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Monday Market Memo | Has Singapore reawakened?
December 18, 2017Article by Paul Avery
UK REGIONS PICK UP DESPITE LAGGING LONDON
The latest ONS data release for the year to October shows London entrenching its position as the weakest link in the UK residential market. Annual house price growth in the capital was 2.1%, compared with 7% in the East Midlands and 6% in Northern Ireland. As usual, the gentle pace of increase (4.5% nationally) obscures some spiky variation: Swale in Kent saw the largest increase at 15.5%, while Hartlepool was hit with a 6.1% decline.
MEGA MALL MERGERS
A flurry of deal making has beefed up two behemoths in the European retail sector. Unibail-Rodamco, Europe’s largest commercial property company, will buy Westfield Corp, an operator of 35 UK and US malls, for $16bn. This comes hot on the heels of a deal in which Hammerson (owner of the Brent Cross and Bullring shopping centres) offered £3.4bn for Intu (owner of Lakeside and others) to become the UK’s biggest property firm. The trend for consolidation is seen as a defensive response to the fierce rise of e-commerce.
Frothy city markets and amended zoning laws have conspired to unleash a new trend in US urban construction: alley homes. Space is at a premium in cities like Austin, Denver, and Washington D.C., so enterprising developers are increasingly cramming quirky homes into underused in-between plots. In spite of the bewildered neighbours, tight widths, and lack of registered addresses, alley homes are taking off – with one premium example near Capitol Hill just listed for $1.895m.
Property prices in Singapore are rising for the first time since its lengthy slump took hold in 2013. A barrage of stamp duty surcharges affecting foreign and second home buyers, flippers, and developers worked a little too well in its effort to cool the market. But deep-pocketed Chinese firms have recently been making record bids for redevelopment sites, providing well-needed stimulus and driving growth estimated at 3-5%. However, locals remain wary of anything remotely resembling the last bubble.
AUSTRALIA DEPRIVED OF CHINESE CASH
Long buttressed by Chinese investment, Australian city markets have started to wobble as Beijing’s capital controls hit home. In Sydney, where Chinese buyers account for nearly a quarter of all new-build purchases, home prices fell by 0.7% in November – the third consecutive month of decline following years of perky growth. Local buyers are being offered steep discounts on new properties as developers scramble to recoup retracted down payments.
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