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International Realty News & Trends

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  • Re : International Realty News & Trends

    Singapore's hot housing market faces risk of cooling curbs

    House prices rose again in the first quarter, with the private home market up 3.3%, its steepest rise in nearly three years, fueling expectations the government is likely to intervene soon to calm the market. File photo

    SINGAPORE: Ishwinder Kaur and her husband spent more than two years looking to buy their first home in Singapore, hoping property prices would dip during the hunt.

    The couple finally bought their apartment in December after prices rose in all but one quarter last year, even as the city state posted its worst recession during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    "We got really worried because we saw that people were snapping up homes left, right and centre," said Kaur.

    House prices rose again in the first quarter, with the private home market up 3.3%, its steepest rise in nearly three years, fueling expectations the government is likely to intervene soon to calm the market.

    Driven by low interest rates, confidence in property's long-term safety and a fear of missing out, the boom is putting buyers increasingly at odds with the government, which has been warning that purchasers should exercise caution.

    Authorities in Singapore, where real estate is a safe haven investment for wealthy foreigners, keep close tabs on property prices to ensure housing remains affordable for locals and stays in step with economic fundamentals.

    They began advising prudence late last year, with Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam warning again in April that home buyers should exercise caution given the risk of rising interest rates. Instead, some buyers are trying to get ahead of any intervention, further driving up sales.

    "Considering that only property value seems to be growing steadily, and extra stamp duties may kick in soon to cool the market, it is better to invest in a new house at this time," said sales engineer Faye Zhou, who is looking for a condominium.

    Government tools to cool the market include boosting stamp duties on foreign buyers and investors with multiple homes, or increasing the proportion of down-payments. It can also increase land supply through tenders.

    Private home prices fell 11.6% from a 2013 peak over a span of 15 quarters after the government took steps to curb a housing market boom as Singapore emerged from the global financial crisis.

    The government last tightened curbs in 2018 after prices rose about 9% over a year and analysts expect it to act again as the city-state's economic recovery from the pandemic is uneven and near-term wage growth remains muted.

    Foreign demand is also returning, according to property consultants OrangeTee, helping boost sales of luxury homes to their highest since the third quarter of 2017.

    Total transactions in the first quarter nearly doubled from a year ago, touching their highest in at least two years.

    The housing loan booking at DBS Group, Singapore's biggest bank, has been at record levels.

    "Some of it is because of people's view that you might see some cooling measures. So people are trying to get ahead of that," CEO Piyush Gupta said in the bank's results call with reporters.

    Inventory squeeze

    Further out, supply is set to tighten in both the private and public housing markets due to pandemic-driven delays in construction.

    The inventory of uncompleted homes with developers is dwindling and had fallen by 40% as of the first quarter compared with two years ago.

    Developers will likely seek to acquire land to replenish their inventories, either sites from the government or existing apartments blocks that can redeveloped. Analysts expect intense competition for land, which may, in turn fuel further price rises.

    Property in land-scarce Singapore has long attracted the super-rich from around Asia, with political uncertainty in rival Hong Kong helping boost that appeal.

    And even if prices fall in the near-term from recent highs, buyers are confident they will not stay low forever.

    "Property prices in Singapore will certainly still grow steadily in the long term ... there's limited land but more people are coming into Singapore," said Sky Chen, a 30-year-old architect who bought his apartment in November.








    Singapore's hot housing market faces risk of cooling curbs, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)

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    • Re : International Realty News & Trends

      Hong Kongers increase activity in weak London property market

      Hong Kongers bought 1,932 homes in the British capital in the period July 2020 to April 2021, against 793 in the same period a year earlier, according to Land Registry data. File photo

      LONDON: The number of London properties bought by Hong Kongers has more than doubled since the announcement of a new visa offering residents of the territory an opportunity to move to Britain, estate agent Benham & Reeves said on Wednesday.

      Transactions by Hong Kong buyers had increased by 144% in London since July 2020, it said. That was the month when Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the visa scheme for holders of British National Overseas (BNO) passports in response to Beijing imposing a national security law that Britain said undermined Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy.

      The increased activity was one bright spot in a weak London market, particularly at the top end, during COVID-19.

      Hong Kongers bought 1,932 homes in the British capital in the period July 2020 to April 2021, against 793 in the same period a year earlier, according to Land Registry data.

      Benham & Reeves said it estimated that buyers from Hong Kong had accounted for an estimated 4% of activity in the market since July 2020, up from a previous 1%.

      Marc von Grundherr, director of the estate agent, said Britain had always been a popular destination for Hong Kong property buyers.

      "This has certainly been bolstered by the offer of the BNO visa and for the first time in some 30 years, our Hong Kong office saw more interest from those looking to buy versus those looking to invest during the first quarter of the year," he said.

      "Some of this activity is being seen in the very high-end London market, but in fact, much of the demand coming from Hong Kong is focussed around more average market price thresholds."










      BNO passports for Hong Kong: Hong Kongers increase activity in weak London property market, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)


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      • Re : International Realty News & Trends

        Canadian home prices, sales to moderate but remain high: CMHC

        While the pace of price growth is expected to ease as mortgage rates increase and buyers face already high prices, home prices could climb 14.4% on average in 2021, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) forecast in its spring market outlook. File Photo OTTAWA: Canada's home sales and price growth will moderate over the coming years from the unsustainable levels of 2020, but remain elevated, with housing starts expected to stabilize by the end of 2023, the national housing agency said on Thursday.

        While the pace of price growth is expected to ease as mortgage rates increase and buyers face already high prices, home prices could climb 14.4% on average in 2021, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) forecast in its spring market outlook.

        Its report does not forecast any annual price declines in the 2021-2023 period.

        "Economic conditions are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023 ... This includes the pace of home sales and prices, which we expect to see moderate from 2020 highs over the same period," Bob Dugan, chief economist at the CMHC, said in a statement.

        Dugan warned that significant risks that could impact the forecast include the path of the COVID-19 pandemic, a faster-than-expected increase in mortgage rates, and a reversal of the urban exodus that has driven up prices outside large cities.

        The CMHC said last May that it expected housing starts, sales and prices to plunge amid the pandemic, with prices not expected to recover to pre-pandemic levels until 2022.

        But home sales and prices soared to record levels, with the average selling price up 31.6% in March 2021 from a year ago. Housing starts also hit a record high in March.

        Rental demand is also expected to recover through 2023 as immigration and inter-provincial migration resume, and as students return to campus, the agency said.








        Canadian home prices, sales to moderate but remain high: CMHC, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)
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        • Re : International Realty News & Trends

          Dubai luxury home market soars as world's rich flee pandemic

          As vaccines roll out unevenly worldwide and waves of infections force countries to extend restrictions, foreign buyers flush with cash have flooded Dubai's high-end property market, one of the few places in the world where they can dine, shop and do business in person.
          DUBAI: After nearly three decades in London, Christophe Reech was fed up with the city's pandemic lockdowns. This spring, he sold his luxury townhouse and jetted off to the desert sheikhdom of Dubai to start a new life with his family.

          There was no turning back, he said. The French business magnate's super wealthy foreign friends were doing the same, driving an unprecedented surge in sales of Dubai's most-exclusive properties.

          "Here in Dubai, there's only one strategy: Business as usual," said Reech, the chairman of an eponymous group that owns real estate and financial technology companies. The philosophy is simple: "Let's make sure everyone's vaccinated and keep everything open."

          "Of course that attracts people like me," he said.

          As vaccines roll out unevenly worldwide and waves of infections force countries to extend restrictions, foreign buyers flush with cash have flooded Dubai's high-end property market, one of the few places in the world where they can dine, shop and do business in person. They're snapping up record numbers of luxury villas and penthouses, sending prices rocketing in this boom-and-bust market.

          Sales of Dubai's upscale properties, once slow, soared 230% in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period last year. Prices in some top-end areas rose as much as 40%, according to Property Finder, the country's largest real-estate website.

          A record-breaking 90 properties worth 10 million dirhams each ($2.7 million) changed hands last month, on top of 84 in March, surpassing heights hit eight years ago, according to real estate consultancy Property Monitor. For comparison, there were 54 such transactions in all of 2020.

          "Tons of people are coming in and buying multimillion dollar properties on the spot, with no due diligence time whatsoever," said Matthew Cooke, a partner at consultancy Knight Frank, who manages penthouse sales on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah artificial archipelago.

          As with previous cycles, cash buyers started snatching up homes at bargain prices and flipping them for profits. Analysts say that will continue until prices rise too high and returns diminish.

          How long the craze lasts and what awaits the skyscraper-studded city then remains unclear. Home prices are still falling in the middle tiers of the city's saturated property market, which has seen values drop sharply since peaks reached seven years ago due to overbuilding. Average residence sale prices in the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, collapsed to $400 per square foot this month from $1,300 in 2013.

          "The market is going through a boom time ... but people are very aware that Dubai can run too quickly and it all falls apart," said Jackie Johns, partner at Premier Estates, an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate, referring to the debt-driven crisis that brought the city to its knees in 2008.

          The hot streak in the luxury market isn't unique to Dubai, as ultra-low interest rates and families' desire for more space has seen the wealthy in cities like New York and Paris decamp to suburban mansions. But there are other factors at play in the glitzy emirate, home to the long-haul carrier Emirates and tallest tower on Earth.

          Since first reopening to tourists last summer, Dubai has pitched itself as the world's pandemic-friendly vacation spot. With no mandatory dayslong quarantines, foreign visitors now party in Dubai's bustling bars and on its beaches, their selfies at hotel-resorts and helicopter pads stirring resentment back home.

          The tourist influx helped drive the country's dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in January, prompting the U.K. to suspend flights. But the United Arab Emirates, with its young population and low mortality rates, has fared relatively well during the pandemic. The country of over 9 million, which relied heavily on the Chinese state-backed Sinopharm vaccine for its inoculation campaign, has administered 10.6 million vaccine doses.

          A global financial center known as an oasis in the volatile Middle East, Dubai long has benefitted from capital flight. Homeowners on the Palm Jumeirah - which saw 43% of all April transactions - include Afghan warlords and the political elite from countries like Nigeria, Syria and Lebanon, all searching for a safe place to park their savings.

          Now, a big share of wealthy buyers on this man-made archipelago, popularly known as the Palm, and in other exclusive villa communities in Dubai come from Europe, India, China and Russia, seeking a better quality of life as the pandemic rages. In March, the Palm logged its second-highest residential sale ever when a Swiss family bought a waterfront mansion for $30.2 million. Last month, an unidentified European family bought the city's third-most expensive home ever for $28.6 million.

          Plentiful vaccines underpin that demand. Although questions surround the efficacy of the Sinopharm shot, Dubai offers other options, including Pfizer-BioNtech and Oxford-Astrazeneca. To get a jab, all one needs is a residence visa - which the city already extends to high-end property buyers and investors.

          Reech, who plans to buy land in Dubai to build his dream home, booked a Pfizer appointment immediately after he received his residency. In the U.K., he said, he'd have to wait another four months.

          New initiatives to lure affluent foreigners include remote work visas, retirement visas and long-term, renewable "golden" visas. In an unprecedented move, authorities are even offering Emirati citizenship to a select group of foreigners. To boost its brand as a cosmopolitan city, the UAE also has altered its strict Islamic legal code, allowing unmarried couples to live together and noncitizens to follow foreign laws for divorce and inheritance.

          Dubai's vision for the post-pandemic high life has gained traction as foreign investors seek to "play a favorable role in the economic recovery," said Robert Mogielnicki, a resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.

          And even if the market's meteoric rise comes crashing down, the wealthy are unlikely to bear the brunt of the fallout, analysts say. If anything, the pandemic has shown the world's high flyers thrive in a crisis.

          "The people who lose out are on the lower end," Mogielnicki said.











          Luxury property in Dubai: Dubai luxury home market soars as world's rich flee pandemic, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)
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          • Re : International Realty News & Trends

            KPMG switches to flexible working plan for UK staff

            The global accountancy firm has followed other corporate giants such as HSBC and Proxima in offering hybrid working patterns to its workforce during the pandemic.
            LONDON: KPMG on Thursday announced new flexible working plans to allow its UK staff to work in offices up to four times per fortnight from next month as Britain loosens coronavirus restrictions.

            The global accountancy firm has followed other corporate giants such as HSBC and Proxima in offering hybrid working patterns to its workforce during the pandemic.

            KPMG's 16,000 UK staff will be able to come into its offices for in-person work, meetings and training, with the remaining working hours spent at home and client sites.

            Employees will also be given an extra two-and-a-half hours off per week during the summer months, which staff can choose to take in the morning or afternoon.

            KPMG UK chief executive Jon Holt said: "We trust our people. Our new way of working will empower them and enable them to design their own working week.

            "The pandemic has proven it's not about where you work, but how you work."

            A March survey of KPMG UK's staff indicated that 76 percent enjoyed the greater flexibility of homeworking, 65 percent felt they had a better work-life balance, and 87 percent liked not having to commute.

            "Our offices will become a place people go to collaborate and learn," Holt said.

            "The pandemic means we have a cohort of people who have never been in the office and coached face-to-face -- we need to get those connections back."

            A poll of 20,000 adults by think-tank Demos in December 2020 suggested 79 percent of people working from home preferred to continue doing so to some extent even after lockdown restrictions eased.

            But there are fears that permanently switching to remote and hybrid working will hollow out city centres as hospitality and retail businesses suffer from lower footfall.

            Britain has been one of Europe's worst-hit countries by the pandemic, with nearly 128,000 deaths from the virus, but it now has a roadmap to unlock the economy following months of lockdown measures and a successful vaccine rollout.










            KPMG: KPMG switches to flexible working plan for UK staff, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)

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            • Re : International Realty News & Trends

              California governor proposes $12 billion to house state's homeless

              Newsom's proposal includes $8.75 billion over two years to create an estimated 46,000 housing units, expanding on a program he launched last year to convert motels and other properties into housing.
              SAN DIEGO: Buoyed by a large budget surplus and swimming in federal pandemic recovery money, California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday proposed $12 billion to get more people experiencing homelessness off the streets and into homes of their own.

              Newsom's proposal includes $8.75 billion over two years to create an estimated 46,000 housing units, expanding on a program he launched last year to convert motels and other properties into housing. Nearly half the money would go toward housing in places where people with mental health and other behavioral issues can get services onsite.

              Newsom also proposed spending $3.5 billion on rental subsidies, new housing and shelter with the aim of ending family homelessness within five years. It would help families with minors avoid losing their homes in the first place or help them get sheltered without spending days, weeks or months on a waitlist.

              "As governor I actually want to get something done. I don't want to talk about this for a decade," Newsom said in a news conference at a former San Diego Residence Inn that has been converted into housing for 177 previously homeless people.

              "What's happening on our streets and sidewalks is unacceptable," he said.

              The Democratic governor, who faces a recall election this year, seized on the twin issues of homelessness and housing affordability early on in his first term as governor. The nation's most populous state has an estimated 161,000 people experiencing homelessness, more than any other state. Advocates say they can't house people quickly enough with a shortage of units and high rents.

              The largest concentration of homelessness is in Los Angeles, where Mayor Eric Garcetti last month vowed to spend nearly $1 billion to move some of the 61,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County off the streets. Rows of tents, cardboard shelters, battered RVs and makeshift plywood structures have now expanded beyond the notorious Skid Row throughout the nation's second-most populous city.

              During the pandemic, Newsom launched projects "Roomkey" and "Homekey" using federal money to house homeless residents in hotels and helping cities, counties and other local entities buy and convert motels and other buildings into housing. Newsom officials said $800 million spent on the Homekey program created 6,000 more housing units, providing shelter for 8,200 people.

              One of them is Lindsey Prescott, who made an unplanned appearance at Newsom's news conference after her 18-month-old daughter Mia waved at the governor when he arrived at a converted Residence Inn operated by Father Joe's Villages.

              Prescott said she was homeless for five years, struggling with addiction after her mother died, and lost her daughter to foster care. She said she got Mia back in May after she stopped using drugs and was selected to move into the former hotel.

              "I feel normal," said Prescott, as Mia darted around an interior patio next to a tennis court. "I'm a mom. I have my daughter. She has her crib next to my bed. I go to the grocery store. I cook."

              Prescott expects to stay at the converted hotel for two years, then move to an apartment or house. There is no limit to how long people can stay at Father Joe's, and some may choose to live permanently.

              Nan Roman, president and CEO of the National Alliance to End Homelessness, called Newsom's hotel and motel programs gamechangers that took advantage of the pandemic to make real changes. A topsy-turvy real estate market and the federal government throwing money at local governments makes it an ideal time to expand housing, she said, but lots of coordination is needed on things such as rental subsidies and ongoing care to make sure people don't end up back on the streets.

              Advocates cheered the governor's proposal. But they voiced concerns about California's decades-old resistance to building new homes: politics, long-term funding issues, neighborhood opposition and political jockeying.

              "If we couple it with actually taking steps to close our affordable housing gap, it could be good," said Dr. Margot Kushel, director of the Center for Vulnerable Populations at the University of California, San Francisco. "The people who are homeless right now do need a response today, and not five years from now."

              Focusing on homelessness could prove politically helpful for Newsom in the recall campaign. Republican challengers, including John Cox and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, issued statements calling Newsom ineffective.

              If Newsom's plan wins support from the state Legislature, its implementation would depend heavily on the willingness of local governments and communities to go along, which is often a significant barrier.

              "Every community group that you go to demands that you solve the problem of homelessness, and then in the exact same meeting they'll demand you don't solve it anywhere near them," said San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, a fellow Democrat who appeared with Newsom.

              The governor's proposal is part of a $100 billion pandemic recovery plan Newsom is rolling out this week, thanks to an astounding $76 billion budget surplus and $27 billion in new funding from the federal government's coronavirus spending bill.

              A new state database shows that nearly 250,000 people sought housing services in 2020. Of that number, 117,000 people are still waiting for help while nearly 92,000 people found housing.







              California governor proposes $12 billion to house state's homeless, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)
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              • Re : International Realty News & Trends

                New Zealand home sales cool in April, prices edge up further

                ​​Seasonally adjusted nationwide median house values rose 1.0% from the previous month and 25.6% over the same month last year, according to REINZ.
                WELLINGTON: New Zealand house prices rose further in April, Real Estate Institute of New Zealand (REINZ) data showed on Thursday, but sales dipped over the previous month as lending curbs and government measures to cool the market took effect.

                Seasonally adjusted nationwide median house values rose 1.0% from the previous month and 25.6% over the same month last year, according to REINZ.

                Seasonally adjusted median house prices in the country's biggest city, Auckland, increased by 21.2% from April 2020 and 2.7% over March.

                "While the national picture represents the busiest April in 5 years, the reality is that we've seen the number of sales decrease when compared to March," Wendy Alexander, acting chief executive of REINZ, said in a statement.

                "While in part this is what we expect to happen when moving from March to April, there is definitely a wait and see approach from a number of investors and also some first time buyers."

                New Zealand's government brought in measures in March targeted at taxing property investors and discouraging speculators after its pandemic-inspired policies fuelled a housing crisis.










                New Zealand home sales cool in April, prices edge up further, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)

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                • Re : International Realty News & Trends

                  Canadian towns grapple with big-city-like real estate boom

                  "The small towns are getting hit hard. They're getting interest like they've never had before," said Stephan Gauthier, an Ottawa real estate agent who is increasingly helping clients buy in villages well outside the city.
                  OTTAWA: Small cities and cottage towns across Canada are grappling with the fallout of surging popularity amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as urbanites flock in, driving up home prices with big-city-style bidding wars and putting pressure on municipal services.

                  The growing demand has led to some small Canadian communities seeing house prices jump more than 75% in one year.

                  "The small towns are getting hit hard. They're getting interest like they've never had before," said Stephan Gauthier, an Ottawa real estate agent who is increasingly helping clients buy in villages well outside the city.

                  The eye-watering gains in Canada are mirroring similar trends in New Zealand, Australia and Britain, where rural home prices are accelerating faster than in cities as avid buyers rush to snatch up cheaper small-town properties and as white-collar workers bet on being able to work from home even after the pandemic ends.

                  The boom in Canada has builders flooding into smaller communities. More homes mean more demand for drinking water and wastewater treatment, forcing some towns to fast-track expensive infrastructure projects.

                  For locals, the influx of city people is a double-edged sword. New residents are breathing life and diversity into places where - before the pandemic - schools were closing and many businesses struggled through the winter.

                  But the soaring housing prices are locking locals out of the real estate market, and competition for rentals means many people can no longer afford to live locally, leaving small-business owners scrambling for staff.

                  Even existing homeowners, whose home values have risen sharply, are unable to move up the property ladder as the gap to the next rung widens past their means.

                  "You want people to come here and help build the community. But at what cost to the people who have been here for literally generations?" said Nancy Cherwinka, who lives in Prince Edward County, a peninsula in Lake Ontario known for its wineries and beaches.

                  Move to the country

                  Roughly 75,000 people left Toronto and Montreal - Canada's two biggest cities and main COVID-19 hot spots - for other parts of their respective provinces of Ontario and Quebec in the year up to July 2020, the largest such migration since at least 2001, according to the latest Statistics Canada data.

                  For Prince Edward County, about 200 km (125 miles) east of Toronto, that migration has helped drive house prices up 78.5% on the year, putting ownership out of reach for many local residents. The average selling price of a home there in April was C$740,112 ($610,000).

                  "Now the rental market has gone nuts," said Chuck Dowdall, executive director of the Prince Edward County Affordable Housing Corporation, with potential home buyers giving up on buying, and renting instead.

                  The rental crunch is making it difficult for small businesses to hire and retain staff, even if they pay above minimum wage.

                  It is a struggle that Samantha Parsons and her husband, owners of Parsons Brewing Company, know well. They built a small bunkhouse next to their brewery to house workers temporarily and have even had staff stay with them. This year, they arranged a lease for a three-bedroom home for employees.

                  "You have to be creative," said Parsons, adding they still lose out on talent because of the housing challenge.

                  If you build it

                  To tackle the housing crisis, Prince Edward County is planning for more than 3,000 housing starts through 2026, including dozens of below-market rental units.

                  That boom is putting pressure on municipal services, notably aging water infrastructure. The region is hastening plans to spend C$68 million ($56.2 million) on its water and wastewater system, with developers on the hook for much of the bill.

                  New-home construction is also surging in other smaller centers across Canada, with rural starts in the first quarter of 2021 at their highest point since 2008.

                  In Collingwood, Ontario, a four-season resort town about 145 km (90 miles) northwest of Toronto, the population boom has forced the community to pause all new-home construction while it sorts out how to address its critical water shortage.

                  In Nelson, a former mining town in British Columbia's Kootenay mountains, a pandemic-driven explosion of infill and coach housing is forcing the small city to expand its wastewater and water infrastructure sooner than planned.

                  "We were heading down that road anyway ... but now it's been accelerated. So that's going to put us a little bit on our back foot," said Mayor John Dooley, adding that the sewage treatment plant alone will cost about C$25 million.

                  Dooley said Nelson hoped to split the costs with the province and federal government.

                  Back in Prince Edward County, about half the children at a rural daycare are new to the community since the pandemic. At the sister daycare in town, a quarter of students are newcomers. Enrollment at local schools is also up, reversing a trend that had led to closures in previous years.

                  More young families living in the community will ultimately be beneficial, said Cherwinka, as long as they stick around once life goes back to normal.

                  "Hopefully they stay, hopefully it's not just a pandemic solution," she said. "Hopefully it's long term."











                  Real estate in Canada: Canadian towns grapple with big-city-like real estate boom, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)
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                  • Re : International Realty News & Trends

                    Hungary government's plan to sell municipal flats draws fire

                    The bill, submitted to parliament this week by Laszlo Borocz, an MP from the governing Fidesz party, proposes that flats owned by municipalities and the state be sold to tenants for 15%-30% of their market price.
                    • Reuters
                    • Updated: May 15, 2021, 16:22 IST

                    BUDAPEST: Hungary's ruling party has proposed legislation that would force municipalities to let tenants buy tens of thousands of municipally owned rented apartments at deeply discounted prices, a move that NGOs and mayors say could deepen a housing crisis.

                    The bill, submitted to parliament this week by Laszlo Borocz, an MP from the governing Fidesz party, proposes that flats owned by municipalities and the state be sold to tenants for 15%-30% of their market price.

                    The bill would not prohibit the immediate re-sale of the flats, many of which are located in Budapest's most expensive Castle district.

                    The text of the bill says the move would help families who cannot buy their own home due to a recent jump in property prices.

                    Since 2015, Hungary has experienced a steep rise in house prices, driven by generous subsidies for families to buy a new home and interest rate cuts fuelling demand by investors.

                    Critics, however, including some within Fidesz, say the legislation would deepen the housing crisis by dismantling the system of municipal social housing.

                    "Dismantling this safety net will take away the opportunity for decent housing from the most vulnerable," a statement by 25 NGOs including Amnesty International Hungary and Habitat for Humanity Hungary said on Friday.

                    There were 105,174 flats owned by municipalities in Hungary in 2019, or 2.6% of all flats in the country, according to the Central Statistical Office.

                    In a rare sign of opposition from within Fidesz, party member Peter Kovacs, the mayor of Budapest's 16th district, called the bill "nonsense" and "unfair". He said selling the flats meant his municipality would not be able to help people in need any more.

                    Selling the 200 units in his district would mean a loss of 3-8 billion forints ($10 million-$27 million) for the municipality, he wrote on his Facebook page.

                    The opposition mayor of Budapest's 13th district, a municipality that owns nearly 6,000 flats, also slammed the bill on Facebook. Jozsef Toth said the system of municipal rental flats was being sacrificed, with wealthier people set to benefit from the proposed move.












                    Municipal flats in Hungary: Hungary government's plan to sell municipal flats draws fire, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)

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                    • Re : International Realty News & Trends

                      New home prices in China grew at quickest pace in eight-month in April

                      Average new home prices in 70 major cities grew 0.6% in April from a month earlier, the quickest pace since August 2020 and a notch up from a 0.5% gain in March, according to Reuters calculations based on data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.
                      BEIJING: New home prices in China grew at the fastest pace in eight months in April, data showed on Monday, despite the government's ramped-up efforts to tame the market and tackle an alarming build-up in debt.

                      Average new home prices in 70 major cities grew 0.6% in April from a month earlier, the quickest pace since August 2020 and a notch up from a 0.5% gain in March, according to Reuters calculations based on data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

                      On a year-on-year basis, growth in new home prices rose to an eight-month high of 4.8%, compared with 4.6% in March.

                      First- and second-tier cities continued leading monthly price growth, with new home prices in those cities rising an average of 0.6% month-on-month in April, the NBS said in a statement accompanying the data.

                      Among those, Chongqing Municipality and Guangzhou city are top contributors to the strength.

                      "Local governments have become more surgical in their management of the housing market, unlike previous sweeping crackdowns, thus home buying demand for living in or for investment in big cities hasn't been fully crowded out," said Lu Wenxi, chief analyst with property agency Centaline.

                      With more smaller cities imposing tightening measures, the advantage of being in a "policy vacuum" had gone, and purchasing power had returned to bigger cities, he added. He also expected home prices in tier-1 and 2 cities to keep climbing, outperforming lower-tier towns.

                      Real estate, a vital source of growth for China's economy, has bounced back quickly from the COVID-19 crisis. But a relentless rise in home prices in big cities, which is now spilling over into nearby smaller ones, has raised concerns about overheating.

                      The month saw authorities in a dozen cities intensify their campaigns to drive speculators out of the property market, using incremental tools rather than sweeping curbs. Local policies include capping prices set by developers and preventing some real estate agencies from setting excessively high second-hand home prices.

                      The NBS data showed 62 cities reported monthly gains, unchanged from the tally in March.

                      China's leaders last month vowed to boost the supply of rental housing and affordable public housing, and prevent speculation in various property markets including school district homes.

                      Separate NBS figures showed China's real estate investment rose 21.6% in the first four months of the year, slowing from 25.6% in the first quarter, amid increased scrutiny of developers to prevent rampant debt growth.











                      New home prices in China grew at quickest pace in eight-month in April, Real Estate News, ET RealEstate (indiatimes.com)

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