Prime property – expensive flats in prestigious bits of cities – is all the rage. Not as somewhere to live, you understand (do me a favour), but as an asset class. Posh flats are an increasingly popular place for the rich to stash their money.
But which city, we hear you cry, has the fastest growing prime property prices? Where, CityMetric’s well-heeled readers demand to know, should we put our money?
One might think, from all the talk of rich Russian oligarchs buying up chunks of Mayfair, that the answer would be London. One would be wrong. According to Knight Frank, in the year to June, prime property prices in London rose by a measly 8.1 per cent: in the ranking of 32 cities accompanying the research, the British capital barely scraped the top 10.
You’d be much better investing your riches in New York, which ranked 3rd, with prices up by 18.4 per cent. Even better would be Dublin, which ranked 2nd, after prices rose by 23.5 per cent in a year. (Investing money in the Dublin housing market has always been a good idea in the past.)
Topping the charts, though, is Jakarta, pictured above. The Indonesian capital may not spring to mind as a luxury destination. In the last year, though, the cost of its prime property – that is, the top 5 per cent of its real estate market – has risen by 27.3 per cent. Here’s the full ranking.
So what’s driving this vertiginous climb? Liam Bailey, Knight Frank’s head of residential research, identifies the usual culprits: “very strong demand” and “limited supply”. This is fantastic for investors who own Jakarta apartments, but it’s not so great for the locals.
So unsurprisingly the authorities have been attempting to slow things down. In September 2013, Bank Indonesia passed a regulation reducing the maximum loan-to-value ratios on investment properties. That required buyers to pay deposits of at least 40 per cent on second properties, and 50 per cent on any beyond that.
Such measures have been known to work. Singapore has been gradually reducing loan-to-value ratios to cool its own property market for the last five years. In 2013, it also introduced an additional 15 per cent stamp duty for foreign buyers who already own homes.
As a result, the luxury market – many of whose occupants are covered by these criteria – hasn’t seen significant growth since mid-2010. This year, prices fell by 7.7 per cent, placing it at the very bottom of Knight Frank’s ranking.
Here’s a chart comparing prime property prices in Singapore with those in other major Asian cities:
So, it is possible to calm a property market down – but you have to really want to do it. Beijing introduced its own cooling measures in 2013 – but they were swiftly rolled back again, after prices fell rather quicker than the central government had hoped. The US-based National Interest magazine accused the city of having a “housing addiction”.
As ever, there’s a tension between the need to stop the market from turning into a bubble – and the benefits high property prices can offer to their powerful owners.