High-end home prices in many US markets are being slashed by nearly 30%. The US-China trade war, changes in tax policies, uncertainty in Europe and rising interest rates (or the combination of all four) are the usual suspects.

BUT, is there any good news surrounding these price reductions? Yes!!! Great deals. Houses that were once considered financially untouchable by many are now becoming financially possible by some. And who knows? Perhaps there will be more homes that become even more financially possible tomorrow.

This housing downturn is not exclusive to US markets. Globally, housing markets, particularly prime housing markets, are feeling both the joys and disappointments caused by reduced home prices.

Let’s take a look at the current global housing picture in this two-part series. Today’s Part I focuses on London, Sydney, Dubai, and Hong Kong. Part II will focus on New York, Dublin, Vancouver, Istanbul and Munich.

In London, prime housing markets are down -19% below the 2014 price peak, according to Savills. Home prices in Chelsea, Kensington and Westminster districts have all been hard hit with tax changes on luxury properties. The U.K.’s lack of resolution concerning Brexit and its anti-money laundering crackdown on cash deals from Russia and China have nearly muted demand for high-end homes. Discounts of nearly 35% have been enough to lure hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin into spending $122M for a mansion near Buckingham Palace.

Sydney, Australia’s most populous city, is taking the brunt of the country’s housing downturn. Nationally, home prices have been down more than 6% since its price peak in 2017 but in Sydney, home prices are down over 12%. On top of this worst slump in four decades, economists are predicting that home prices could drop an additional 8% in 2019. Policymakers have initiated “cool-down” regulations designed to restrict foreign investment and restrictions on banks from issuing interest-only loans but interest rates are at record lows and Australia’s economy is chugging along so who’s to say how long Sydney’s housing bargains will continue.

According to the broker Jones, Lang, La Salle, Inc., prime housing markets in Dubai are down 25% since its price peak in 2014. Those in the know are pointing to overly aggressive developers, not bankers or politicians, as the source of this problem. Dubai’s developers are planning on building a record 31,500 units in 2019, double the area’s annual demand during the last five years. JLL speculates that such an increase in supply could increase the risk of even further price drops.

Even Hong Kong, the world’s hottest housing market, has seen home prices fall nearly 10% since August 2018, just five months, according to Centa-City Leading Index by Centaline Property Agency Ltd. Jones, Lang, LaSalle Inc. warned last November 2018 that prices in Hong Kong could drop by 25% in 2019 if the US-China trade war worsens. Because Hong Kong’s monetary policy mirrors that of the US, borrowing costs for loans have increased as the US Federal Reserve has raised interest rates. Additionally, Hong Kong’s policymakers will soon imposed a vacancy tax on developers and investors who may have been hoarding empty units in hopes of getting better prices later when the market eventually turns around. The result of that impending vacancy tax? Investors are unloading, or at least trying to, all those empty units.









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