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Europe in eye of property storm

Good news
The US housing market recovery continues. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) seasonally-adjusted purchase-only house price index rose by 2.31% year-on-year in Q3 2012, the highest growth seen since Q2 2006. The nationwide seasonally-adjusted S&P/Case-Shiller home price index also rose by 1.92% during the year to Q3 2012, in sharp contrast with its 7% year-on-year decline seen in Q3 2011.

Dubai, UAE, has rebounded strongly.The price index for all residential properties surged by 14.43% during the year to end-Q3 2012, as compared to a meagre year-on-year increase of 0.96% seen in the same period last year.

Pacific housing markets are now recovering.New Zealand’s median house price rose by 5.19% during the year to end-Q3 2012, in sharp contrast with the 4.39% year-on-year decline in Q3 2011. Likewise, Australia’s housing market is also improving, with house prices in its eight major cities falling by just 1.57% year-on-year in Q3 2012, the lowest decline since Q4 2010.

Positive news for some individual European housing markets.House price falls in Ireland may be decelerating. Ireland’s residential property price index fell by 13.17% year-on-year in Q3 2012, the lowest decline since Q1 2011. In addition, house prices have risen significantly in Austria, Turkey, Latvia, Germany, Iceland and Finland.

Bad news:
Many European housing markets remain extremely depressed, and continue their rapid spiral downwards. House price falls are accelerating in Greece, Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Croatia and Lithuania. Of the 23 European countries included in the survey, 14 countries recorded house price falls while only 9 countries have seen house price increases. The nine weakest housing markets in our global survey are all in Europe.

The Asian housing market surge has weakened.Seven of the 10 Asian housing markets included in our survey performed more poorly this year than the previous year. But Asia’s biggest housing market, China, is recovering, judging by the latest quarter’s figures.

In inflation-adjusted terms, 23 housing markets have shown better year-on-year figures in Q3 2012 than in the same period last year, while 20 housing markets have shown poorer performance. However the nominal figures are slightly more disappointing – 25 housing markets performed more poorly while only 19 performed better.

Of the 44 countries for which quarterly house price figures are available, house prices fell in 23 countries, and rose in 21 countries during the year ending in the third quarter of 2012, again in inflation-adjusted terms. 

The Global Property Guide’s statistical presentation uses price changes after inflation, giving a more realistic picture than the more upbeat nominal figures usually preferred by real estate agents. Nominal figures can be misleading, as suggested by the fact that year-on-year in Q3, nominal house prices rose in more countries (27 countries) than fell (17 countries).

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