as a proportion of total population. A fall in housing permits - down 5.6 per cent nationally in the first three quarters of 2018 - also hints that this isn’t a country awash with new supply, including in Salzburg.

 

Buyers will need to be aware of the 3.5 per cent Real Property Transfer Tax and the 1.1 per cent Land Registry registration fee, brokers Team Rauscher warn.

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