Canada-U.S. house price gap hits a record high

Monday, April 28th, 2014

For many years, the Canadian and U.S. housing markets tracked each other fairly closely, but that hasn’t been the case since the U.S. housing bubble burst in the middle years of the last decade.

According to an analysis from BMO chief economist Doug Porter, the difference between the two housing markets has never been greater, with average resale prices in Canada now 66 per cent higher than resale prices in the U.S.

The strength of Canadian home prices has surprised even optimistic observers. The latest data from the country’s real estate boards indicates resale prices (not including new builds) jumped six per cent in the past year, and the average price of an existing home in Canada has now pushed past $400,000.

That compares to an average price of around $250,000 in the U.S.

Comparisons like this are never as telling as they seem, because of differences in how average prices are measured, and because average prices say little about which way a housing market is headed.

And then of course there is the fluctuating exchange rate, but Porter notes that even after adjusting the numbers for exchange rate changes, Canada’s housing market is still about 50 per cent more expensive than the U.S.

“The main takeaway is that, contrary to all expectations, the Canadian housing market has just kept on rolling in 2014 even as the U.S. housing market has paused for breath (after a steep climb out of the dungeon),” Porter wrote in a client note last week.

But will it keep on rolling? The seemingly endless debate continues between those forecasting a Canadian housing bubble burst and those saying the market is healthy.

Yet with recent weakness in housing starts and building permits, some economists — such as BMO’s Sal Guatieri — have started to warn that a housing market correction could cause a recession.

Guatieri noted in a report earlier this month that Canada has become more reliant on real estate-related jobs than it has been in the past, making the economy more vulnerable to a correction.

But overall, the bank sees the odds of a serious housing market bust-out as being low.

All the same, a significant number of international investors have gone bearish on Canada’s housing market, predicting double-digit price collapses. Pimco, the trillion-dollar hedge fund run by billionaire Bill Gross, recently predicted a 30-per-cent collapse in house prices in Canada over the next few years, starting this year.

If Pimco’s prediction were right on the money, and nothing changed in the U.S. market, Canadian average resale prices would still be about a third higher in Canada than in the U.S. — even after the price crash.

Source: Daniel Tencer, Huffington Post Canada

Why is Vancouver’s real estate so expensive?

Saturday, April 26th, 2014

Vancouver has been ranked the second most expensive housing market in the world in a report on international housing costs, second only to Hong Kong.

The annual Demographia survey looked at 360 housing markets and divided median housing prices against median gross household incomes. Houses in Hong Kong cost 15 times local median incomes, while houses in Vancouver cost 10 times median incomes.

All of Canada’s major metropolitan centers fared badly in the report, ranked as extremely unaffordable with Vancouver the most costly.

According to Tsur Somerville, director of the University of British Columbia Center for Urban Economics and Real Estate, the reason for Vancouver’s skyrocketing housing prices is simple — demand is larger than supply.

“Vancouver is a lovely place with limited land and people from all over the world want to live here,” he told Xinhua. “If you have an attractive area, naturally you’ll get people willing to pay a higher price to live there, willing to pay higher rents to live there and relative to their incomes, and you’re going to get an affordability challenge.”

Local realtors are predicting the days of purchasing a detached house for Cdn $600,000 (US $543,500) are now over in Vancouver. Earlier this month, a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house on the east side of the city marked as the cheapest on the market was sold for Cdn $643,000 (US $582,500).

Somerville also pointed out that immigration to Vancouver, Canada’s Asian gateway, stands at about 30,000 people per year and the resulting demand for housing will likely keep prices high.

“But I think as long as we’re getting an inflow of about 30,000 to 35,000 people a year, coming to Vancouver as part of coming to Canada, that’s going to be able to support the house prices.”

His view was echoed by Ross McCredie, director and CEO of Canada’s Sotheby’s International Realty. Since the flare up of the international financial crisis in 2008, housing prices in Vancouver have remained high compared to other large cities around North America.

He attributes house price stability in this market to the steady inflow of immigrants and investors not common to many other major cities around the continent.

“But certainly the foreign buyers are also an important part of this market and if we didn’t have those foreign buyers our market would have been in significant trouble through 2008,” McCredie told Xinhua.

He noted Vancouver is one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in Canada with a good location and environment, which means that people will keep coming and will continue to buy-up the limited housing stock.

“Part of the problem with having a beautiful city, and a gateway, is that you have significant amount of demand from people who want to live here.”

Source: Fu Peng, Xinhua

Friday fun: Sleep with the fishes with this amazing aquarium bed!

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Love this! We’re always on the lookout for great new design ideas. They don’t get much better than this …

Forget a waterbed, the Aquarium Headboard by Las Vegas-based Acrylic Tank Manufacturing is where it’s at. This customized aquarium can hold up to 650-gallons of water and is the perfect way to upgrade your existing bedroom.

The massive aquarium is completely custom made to give your bedroom a one of a kind aquatic look, and can probably double as a swimming pool if you feel like swimming with your pets. Price? US$11,500.

For further information, check out Acrylic Tank Manufacturing.

Source: and

Want a piece of history? Walt Disney’s US$90-million estate is up for sale!

Friday, March 21st, 2014

A mega-mansion built on the former estate of Walt Disney has hit the market for a mind-numbing US$90 million. The Carolwood Estate rests on four acres in Beverly Hills and includes the tunnel Walt Disney built for his steam engine train.

Built in 2001 and owned by investor Gabriel Brener, the residence is located in the affluent neighbourhood of Beverly Glen in Los Angeles. And even in an area where the median house price is around $1.4 million, this property stands out in a big way.

First of all, it sits on the 3.7-acre estate that was the site of Walt Disney’s last home, which was dismantled in part because of an asbestos problem. The home built in its place is a whopping 35,000 square feet, with eight bedrooms and 17 bathrooms.

According to the listing, the mansion features a wine cellar, a custom movie room, three bars, a library, a gym and two safe rooms. On the home’s carefully manicured grounds, you’ll find a pool with a pool house, a tennis court, and a putting green.

Jay Harris and Mauricio Umansky of The Agency have the listing.

Source: Harris Effron, AOL Real Estate

Which are the world’s most expensive housing markets?

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

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

Where is the world’s top property hotspot?

Friday, March 7th, 2014

The UK and London are still the leading targets for UHNWIs (ultra-high net worth individuals), while property markets in some cities hammered by the global crash are now prospering and prices are generally rising around the world, according to the 2014 Wealth Report, from Knight Frank.

London retains its crown as the world’s leading global city for the world’s richest, followed by New York, and the two are set to remain there for at least a decade, according to the Knight Frank Global Cities Survey, which is part of the Wealth Report.

And at the same time, UHNWIs appear to be getting richer, with the highest optimism about the future among those in Europe and the Middle East.

But the fastest growing luxury residential property market is dominated by Asia Pacific destinations. Jakarta, Indonesia, has the highest annual home prices, rising 38% year-on-year. New Zealand has performed well, taking second place with Auckland, where values are up 29% and Christchurch in fourth at 21%. Bali is in third place, with a 22% increase, according to Knight Frank’s Prime International Residential Index.

In general, prices are rising, and some locations that suffered most in the global market crash are performing particularly well.

Liam Bailey, Head of Global Research at Knight Frank, says, “Continued global wealth creation, particularly in emerging markets, has been a key driver for prime property markets. This trend looks set to continue with a forecast increase of 28% in the total number of UHNWIs around the world by 2023.

“One of the most significant changes from a year ago is the general trend towards increasing prices. In 2013, values fell in 39% of the locations featured, compared with almost 50% in 2012. Last year there was double-digit growth in 20% of markets. In 2012 this level of price rise occurred in just 15%.

“Cities in Asia-Pacific have, by and large, performed particularly strongly, although government cooling measures have pulled back growth in Singapore and Hong Kong.

“Another trend is the strong rebound of some of the markets like, Dubai (+17%), Madrid (+5%) and Dublin (+17.5%), that were hit hard by the global financial crisis.”

Shifts in wealth distribution contribute to changing fortunes in our Global Cities Survey, which measures the most important cities to the world’s UHNWI community.

Three-quarters of the 600 or so private bankers or wealth advisors representing around 23,000 UHNWI clients across the world questioned for the survey say the net worth of their clients increased in 2013 and around two-thirds (65%) say their clients are positive about their wealth creation prospects in 2014.

On average, 28% of the net worth of an Ultra High Net Worth Individual comes from the person’s main property and the 2.4 second homes they each own, on average.

Just over a fifth of UHNWIs are considering buying another home in 2014, while 15% are thinking about permanently changing their domicile of country of residence. Quality of life was cited as the main reason for wanting to make a move and the UK is the country people are most likely to head to.

Almost a quarter of UHNWI investment portfolios is accounted for by property and it is growing in popularity. Just over 40% of survey respondents say their clients increased their allocation to property in 2013 and 47% expect it to increase further in 2014. Residential property was the most popular area to invest in (54%), followed by commercial premises (34%) and agricultural land and forestry (12%).

Investors are now showing more of an appetite for risk, says the report. The withdrawal of stimulus measures such as quantitative easing may be one catalyst, but so is rising economic confidence, especially in North America and Europe.

“Investment decisions are destined to take on an increasingly adventurous flavour; and recovering European property markets, which were firmly off the radar two years ago, are seen by many as a key opportunity for this year and next.

The top six nations in the 2014 Global Cities Survey are the same as in 2013. The full top 10 list is: 1. London, 2. New York, 3. Singapore, 4. Hong Kong, 5. Geneva, 6. Shanghai, 7. Miami, 8. Dubai, 9. Beijing, 10. Paris.

But Knight Frank also lists the five fastest growing city hotspots, which feature Middle East and Latin American destinations. They are: 1. Sao Paulo, 2. Istanbul, 3. Abu Dhabi, 4. Mumbai and 5. Sydney.

“The number of centamillionaires – those with US$100m in net assets – has risen by 62%, while the tally of billionaires has climbed by 80% to 1,682, according to WealthInsight, a leading wealth intelligence firm, which has supplied data for the report.

Source: Adrian Bishop, Editor, OPP Connect

Dubai to Vancouver in 1.5 hours? The super rich may use space travel to expand property portfolios

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

The world’s wealthiest may look at expanding their real estate portfolio as they may use sub-orbital space travel to reduce travel time, believes Knight Frank.

More than 70 wealthy individuals, with a combined wealth of over $200 billion, are investing in space research projects, which includes asteroid mining to sub-orbital space travel, the global real estate consultancy said ahead of the March 5 release of its Wealth Report 2014.

“By travelling outside the Earth’s atmosphere, gravitational forces will allow spacecraft to travel at over 4,000 miles per hour, so breakfast in Mayfair could easily be followed by lunch overlooking Sydney Opera House,” says Knight Frank’s Head of Research Liam Bailey.

The consultancy believes that space travel will have impact on global luxury property markets, with ultra high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) will grow their luxury property portfolio.

Though the Wealth Report’s Global Cities Survey confirms, London currently wins over New York as a global wealth hub because it is more convenient for African, Middle Eastern, Russian and European UHNWIs.

But this convenience premium could be noticeably reduced if Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic succeeds in making his vision for sub-orbital travel a reality.

Transcontinental travel – London to Sydney – a distance of 10,553 miles will be completed in 2.2 hours from the current 21 hours. Dubai to Vancouver, a distance of 7285 miles that currently takes a flight time of 14.5 hours, will be cut short to just 1.5 hours, says Knight Frank.

Talking to The Wealth Report, entrepreneur Richard Branson said: “New commercial space will be one of the most exciting investment sectors in the next 20 years, driven by the initial successes of companies like Virgin Galactic.

“There is already some good evidence that the leading players are receiving high levels of interest from the mainstream investment community and attracting valuations that reflect confidence in future growth and opportunity.”

In 2013, Virgin Galactic spokesperson told Emirates 24|7 that it expects thousands will take the suborbital spaceflight from Abu Dhabi.

“If approved, Virgin Galactic intends for the UAE spaceport to be the first international commercial spaceport, contingent on US regulatory approvals. The UAE spaceport will be a very desirable destination attracting people from all over the world to experience the unique view of earth from above the UAE,” a spokesperson said.

Currently, over 600 people from more than 50 countries have placed reservations. Celebs including Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Ashton Kutcher are among those said to have bought $200,000 tickets.

Ticket price will play a critical role in defining the impact on real estate.

“If this is a technology for billionaires only, then property market disruption might be limited to a wider choice of global lunch options. But if the price drops to allow the merely very wealthy to access sub-orbital flights, then every assumption about current property prices will have to be reconsidered,” Bailey said.

Knight Frank has rated Dubai among the most sought after real estate destination in the world. In 2013, over 140 foreign nationalities, which includes Americans, Canadians and Europeans, invested Dh116 billion in the Dubai real estate market.

Source: Parag Deulgaonkar, Emirates 24/7 News

Millionaires see real estate as top investment for 2014

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

U.S. millionaires see real estate as the top alternative-asset class to own this year, according to Morgan Stanley.

About 77 percent of investors with at least $1 million in assets own real estate, according to a survey released today by the New York-based investment bank’s wealth-management unit. Direct ownership of residential and commercial properties was the No. 1 alternative-investment pick for 2014, with a third of millionaires surveyed saying they plan to buy this year. Twenty-three percent said they expect to invest in real estate investment trusts, the second-most popular choice.

Wealthy investors are turning to a rebounding real estate market as fixed-income yields remain historically low and equities surge. U.S. commercial-property values rose 8 percent in the 12 months ended Jan. 31, and have jumped 71 percent since hitting their post-recession bottom in 2009, research firm Green Street Advisors Inc. reported today. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of home prices in 20 cities is up 24 percent from its 2012 low.

“After a year where the Standard & Poor’s Index rose 30 percent, some millionaires are moving money out of traditional, long-term strategies and turning toward alternatives such as real estate and private equity,” said Gary Kaminsky, a vice chairman at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in New York. “Sophisticated, high-net-worth investors are much more concerned about losses.”

Wealthy investors see stocks getting expensive and interest rates staying stable or even declining over the next couple of years, Kaminsky said in an interview at a conference for Tiger 21 investors last week in Scottsdale, Arizona. That’s why they are looking more closely at alternatives including real estate for returns and income, he said.

Source: Margaret Collins and David M. Levitt, Bloomberg

How to make a vacation or investment condo work for you

Sunday, January 19th, 2014

While condo units are often used as primary homes, they can also be investments or vacation spots. This recent article by Marilyn Wilson in the Ottawa Citizen explores the uses for the extra condo, by which I mean a unit that is not your primary residence, but rather one that has a secondary function.

The Custom Condo

Many people move from larger homes to condos as a way of changing their lifestyles. Perhaps they intend to downsize or simply want to forgo shovelling snow. They may even want to travel more often and keep a condo to make this an easier feat.

Buyers shopping in new developments may choose to purchase two units and combine them to expand their square footage. This is a possible custom upgrade when purchasing a condo in a future development — like opting for granite over linoleum, but on a larger scale.

If you are looking at the penthouse, you can also find out if the developer can increase the size vertically in addition to horizontally by increasing your ceiling height. Such are the advantages of purchasing a pre-construction condo.

The Part-Time Condo

A lot of people choose to move or travel more after their children have left the roost. It’s a given that condo living can make travelling easier, as you may have a concierge to check on your unit and retrieve your mail. You will also not have to clear a front path in absentia. For these reasons, condo living is especially useful if you intend to spend winters in a warmer climate. It enables you to keep a low maintenance space where you can leave your things out and ready for your return.

Of course, someone in this situation can also purchase a time share; however, this necessities storing things when out of town, adding expense and hassle.

Another option is to purchase a room in a condo hotel suite. This means owning a hotel room that you yourself can use, usually for a limited time throughout the year. These are not usually offered as primary residences, but have the added advantage of hotel amenities, such as room service.

Keeping a part-time condo can also be especially useful if you plan on returning to a destination again and again. In a sense, it becomes your “cottage” or second dwelling. For example, I have clients who recently moved abroad but are interested in keeping a condo in Ottawa. This is simply because they know they will return often to visit friends here. This is also a popular choice for people who have children or grandchildren in another city.

When determining if you should purchase a condo as a second residence, consider the costs of hotels and — if you plan to rent a car or bring your own — public parking.

The Investment Condo

Perhaps you are interested in downsizing at a later date or simply want an investment with a monthly payout (through rental income). If so, then the investment condo may be a wise decision for you.

If you intend to move to a certain city but have not spent a ton of time living there as a local, you might consider purchasing a second home there rather than going all out with a pricey and disruptive move. To make a decision this big, you may want to spend time living as a local before you plan your move. Day-to-day life in any city is different from visiting as a tourist. To make this more equitable in the short term, you can rent out the unit by week (as a vacation rental) or with a long-term lease. Naturally, you can also do this with a condo unit closer to home.

One of my friends knows she and her husband will ultimately retire to Toronto. They are from there and one of their children is now enrolled at the University of Toronto. As a result, they decided to forgo paying monthly rent for their son by instead purchasing their dream condo now and having him live there.

Their son is therefore living in a well-built condo in a safe neighbourhood, and his parents have a place to stay when they visit. For this family, purchasing their condo was a way of investing in their future.

Whether your condo is your primary residence or a second home, it can bring you into an easier, more convenient way of living or travelling. Map out the condo scene in Canada and beyond using these creative ways of incorporating the condo lifestyle into your life.

Where is the world’s most popular luxury property destination?

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

The world’s most sought-after luxury property destination is Côte d’Azur, France, according to a new report.

Prime property in Costa Smeralda, Italy, and St Barts, in the Caribbean, are the next exclusive property hotspots for ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs), says the Candy GPS report.

“For summer sun, the Côte d’Azur is the world’s most expensive, and desirable, luxury leisure enclave. Easily accessible from Nice and Monaco, its exclusivity, as well as the warm climate, ensures that it remains a firm favourite with UHNWIs.

“Properties here are very carefully designed to maximise privacy and sometimes have a private beach. This is increasingly sought after as parts of the wider area become increasingly commercialised and urbanised,” says report author, Yolande Barnes, Director of Savills World Research.

The newly-published report focuses on the global luxury leisure market also lists more “local” leisure enclaves that are driven by domestic wealth and looks at the potential complexities of buying abroad in terms of cultural differences, legal and tax systems and financing.

A typical five-bed home in Côte d’Azur, France, costs around US$28.5million. Costa Smeralda property fetches around US$11.5million on average and St Barts homes are U$14million, the Prime Home Index states.

The Global Prime Sector’s top residential enclaves are ranked by global reach, real estate values, exclusivity and luxury tourism measured by the highest price for a luxury hotel suite.

The top 10 then features Aspen USA (US$13million), Monaco, (US$24million), Barbados (US$23million), St Moritz, Switzerland, (US$8.5million), Seychelles (US$8million) and Maldives (US$6million).

Much of the wealth is driven by Russian wealth, the report states. “The participation of this nationality in additional home buying is an extension of their “dacha” culture back home.

“Rich Muscovites have, over the centuries, owned both a city home and a country house, or dacha. This has been easily translated into the ownership of other status-enhancing properties across the globe.

“Modern Russian wealth flows primarily into the Mediterranean, the South of France, Italy and, increasingly, to emerging destinations in the Eastern Med such as Montenegro. Russian buyers are also particularly active in the United States and Caribbean.” says Yolande Barnes.

Middle Eastern buyers are also prominent group among prime home purchasers in leading leisure destinations. “Not surprisingly, they are already the dominant buyer group in Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s leisure developments, but they are also to be found in the key luxury Mediterranean resorts, and have been high profile investors in Marbella and the Costa Smeralda, or Emerald Coast, of Sardinia.”

Asia buyers play less of a key role. “Asia, in spite of having an UHNWI population of 43,000 individuals, does not have a culture where additional home ownership in leisure destinations is usual.

“The majority of homebuying activity in the Asia-Pacific enclaves such as Phuket and Bali, for example, has been by expats. Sun, sea and sand, for example, are less highly valued and real estate purchases are singularly concentrated in urban centres, rather than the countryside or seaside.

“Many of the newly wealthy in China view the countryside as inferior to urban environments. Some Chinese buyers have discovered the joy of vineyard ownership or skiing, but these remain in a minority compared to those preferring to buy into infrastructure projects, agricultural land or income-producing real estate investments in more rural areas.”

The Candy GPS Report is produced in partnership with Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management and with exclusive research from Savills.

Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management adds, “Buying a second home can be a mix of heart and head, prompted by a few fantastic weeks spent immersed in local wine, food, and culture. But alongside the romance there is an often complex reality: cultural nuances, tax systems, due diligence, and financing.”

It points out that investors from the East and the West often have different attitudes about overseas property investment.

“The Côte d’Azur and Alps have been playgrounds of the wealthy for over a century; however, many of the emerging wealthy in Asia and the Middle East have entirely different approaches to leisure time.

“Wealthy individuals in China have often built up their wealth, run operational businesses, and take very few holidays; when they do travel for pleasure their preference is often to explore cultural centres like London or Paris. Sun holidays are often an alien concept to people living in hot climates.

“These cultural differences don’t only impact leisure preferences. There is also a correlation between culture and investment return expectations. Clients buying in traditional holiday destinations are often less concerned with the liquidity of the market and costs associated with ownership.”

Source: OPP News

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