Which are the world’s most expensive housing markets?

Economists continue to watch Canada’s housing market. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the average house price climbed to $388,553 in January, which is 9.5 per cent higher than it was last year. But how do Canadian cities compare to the rest of the world when it comes to the affordability of housing?

The rankings below are based on a city’s ‘Median Multiple,’ which looks at the median cost of a house compared to the city’s median household income in the third quarter of 2013.

10. London, U.K.

Median multiple: 7.3

International investment in London’s housing market has driven housing prices up and made it less affordable for moderate and low-income households. London’s median multiple puts its housing market into severely unaffordable territory; the median price of a home is 326,000 pounds ($546,310), while median household income is 44,800 pounds ($75,076), as of 2013. The good news is that the city’s median multiple dropped from 7.8 in 2012. London has the most unaffordable real estate market in the United Kingdom. The U.K. has a median multiple of 4.9, which is a slight improvement from last year’s 5.1 rating.

London’s overheated housing market has contributed to rising home prices in the U.K., which is expected to jump by seven per cent this year, according to Reuters.

9. Los Angeles, Calif.

Median multiple: 7.7

Los Angeles’ housing market, along with other cities in California, is causing concern; the median multiple has risen at more than three times the national rate since 2009. In December 2013, Los Angeles’ house prices increased a whopping 20.3 per cent from the year before. A recent study by RealtyTrac found that it would be cheaper to rent rather than buy a three-bedroom property in Los Angeles. According to the Demographia study, Los Angeles’ real estate is considered to be severely unaffordable and the city has made land use regulation more restrictive. The City of Angels is the fourth most unaffordable housing market in the U.S. with a median house price of $448,900 and a median household income of $58,300 in 2013.

8. San Diego, Calif.

Median multiple: 7.9

San Diego is another California city where foreign investment is driving up the city’s real estate prices. The median house price in the latter part of 2013 was $485,000, while the city’s median household income was $61,500. In just one year, from December 2012 to the same month in 2013, the value of San Diego homes increased by 18 per cent. While home supply remains at an historic low, Michael Lea, a real estate professor at San Diego State, expects that house appreciation will slow down to single digit increases in the next few months.

7. Auckland, New Zealand

Median multiple: 8.0

Houses in Auckland were less affordable in 2013 than the year before (its median multiple increased to eight from 2012’s 6.7 score). The city has been ranked severely unaffordable for all 10 years of the Demographia housing survey. The median house price in Auckland is $561,700 AUD ($506,990), with residents earning a median household income of $70,600 AUD ($63,724). Auckland saw a dip in home prices in January, but it’s predicted that the city’s housing market will be active during the first quarter of 2014. High housing prices in the city are also raising prices in the suburbs.

6. Melbourne, Australia

Median multiple: 8.4

Melbourne’s housing affordability has deteriorated — its median multiple increased by 0.9 points from last year. Housing in Melbourne, along with other major markets in Australia, has been severely unaffordable since the Demographia housing survey’s inception. In 2013, Melbourne’s median house price was $595,500 AUD ($537,498), while its median household income was $70,800 AUD ($63,904). Melbourne’s house prices rose by 3.2 per cent in January with the median price of a residential property reaching $553,000 AUD ($493,829), according to the Sydney Morning Herald. It’s expected that there will be a slowdown in Melbourne’s house prices due to higher levels of housing supply and deteriorating affordability.

5. San Jose, Calif.

Median multiple: 8.7

Yet another Californian city where housing affordability has deteriorated from the year before, San Jose’s median multiple was 7.9 in 2012. In the latter half of 2013, the median house price for a property in San Jose was $805,000, with residents in the city earning a median household income of $92,400. San Jose is among 11 California cities that have been deemed unaffordable. San Jose’s housing market will continue to perform well in 2014, according to the Urban Land Institute’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2014 survey. It’s expected that increased jobs and wages in this area will contribute to higher demand for property.

4. Sydney, Australia

Median multiple: 9.0

Sydney is home to the most unaffordable housing market in Australia and affordability continues to worsen. The median multiple rose from 8.3 last year to this year’s 9.0. The median price of a home in 2013 was $722,700 AUD ($652,309) with households earning a median income of $80,500 AUD ($72,659). Sydney has been deemed severely unaffordable for the last decade. While an American economist has predicted that Australia’s housing market will see a 50 per cent drop in values, Canada’s recent decision to axe the Immigrant Investor Program could drive more foreign investors to the Land Down Under, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. Foreign investors are one of the reasons cited for the rapid rise in housing prices.

3. San Francisco, Calif.

Median multiple: 9.2

San Francisco is considered to be the most unaffordable city in the United States, where an average school teacher is unable to afford property in the city, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. In 2013, the median household price for a home was $705,000 and the median household income was $76,300. Affordability has worsened since last year’s survey when the median multiple was 7.8. Within the last 10 years, 75,000 new people have made San Francisco their home, but only 17,000 new residential units were built, according to The New York Times. Over the next 25 years, 150,000 more people are expected to move into the city. With a large influx of well-paid Silicon Valley workers, the costs of real estate and rent have risen to new heights. And prices are unlikely to drop soon; San Francisco has been voted the top housing market expected to perform well in 2014, according to the Urban Land Institute’s Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2014 survey.

2. Vancouver, B.C.

Median multiple: 10.3

Vancouver’s affordability has worsened over the last year; the city’s median multiple is now in the double digit range, rising from 9.5 last year. This is the sixth year that Vancouver’s housing market has placed within the top three unaffordable housing markets in the world. In 2013, the median price of a house was C$670,300 and the median household income was C$65,000. In February, Vancouver broke a real estate record with the average cost of a detached house climbing to C$1,361,023, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. But some Vancouver real estate agents are expecting housing values to drop with the federal government’s recent decision to scrap the Immigrant Investor Program.

1. Hong Kong

Median multiple: 14.9

Hong Kong has the most unaffordable housing market in the world. Residents of the island buy the smallest houses for the least affordable prices; in 2013, the median price of a home was $4,024,000 HKD ($518,496) and residents earning a median household income of $270,000 HKD ($34,790). This is the fourth year that Hong Kong has claimed the top spot — housing affordability has worsened from last year’s 13.5 median multiple score. Since 2008, the price of real estate in Hong Kong has increased by 120 per cent, according to Reuters. But government policy to double a levy on properties worth more than $2 million HKD may successfully cool the market with prices dropping by 4.5 per cent since last March’s peak price, according to the South China Morning Post. It’s expected that developers will need to undergo steep competition to attract homebuyers this year, which could result in cheaper prices for property shoppers.

Source: Josephine Lim, MSN Money

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