Real Estate

Australia, NZ property prices the strongest risers, Asia prices lag, Knight Frank survey finds

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Housing prices in Australasia rose the most last year, with both Australia and New Zealand seeing climbs exceeding 10 percent, while prices slumped in Singapore and Taiwan, Knight Frank said Friday.

The average 12.4 percent increase in housing prices in Australasia compared with a global average of 3 percent in the 55 housing markets tracked in Knight Frank's Global House Price index. Overall, housing price growth globally accelerated from a 2.3 percent increase in 2014, the report said.

Australia and New Zealand both ranked among the least affordable housing markets in the world when comparing house prices with income, according to the report, which used data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Prices in Asia lagged, growing just 1.9 percent last year. While Hong Kong has long ranked among the world's most expensive housing markets, price growth there slowed to 7 percent in 2015 from 17 percent a year earlier, Knight Frank said.

"The slower rate of growth is attributable to rising supply (more than 11,200 homes were completed in 2015), as well as China's financial market volatility and the expectation of increasing interest rates," the report said.

At the same time, China's house prices only rose a marginal 0.4 percent in 2015 after prices peaked in the first quarter of 2014, the report said.

Japan and South Korea ranked as the two most affordable markets in the index, with prices undervalued relative to long-term averages.

On a country basis, housing prices in Turkey grew the fastest last year, clocking increases of 18 percent, the report said.

"Increasingly viewed as a safe haven for Middle Eastern investors, Turkey is bridging East and West whilst also seeing strong population growth," it said.

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Ukraine and Greece were the weakest of the bunch, with prices falling 12 percent and 5 percent respectively, Knight Frank said.

Overall, Europe's housing price growth came in at 3.7 percent, but the continent is home to two of the five least affordable countries, Belgium and France, the report said. At the same time, Germany and Ireland ranked as two of the top five most affordable markets.

North American markets saw housing prices rise 4.6 percent last year, but affordability diverged, with Canada the third-least affordable market in the index, while the United States was the fourth-most affordable.

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For this year, Knight Frank expects the index's rise to slow.

"The global economy is experiencing a potentially dangerous cocktail of low oil prices, a strong dollar and a continued slowdown in China," it said.

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—By CNBC.Com's Leslie Shaffer; Follow her on Twitter @LeslieShaffer1