Global growth in house prices stalls, with 0.3% rise

Hong Kong prices rose 19%, while Ukraine’s fell 15.5% for year to March

Global growth in house prices stalls, with 0.3% rise

The Knight Global House Price index recorded its weakest annual growth for three years, rising by just 0.3% in the year to March 2015.

Weighted by a country’s GDP, the index ensures countries such as China and the US have a greater influence than much smaller economies such as Jersey and Malta.

Around 75% of countries tracked by the index recorded flat or positive annual price growth in Q1 2015, three years earlier this figure was closer to 47.2%.

Kate Everett-Allen, from the research department of the global property consultancy, stressed: “With some of the larger economies such as Japan, France and crucially China all experiencing housing market slowdowns, this is masking the fact that overall we are seeing more sustainable growth amongst a larger number of countries.”

Hong Kong leads the annual rankings this quarter with mainstream prices ending the year nearly 19% higher in March. A lack of supply along with the popularity of smaller apartments due to affordability constraints is behind the acceleration in mainstream prices.

Russia and the CIS represent the index’s weakest-performing world region with prices down 2.3% year-on-year, Ukraine’s fall of 15.5% in annual terms having a significant bearing.

European countries which claimed almost exclusive rights to the bottom half of the rankings for several years are now more evenly spread with seven of the top ten countries now located in Europe.

Turkey (18.6%), Ireland (16.8%), Luxemburg (12.1%) and Estonia (11%) rank highest, all registering double-digit annual growth. Growth in the UK stood at 5.9% for the year to March – although price rises dropped 0.2% in the first quarter of 2015.

But a two-speed Europe is increasingly evident. Cyprus (-8.2%), Greece (-6.1%), France (-1.9%) and Italy (-2.9%) sit amongst the 10 weakest-performing markets, notable by their absence however are Spain (-0.3%) and Portugal (1.8%). Prices in Spain rose at their fastest rate in six years in the first quarter of this year (0.3%), due in part to improved mortgage lending.

Equity release is on the rise – but should you risk it?

Equity release, a way for over-55s to get cash out of their property without the need to move home, is becoming more mainstream, with an increasing number of deals and lower rates available. There are twice as many products on the market as two years ago, and competition has pushed rates down: the very lowest interest rates are now around the 2.5% mark

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