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Malta edges Hong Kong for world's top home-price gains

Prices in the June quarter increase 17%, generated by a dearth of supply and a robust economy

Singapore/Hong Kong

MALTA has edged out Hong Kong to take the prize for territory or country with the highest residential price gains in the June quarter, according to a Knight Frank Global House Price Index published on Friday.

Home prices in the tiny Mediterranean island rose 17 per cent in the three months to June from a year earlier, Knight Frank said, citing data from the nation's central bank. A dearth of supply combined with a robust economy that grew 6.6 per cent last year and a buoyant tech industry is pushing up demand.

Hong Kong, the world's least-affordable housing market, came in second, with price increases of 16 per cent.

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It's led the index's rankings on 10 occasions since 2009 but is expected to cool in coming months as a result of rising interest rates, Knight Frank said. Along with Singapore and New Zealand, the former British colony has seen fresh property market cooling measures introduced over the past three months.

"Uncertainties resulting from the trade war and potential mortgage-rate hikes are adding downward pressure on prices" in Hong Kong, Alva To, vice president for greater China at Cushman & Wakefield, said at a media briefing on Thursday. Cushman & Wakefield expects a correction in Hong Kong's property market in 2019, adding to comments from private-equity firm Gaw Capital Partners to CLSA that prices may drop as much as 15 per cent.

Rounding out the top five spots are Latvia, Slovenia and Hungary, which all registered double-digit price growth.

At the other end of the spectrum are Ukraine, Peru and Saudi Arabia, where residential prices in the June quarter dropped 4.5 per cent, 1.6 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively.

Knight Frank's Global House Price Index tracks mainstream residential prices across 57 countries and territories. BLOOMBERG

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