House prices in Hong Kong have risen at the fastest pace of any country in the world over the 12 months to March, according to a new global study.
Despite a raft of different cooling measures introduced by the Hong Kong Government since February 2013, prices rose by 19pc over the period due to a chronic shortage of homes.
Property values in Turkey accelerated by 18.6pc, the second biggest climber in the ranking, followed Ireland where house prices grew 16.8pc. Luxembourg and Estonia completed the top five, the new Knight Frank Global House Prices Index showed.
House price winners
The Government in Hong Kong began introducing cooling measures in February 2013 in order to prevent another house price bubble. Prospective homeowners are now being asked to find bigger down payments – 40pc of the price – in order to buy.
“The luxury end of the Hong Kong market has already started to cool with a more modest house rise of 5pc,” said Kate Everett-Allen, author of the report and residential research analyst at Knight Frank.
“However, a lack of supply along with the popularity of smaller apartments due to affordability constraints is behind the acceleration in the mainstream market.”
The report examined 56 countries with a sizeable property market and for which reliable house price data.
There are a number of factors driving growth in the top performing countries, Ms Everett-Allen said.
“Some countries are coming back from a very low base following the global financial crisis, such as Ireland and Estonia. However, the top 10 also includes some emerging economies whose growing strength is reflected in their housing markets, such as Turkey and Colombia.”
International demand and low interest rates have boosted house sales and prices in New Zealand and Australia, meaning that Australasia was the top performing region across the world with house price growth of 8.2pc last year.
House price losers
Seven of the top 10 countries by house price growth were in Europe, although the continent has polarised.
Cyprus, Greece, France and Italy were in the bottom 10 worst performing countries while Spain recorded their fastest growth since the global housing market crash of 2008.
Overall global house prices increased by just 0.3pc on average in the year to the end of March with major economies China, France and Japan all recording a fall in house prices over the period.
The average house price in China was pulled down by an over supply of new developments in second tier cities, although Nick Holt, head of the Asia practice at Knight Frank, said that looser monetary policy was helping prices recover in the major urban centres.
“France is still in a period of austerity but we’re starting to see a growing confidence that prices have now hit the floor in the luxury end of the market, which is seeing some upturn,” said Ms Everett-Allen. “But there is still weak buyer sentiment in the mainstream market, a lack of affordability and concern about the country’s economy holding back growth in the housing market.”
The Ukraine, in the throes of political instability, languished at the bottom of the table with a 15.5pc fall in house prices over the last 12 months. Property values in Greece fell 6.1pc.
The US featured in the middle of the table, reflecting some concerns that interest rate rises will come in sooner rather than later. The UK was ranked 19th with house price growth of 5.9pc over the year to the end of March.