Global housing market declines further

There is no end in sight to the global housing market downturn‚ except probably in the US‚ according to a survey of global house price trends by the Global Property Guide.

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.

Of the 39 countries for which quarterly house price figures are available‚ real house prices fell in 25 countries‚ rose in only 13‚ while one country (the US) posted mixed signals during the year ending in the second quarter of 2012.

Nominal figures can be misleading‚ as suggested by the fact that year on year (y/y) in the second quarter 2012‚ nominal house prices rose in more countries (21 countries) than fell (18 countries).

In SA‚ the real price index for medium-sized houses fell by 3.95% during the year to the second quarter 2012‚ the sixth consecutive quarter of real house price falls‚ according to ABSA.

SA’s housing market is expected to remain subdued‚ with a slowing economy and domestic social unrest.

Asia is weakening‚ and house price falls in the worst-hit European crisis countries are dramatically accelerating.

The US housing market seems to be recovering. The Federal Housing Finance Agency’s (FHFA) seasonally adjusted purchase-only house price index in the US rose 1.12% year on year (y/y)‚ in sharp contrast with the 8.76% y/y decline during the same period last year.

On the other hand‚ the S&P/Case-Shiller seasonally-adjusted home price index fell by 0.74%‚ but this was the lowest annual decline since the third quarter of 2010.

Europe was sinking deeper. There were alarming price-falls y/y in Ireland‚ Spain‚ Greece‚ Portugal and the Netherlands (each down more than 10% after inflation). Poland and Cyprus seem also to be slipping into the abyss.

In the worst-affected European countries‚ house price declines were significantly greater this year‚ than during the same period last year.

Ireland was again the world’s weakest housing market. Its residential property index plunged 16.85% y/y. Transaction volumes were low‚ and mortgage lending weak.

The next eight weakest housing markets in the world were all in Europe‚ including Spain (-13.18% during the year to the second quarter 2012)‚ Greece (-11.92%)‚ Portugal (-10.95%)‚ Netherlands (-10.12%)‚ Poland (-8.19%)‚ Cyprus (-7.68%)‚ the Slovak Republic (-5.61%) and Sweden (-4.18%). All except the Slovak Republic saw bigger house price falls this year‚ than the previous year.

The best performer in the Global Property Guide survey was Sao Paulo‚ Brazil‚ where housing prices surged by 15.56% during the year to the second quarter of 2012.

The strong performance can partly be attributed to recent stimulus measures by the government‚ and to the central bank’s rate cut to 8% in July 2012 (a great reduction from 12.5% last year). In addition‚ Brazil will host the Soccer World Cup in 2014‚ and the Olympics in 2016.

(I-Net Bridge)

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