Hong Kong property bubble risk
● Hong Kong is the city most at risk of a property bubble, according to a ranking from UBS Group.
Munich, Toronto, Vancouver, Amsterdam and London are the next most vulnerable in the bank’s Global Real Estate Bubble Index of 20 major centres for 2018.
Prices rising at an average of 35% in major cities over the past five years have contributed to a “crisis of affordability”, the bank said.
“Most households can no longer afford to buy property in the top financial centres without a substantial inheritance.”
Still, the risks are more contained than in the run-up to the global financial crisis, since mortgages are growing more slowly than during that period, and there’s no evidence of “simultaneous excesses” in lending and construction, the bank said.
Investors “should remain selective within housing markets in bubble-risk territory such as Hong Kong, Toronto, and London”, said Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management.
The first cracks in the global housing boom have appeared, the report said, citing price declines in four of the eight cities listed as bubble risks in 2017: Sydney, Stockholm, London and Toronto.
Tighter lending and interest-rate increases brought a price rally to an abrupt end in Sydney, the report said. The Australian city and Sweden’s capital both exited the “bubble risk” category.
Overall, prices in most of the 20 cities grew “considerably” less in the past four quarters than in previous years.
Hong Kong also topped the rankings for the number of years that a skilled service worker needs to work to be able to buy a 60m² apartment near the city centre. The 22 years required compared to 15 years in second-placed London.