A risky year for the global property market?
The U.S. Federal Reserve's massive bond-buying program to stimulate the U.S. economy has long sparked fears that it was inflating property prices. But now the Fed has started to wind down its purchases, concerns are rising that "tapering" could generate new risks for global property markets.
The Fed's $85 billion of bond purchases every month had pumped extra liquidity into the world's financial system. All these extra funds encouraged investors to pile into riskier assets – such as property.
This in turn contributed to dramatic house price rises across a number of emerging markets. In 2013, Indonesian house prices rose by 13.5 percent, Turkey's increased by 12.5 percent and Brazil's were 11.9 percent higher, according to global property consultancy Knight Frank's Global House Price Index.
(Read more: Ding ding: Taper tantrum round two?)
Liam Bailey, global head of residential research at Knight Frank, said one of the "unintended consequences" of the Fed's stimulus was a global risk of real estate bubbles.
"I think most people would agree – quantitative easing, low interest rates – has been a contributory factor to the recent house price growth," he told CNBC.
In December, however, outgoing Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke confirmed the central bank would begin slowing down to its bond-buying program. This gave hope to those worried about real estate bubbles that there would be a reverse of the house price inflation seen in 2013.
In emerging markets, for instance, many investors are braced for an exodus of funds. These investors could look instead to pile their cash into property assets considered less-risky, according to David Hutchings, head of EMEA research at real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, such as those in well-established markets like London.
But he warned that this could, in fact, exacerbate a property bubble in these markets, rather than do the reverse.
"That is a risk… it's something that will only happen over a number of years, so it's not a 2014 risk," he told CNBC. "But without doubt, as people reallocate their money, there will be a risk that they start to pile too much into one particular area such as developed (property) markets."
Not all are convinced that tapering will have this effect on the global property market, however.
Jacques Gordon, global strategist at LaSalle Investment Management, a real estate investment manager with $47.6 billion of assets under management, said the winding down of stimulus by the Fed would instead reduce pressure for capital coming into property.
"Tapering is a healthy thing…. It will let interest rates move back to their long-term norms, it will raise the cost of debt," he told CNBC. "It will reduce the sense that property prices have recovered too quickly."
Whatever the direct impact of tapering on the global property market, both Gordon and Bailey were agreed that the exceptional house price rises in some markets were worrying.
Indeed, a number of governments have attempted to put an end to massive house price growth – such as in Dubai, where house prices rose by a whopping 28.5 percent in 2013 – and are likely to continue to do so over the coming year.
(Read more: London's real estate bubble fears overblown?)
Dubai, for instance, has already doubled its transfer fees and imposed mortgage caps for both expats and nationals. While Hong Kong (which saw house prices rise by 16.1 percent in 2013), China (up 21.6 percent) and Singapore (up 4.6 percent) have all put in place measures in an attempt to cool their house price rises.
"The house price bubble concern does cross our radar screens to the extent that if it pops, it will have a knock on effect on consumer spending, household wealth - a whole variety of sectors," Gordon said.
"It's at an all-time record high in Hong Kong, in Canada, in some U.S. markets. From a property investor standpoint, it is something that raises at least a minor concern in terms of risks for 2014."
While with regards to the U.K. in particular – where house prices are up 5.4 percent on the year country-wide, and 11.6 percent higher in London – Bailey warned that the price growth did not seem justified by the fundamentals.
(Read more: Yep, it's another housing bubble)
"The problem with strong price growth is the longer you have strong price growth, the bigger the risk you build up when rates do rise. That's the real issue," he said.
These concerns come at a time when the global economic recovery appears to be picking up steam.
The World Bank, for instance, expects global growth to accelerate in 2014 as advanced economies turn a corner five years after the global financial crisis. Growth is projected to strengthen to 3.2 percent this year, 3.4 percent in 2015, and 3.6 percent in 2016 - up from 2.4 percent in 2013.
It came after Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said it too was planning to raise its global growth forecasts.
But as optimism about the world's economic future increases, and investors feel more confident, Cushman & Wakefield's Hutchings said the Fed's stimulus wind-down should help temper any over-excited property investors.
"The risk would be what happens next – as people loosen their risk tolerance," he said.
"But with tapering coming in at the same time, it may actually help make people remain focused on the fundamentals of real estate – and not push the boat out too far."