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GLOBAL PROPERTY REVIEW 27 May 2019

May 27, 2019

Baku

The real estate market in Azerbaijan’s capital may not have been all fireworks last year, but in a wider context it has continued a period of stability.

Four years after currency devaluation and low commodities prices stymied certain areas of investment into the country, Baku has seen a steady inflow of investment.

The currency is stable, and a diversifying economy is adding more expatriates than your token staff of Big Oil, even if the country is strongly weighted towards the capital. Economic growth is forecast for 3.5 per cent this year, up from 2.5 per cent in 2018 (EBRD).

Apartment prices in the city centre averaged $124,230 mid last year, MBA Group data found, though with monthly rental at around $526 it has little of the stellar rental yields as its neighbour, Georgia.

Property has been tepid, however. January to August last saw a 3.87 per cent fall in the secondary market, following a rise during 2017, though with a mild upturn at the end of 2018, MBA Group data found. The primary market – city centre areas have been a haven of new construction – also saw a brief rise at the end of last year.

A flat market is expected to continue for much of this year, claims the chairman of the Property Market Participants Public Association. Demand – apart from locals removed and rehoused from buildings that needed to be demolished – is mild at best.

Supply is expected to be relatively plentiful. Secondary market housing stock is moving slower in the last year, with transactions down, building up the latest supply. Further, a social housing project will offer local citizens thrifty living options that will compete with the private sector. 

 

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Detroit

Michigan’s biggest city continues to turn pages onto new chapters of improvement, internal investment and stability. Which is promising, in a city that’s had its fair share of chapters.

Iconic for its automobile manufacture, then infamous for its decline during the global financial crisis, the city's problems in the last decade have been as much about an exodus of population as anything else, shriveling demand throughout its metropolitan areas.

The last few years have seen authorities look to change the outer perception of Detroit, which is challenging given the social issues connected with the decline of industry.

A report earlier this year found that almost a quarter of renters are 60 years old or over, a figure that rose significantly between 2007-2017, indicating the city is less a property ladder than horizontal monkey bars for some.

But a corner has been turned, it seems. Two billionaire families committing to rejuvenate the city has helped its PR in this regard. Detroit is still home to the Big 3 car builders – Chrysler, General Motors and Ford Motors - plus a range of multi-national icons benefiting from the strategic proximity to Canada.

Prices are rising following a fall in supply on the secondary market – listings in February this year were down 10 per cent against 12 months earlier. Suburban house prices have either equaled or surpassed pre-2017 levels, while a policy of ‘Action not Auction’ in certain areas aims to reduce foreclosures.

And it remains a highly affordable city. The median home price of $80,000 is more than 60 per cent less than the national average, with metropolitan prices lower by 6 per cent.

Rental yields also stack up kindly, though population growth is lower.

 

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Johannesburg

South Africa’s biggest city can expect greater stability for its property market last year, compared to a dramatic 2018 that contained political uncertainty surrounding an election and nationwide increases to basic costs, including fuel.

It’s a tough city to keep down overall, being the economic powerhouse and the centre for core industries such as mining, industry and finance, and a population of 8.3 million.

While the number of transactions has been stable for the last two years, the average deal prices have continued to increase this year, extending a two-year trend. By April this year, the average house changed hands for around Rs1,400,000, Property24 data show. Apartments saw a blip mid-last year but are now at a ten-year high of around Rs600,000.

While the total number of houses on the market has been steady at around 12,000 for the last 12 months, the number of new houses listed has also been flat, though January saw an increase in this regard.

A key issue for this year will be its appeal, and affordability, for first time buyers. The 20,878 of properties sold last year worth Rs1,500,00 and under outstripped its rival Pretoria, yet the northern province of Gauteng is competing strongly for this demographic. All the while there are concerns of an ongoing ‘semigration’ of citizens in the higher price bracket selling up to switch to cities such as Cape Town.

Another issue is its appeal to companies and its offering on the commercial real estate. At 12.8 per cent, it has the highest vacancy rate among other metropolitan areas. This increased in the second half of last year compared to a decline in the first half, JLL data show, as additional supply hit the market.

 

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