Chinese cities pull global luxury property prices higher as taxes bite elsewhere

Yongyuan Dai | Getty Images

Growth in luxury house prices of 36.2 percent in China's third largest city, Guangzhou, has helped to bump the global index up 4.3 percent in the first quarter, according to a report from Knight Frank published Monday.

Capturing the top position, Guangzhou nudged Beijing into second place and Shanghai into fourth, given a more limited inventory and a slow-to-act policymaking body as opposed to its rivals which saw initiatives aimed at cooling the real estate market introduced more rapidly.

Such measures include making it more challenging to buy a second home and an increase in the minimum deposit needed for a mortgage as well as restrictions on developers seeking to borrow to buy land.

Asia seized six of the top ten spots in the list of 41 global cities with South Korean capital Seoul moving up into fifth position and Australia's state capitals of Sydney and Melbourne taking the sixth and ninth positions respectively.

Apartment blocks stand in the suburb of Meadowbank in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017.
Brendon Thorne | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Apartment blocks stand in the suburb of Meadowbank in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017.

The aggressive growth of house prices in the so-called 'Lucky Country' has seen those in its largest city, Sydney, move up by 70.3 percent in the past five years as compared to movement in the average Australian wage which has edged only 13.2 percent higher, according to data crunched by Ben Phillips, an associate professor at the Australian National University.

The country is among several considering measures to make it more difficult for foreigners or speculators to buy, with the success of Vancouver's imposition during 2016 of a 15 percent tax on foreign buyers reflected in the slowdown seen in its pace of growth in this latest report.

Policymakers in another Canadian city, Toronto, have recently copied the measure in the hope of cooling growth there, where prices have raced up 22.2 percent in the past year, shooting the city up to third place.

Elsewhere, tinkering with taxes has likely impacted Singapore's ranking – where a reduction in stamp duty from 16 to 12 percent has accompanied a rise back up the list – and London's where high levels of stamp duty, alongside affordability, are often cited as a key factor behind the 6.4 percent fall in prime residential prices in the past year.

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