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International Realty News & Trends

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  • Re : International Realty News & Trends

    House prices in UK rise by 7.6% in November: Halifax

    House prices in November were 7.6% higher than a year earlier, a slightly faster increase than October's 7.5% annual rise and the biggest increase since June 2016, just before Britain voted to leave the European Union.
    • Reuters
    • December 07, 2020, 18:46 IST

    LONDON: British house prices showed their biggest annual rise since June 2016 last month, as people sought to move into bigger houses following the COVID lockdown earlier this year, mortgage lender Halifax said on Monday.

    House prices in November were 7.6% higher than a year earlier, a slightly faster increase than October's 7.5% annual rise and the biggest increase since June 2016, just before Britain voted to leave the European Union.

    Halifax said it did not expect the recent pace of price increases to last as the economic outlook was likely to remain challenging, even with the roll-out of coronavirus vaccines.

    "With unemployment predicted to peak around the middle of next year, and the UK's economy not expected to fully recover the ground lost over 2020 for a number of years, a slowdown in housing market activity is likely over the next 12 months," Halifax managing director Russell Galley said.

    Halifax said house prices rose by 1.2% in November alone, compared with a 0.9% increase in October, and that they had risen by 6.5% over the past five months, the most since 2004.

    The Bank of England said last week that lenders approved the greatest number of mortgages in 13 years in October, and another mortgage lender, Nationwide, reported the biggest rise in prices in nearly six years at 6.5% for November.










    House prices in UK rise by 7.6% in November: Halifax, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)


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    • Re : International Realty News & Trends

      New Zealand's central bank says monetary policy not best way to cool housing market

      NEWZEALAND-ECONOMY/HOUSING (UPDATE 2)UPDATE 2-NZ central bank says monetary policy not best way to cool housing market
      • Reuters
      • December 11, 2020, 19:00 IST

      WELLINGTON: New Zealand's central bank on Friday rebuffed a government call for it to add house prices to its monetary policy remit, despite growing concerns about a property market bubble.

      Finance Minister Grant Robertson last month asked the bank to step in to help rein in a surge in home prices driven by record low interest rates and fiscal stimulus to support the pandemic-hit economy.

      However, Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) Governor Adrian Orr warned the proposal could have negative trade-offs, particularly on the government's aims of housing New Zealanders, and reducing inequality.

      "Adding house prices to the monetary policy objective would be unique internationally, which could make monetary policy less effective and impact financial market efficiency...," Orr added in a response to Robertson, which was made public on Friday.

      Targeting higher interest rates to cool housing would lead to lower employment, which most affects those at the margins of the labour market like Maori, Pasifika, women and youth, he said.

      Other trade-offs could be a higher New Zealand dollar exchange rate and lower growth in housing supply.

      Finance Minister Robertson said he would consider Governor Orr's response and "make announcements" in the New Year.

      Government levers

      The RBNZ this year cut interest rates to record lows, eased mortgage lending curbs and pumped NZ$100 billion ($70.4 billion) into a quantitative easing programme to boost the economy.

      The moves fueled an unprecedented housing market boom, wrong-footing many economists who had expected a slowdown after years of rising prices. Median house prices have risen by double digits in the last few months, following a 90% hike in the past decade.

      Orr said the bank would prefer an amendment to its financial policy remit if the government wanted to strengthen its influence on house prices.

      "Adding a housing consideration to the financial policy remit could lead to policies that are more effective at supporting the government's housing objectives, with lesser concern for policy trade-offs," he said.

      Orr noted the government already had a wide range of levers at its disposal. He proposed using debt-to-income (DTI) limits, which would limit borrowing relative to income, although he warned this could disadvantage lower income households.











      Reserve Bank of New Zealand: New Zealand's central bank says monetary policy not best way to cool housing market, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)
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      • Re : International Realty News & Trends

        Dubai's Emaar appoints Jamal Bin Theniyah as the new chairman

        The decision, communicated in a bourse filing, was taken to comply with regulations that prohibit combining the position of chairman of the board and any executive position, Emaar said.
        • Reuters
        • December 13, 2020, 11:59 IST

        DUBAI: Dubai's largest listed developer Emaar Properties has named Mohamed Alabbar, founder of the company and previously chairman of the board of directors, as managing director, and appointed Jamal Bin Theniyah as the new chairman.

        The decision, communicated in a bourse filing, was taken to comply with regulations that prohibit combining the position of chairman of the board and any executive position, Emaar said.

        The board also decided to elect Ahmed Jawa as vice-chairman.

        Emaar Properties has halted new building work after a construction boom in recent years led to oversupply in the Gulf city, Alabbar said last week.

        Dubai's real estate market, where supply has outstripped demand for much of the past decade, has come under additional pressure this year from the coronavirus crisis.









        Emaar Properties: Dubai's Emaar appoints Jamal Bin Theniyah as the new chairman, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)
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        • Re : International Realty News & Trends

          Sweden aims to plug housing gap by converting empty stores and offices

          The government is now examining whether empty commercial real estate in the wake of COVID-19 could be converted to help plug a shortfall of around 140,000 homes.
          • Reuters
          • Updated: December 23, 2020, 17:53 IST

          File photo

          STOCKHOLM: Sweden may have too many shops and offices after the pandemic. It doesn't have enough homes. It spies an opportunity.

          A seismic shift towards online shopping and working from home has been painful for many businesses, but has given the Nordic nation the chance to address an intractable social and economic ill: a chronic housing shortage.

          The government is now examining whether empty commercial real estate in the wake of COVID-19 could be converted to help plug a shortfall of around 140,000 homes.

          The plans are one example of how countries are looking ahead to rebuild, in a new reality spawned by a pandemic that has exacted a huge human and economic toll and reshaped behaviour.

          The housing market has long been the Achilles' heel of the Swedish economy.

          Complex regulations make construction costs among Europe's highest. Mortgage tax relief, zero property tax and a highly regulated rental market have driven up prices for homebuyers and sent household debt levels through the roof, with the central bank regularly warning of a risk to economic stability.

          Boosting the pace of conversions from commercial to residential property could help ease the pressure, a drive that could potentially be replicated in other countries with housing shortages in some areas, including Britain and the Netherlands.

          Sweden's National Board of Housing, a state agency, has been tasked with simplifying the country's complex building rules to help the property conversion plans and will report to government officials at the end of February.

          "The corona pandemic has meant that all the more sectors are considering making distance and work-at-home solutions permanent, which may mean that there are properties ... that can instead be used for housing," Deputy Finance Minister Per Bolund said.

          Shrinking offices

          Repurposing real estate is nothing new - think of New York's Meatpacking District which went from a residential area in the 1800s to an industrial hub a century later and back again to a chic residential and shopping area over the last 20 years.

          But the pandemic has given fresh impetus to the idea.

          Around a fifth of Sweden's 5 million workers are likely to stay at home after the pandemic eases, according to a study by the European Institute for Behavioural Analysis and the universities of Gothenburg and Lund, meaning many companies will need smaller offices.

          "We are not going to go back to the situation we had before the pandemic, so it is not sensible to rent as big an office space as we had originally intended," said Helen Stoye, the deputy director general of Sweden's Statistics Office, which recently signed a deal for new premises.

          The new office will have 200 fewer desks and its total area will be 7,900 square meters, down from almost 15,000 currently.

          Stoye acknowledged her organisation - like many others - had previously frowned on working from home.

          "But during the pandemic we have seen that working from home functions really, really well," she added.

          Ailing high street

          With footfall in city centres down, many shops are also being shuttered, while online players like Amazon - which launched a Swedish website earlier this year - are taking a bigger share of shoppers' cash.

          PostNord, the Swedish postal service, reckons online revenues in the retail sector will be up around 40% this year.

          "The pandemic has only accelerated the effect of e-commerce," said Mikael Soderlundh, head of research at property advisers Pangea. "It is going to very hard for many physical shops going forward."

          With demand for commercial real estate set to fall, property firm Wallenstam, which manages a roughly 56 billion crown ($6.6 billion) portfolio in Sweden, is already looking at options.

          CEO Hans Wallenstam said there was too much retail space in the centres of Gothenburg and Stockholm as a result of COVID-19.

          "We have said that COVID has hit shops hard and there are many shops in residential areas which are empty now," he said.

          His firm is looking at converting 10-20 properties - mainly second-floor shops - into offices or homes.

          Some commercial buildings are not suitable for homes, however, lacking sufficient light or water, or being too close to main roads. Others are simply too expensive to convert.

          Such snags mean a lack of homes will remain a headache for years to come, even if the pace of conversions picks up.

          "The biggest contribution to solving the housing problem will be new-builds," said Christoffer Jarkeborn, regional head of new housing at developer Skanska, which recently finished converting the former Ericsson HQ in the Nacka district of Stockholm into 286 apartments.

          "But this can be complementary."











          Sweden aims to plug housing gap by converting empty stores and offices, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)
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          • Re : International Realty News & Trends

            Australia home prices end rocky 2020 on recovery track

            The turnaround from the COVID-19-led crunch has provided a much-needed windfall to consumer wealth and confidence, with the country's housing stock already valued at A$7.2 trillion ($5.55 trillion) by September.
            • Reuters
            • January 04, 2021, 18:00 IST

            SYDNEY: Australian home prices climbed for a third straight month in December as 2020 ended on a strong note across major cities and regional markets, with analysts expecting more gains this year as buyers outnumber sellers.

            The turnaround from the COVID-19-led crunch has provided a much-needed windfall to consumer wealth and confidence, with the country's housing stock already valued at A$7.2 trillion ($5.55 trillion) by September.

            Data from property consultant CoreLogic out on Monday showed national home prices rose 1.0% in December, from November when they added 0.8%. Values were up 3.0% on the previous December.

            Prices across the major capitals rose 0.9% in December from November, while the regional market surged 1.6% as city dwellers smarting from coronavirus lockdowns sought more living space and houses with gardens.

            Sydney managed a gain of 0.7%, while Melbourne increased 1.0%. Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide all rose 1.1% in the month. Values for the combined capitals were 2.0% higher for the year, while regional prices jumped 6.9%

            "As remote working opportunities became more prevalent and demand for lifestyle properties and lower density housing became more popular, regional areas saw housing market conditions surge," said CoreLogic's head of research, Tim Lawless.

            The gains have been concentrated in houses, with the apartment sector hit by a glut of new supply and a fall off in demand amid restrictions on international tourism and migration.

            While home sales recovered strongly in the last few months, listings remained below average.

            "Low advertised stock levels reflect a rapid rate of absorption; put simply there are more active buyers than new listings being added to the market," said Lawless.

            "With home buyers outnumbering sellers, most areas around the country represent a seller's market."















            Australia home prices end rocky 2020 on recovery track, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)

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            • Re : International Realty News & Trends

              Amazon pledges $2 billion for affordable housing in three US cities

              Amazon said it would give $185.5 million to the King County Housing Authority to help buy affordable apartments in the region and keep the rents low, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday.
              • AP
              • Updated: January 07, 2021, 09:06 IST

              SEATTLE: Amazon has announced $2 billion in loans and grants to secure affordable housing in three U.S. cities where it has major operations, including a Seattle suburb where the online retail giant employs at least 5,000 workers.

              Amazon said it would give $185.5 million to the King County Housing Authority to help buy affordable apartments in the region and keep the rents low, The Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

              The agency is expected to pair bond funding with the $161.5 million in loans and $24 million in grants from Amazon to fund its recent purchase of three apartment buildings, including 470 units in Bellevue, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of Seattle.

              Other tech companies have invested large sums recently to boost affordable housing, following years of complaints that they have worsened inequality in cities by pushing housing prices higher.

              Two years ago, Microsoft launched its own initiative and is spending $750 million to help provide market-rate or below-market-rate loans to developers who want to build affordable housing in the Seattle area.

              In the latest effort by Amazon, money also was directed to Arlington, Virginia, and Nashville, Tennessee, where it has hubs. Company officials projected the $2 billion would preserve or create 20,000 affordable housing units over the next five years.

              The funding will "help local families achieve long-term stability while building strong, inclusive communities," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said.

              While Amazon and Bezos have given large amounts toward affordable housing and homelessness services, including opening a homeless shelter on the campus of its Seattle headquarters, the company has also drawn scorn for successfully pressuring the Seattle City Council to rescind a tax on large companies that would have funded homelessness services in 2018.

              Stephen Norman, executive director of the King County Housing Authority, said affordable housing is often renovated and rents are increased, worsening economic and racial segregation.

              "This is a long strategy ensuring ... that this community doesn't get hollowed out," he said.

              Norman added that the money is estimated to cover about 45% of the cost of the three apartment buildings.













              Amazon: Amazon pledges $2 billion for affordable housing in three US cities, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)


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              • Re : International Realty News & Trends

                Japan's Dentsu considering sale of HQ building, said to be worth $2.9 billion

                The Nikkei business daily earlier reported that Dentsu may sell its 48-story building in the central district of Shiodome, near Ginza, and then rent back about half of the space... File Photo Japanese advertising giant Dentsu Group Inc said on Wednesday it is considering the sale of its Tokyo headquarters, which local media said could fetch around 300 billion yen ($2.9 billion).

                The Nikkei business daily earlier reported that Dentsu may sell its 48-story building in the central district of Shiodome, near Ginza, and then rent back about half of the space. It currently uses about 70 per cent of the building, the report said.

                Dentsu said in a statement it was considering the sale as part of a comprehensive business review announced in August, but that a decision had not yet been made.

                Tokyo has some of the most expensive land prices in the world, but with more people working from home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some firms are rethinking their real estate holdings.

                Financial services firm Nomura Holdings Inc and technology company Fujitsu Ltd are among companies that have said they will make give employees options to continue working from home beyond the coronavirus pandemic.












                Dentsu: Japan's Dentsu considering sale of HQ building, said to be worth $2.9 billion, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)
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                • Re : International Realty News & Trends

                  Home construction in US jumps 5.8% in December to 1.67 million units

                  The better-than-expected December gain followed an increase of 9.8% in November when housing starts climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.58 million units, the Commerce Department reported Thursday.
                  WASHINGTON: U.S. home construction jumped 5.8% in December to 1.67 million units, a 14-year high that topped the strongest annual showing from the country's builders in 15 years.

                  The better-than-expected December gain followed an increase of 9.8% in November when housing starts climbed to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.58 million units, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The December pace was the strongest since the building rate reached 1.72 million units in September 2006.

                  For the year, construction began on 1.45 million units, up 4.8% from 2019 and the best pace since construction starts totaled 1.8 million units in 2006. That period included a massive U.S. housing boom that eventually burst, kicking off the catastrophic 2007-2009 recession.

                  Housing has been one of the star performers this year even as the overall economy has been wracked by the spread of the coronavirus. Record-low mortgage rates and the migration of Americans to larger homes better suited for home offices during the pandemic has fueled demand.

                  "We expect the pace of housing starts to moderate in 2021 as homebuilders confront constraints including high lumber prices and shortages of lots and labor," said Nancy Vanden Houten, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

                  Even with these constraints, Vanden Houten believes home construction should remain at healthy levels, supported by low mortgage rates and strong demand when COVID-19 cases begin to decline.

                  For December, construction of single-family homes increased by 7.8% to 1.23 million units. Construction of apartments with five or more units fell by 2% to a rate of 437,000.

                  The Northeast was the only region in the country that fell, suffering a decline of 7.2%. Construction rose 13.6% in the Midwest, 11.2% in the West and 1.3% in the South.












                  Home construction in USA: Home construction in US jumps 5.8% in December to 1.67 million units, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)
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                  • Re : International Realty News & Trends

                    Tokyo's apartment prices rise to near bubble-era high in 2020: Data

                    Higher construction costs due to preparations for the Olympics and popularity of high-rise condominiums in formerly industrial waterfront areas helped drive the average apartment price up to 60.84 million yen ($586,410), the highest since 1990 when it reached a record 61.23 million yen.
                    • Reuters
                    • January 26, 2021, 18:30 IST

                    TOKYO: Prices of newly-built apartments in the Tokyo area rose 1.7% last year, approaching the record highs seen during Japan's asset-inflated bubble era that ended in the early 1990s, the country's Real Estate Economic Institute said.

                    Higher construction costs due to preparations for the Olympics and popularity of high-rise condominiums in formerly industrial waterfront areas helped drive the average apartment price up to 60.84 million yen ($586,410), the highest since 1990 when it reached a record 61.23 million yen.

                    The most expensive unit was a 690 million yen ($6.65 million) condominium in Daikanyama, the real estate data and consultancy firm said.

                    The number of sales fell 12.8% from a year earlier to 27,228 units, however, down around 70% from 1990 levels.

                    Real estate website Suumo said in a report last week that low interest rates and tax breaks helped sustain property demand amid the coronavirus outbreak.

                    Unlike people in other big cities such as New York which saw an exodus to the suburbs during the coronavirus pandemic, Tokyo residents appeared more interested in moving to new developments in central locations to reduce their commuting times, it said.

                    The Tokyo stock market's Nikkei 225 average rose around 16% last year.












                    Apartment prices in Tokyo: Tokyo's apartment prices rise to near bubble-era high in 2020: Data, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)
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