By Guy Norton of bne in Zagreb
If there’s a subject guaranteed to provoke impassioned debate in Croatia, it’s golf. Millions of people around the world may regard the game as Scotland’s greatest gift to humanity after single-malt whisky, but in Croatia it’s more often seen as one of the darkest evils of global capitalism. Opponents of about 90 proposed golf course developments in the country are keen to characterise golf as the sport of choice for global property speculators willing to wreak long-term environmental damage on Croatia in pursuit of short-term profit.
There is nothing that the west – and we in the western media – love to hate more than when Chinese money threatens to take a chunk of the free media that we see as a cornerstone of our democracies. So when a Chinese recycling millionaire said he was buying the New York Times, we either squealed with outrage or denounced it as a publicity stunt (which it seems that it was).
Real estate can be an alluring post-crisis investment. Just ask punters who poured money into the US market a couple of years ago, or those now sniffing around Spanish property. The same applies to central European real estate, which last year saw a 31 per cent increase in investments, to €10bn.
That makes 2013 the second busiest year for transactions since pre-crisis 2008.
This square foot is yours for $194
We often see reports of the world’s most expensive cities. But what about the most expensive bits of the most expensive cities?
A new list compiled by property company Jones Lang LaSalle brings us a view of the priciest places to work in some very pricey cities.
China’s house prices are surging – sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
But even by the country’s standards, September’s figures are quite staggering. Five cities recorded year-on-year growth of over 16 per cent (Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Xiamen and Beijing). Compared to just six months ago, it looks pretty frothy.
My bubble's bigger than your bubble
Rising house prices and property bubbles are something of a UK obsession. But for all the help to buy worries, house prices rose by just 1.4 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter, according to estate agents Knight Frank.
The figure for London is much higher, of course. But for a housing boom of far greater magnitude, just take a look at Asia.
Wealthy Russians buying mansions overseas is hardly new: just see London. Now Cape Town is becoming one of the target cities, spurred by the lifestyle and scenery – and helped by the rand’s decline that is making high-end property that bit cheaper.
Luxury property giants Sotheby’s International Realty in South Africa says buyers from Germany and England are still interested, but the Russians are beginning to get noticed as well.
As the Indian rupee hits record lows against the dollar, there are all sorts of knock-on effects. Perhaps take a holiday to India or remit savings to relatives in the country where the dollar goes much further?
Or perhaps invest in property? Jones Lang La Salle, the property services company, expects Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) will take advantage of the cheap rupee by investing in real estate.
The Indian authorities, as part of its effort to ease a chronic shortage of affordable housing, this week boosted a scheme that allows developers and housing finance companies to use overseas commercial loans to fund low-cost homes.
The central bank changed its regulations to make it easier for borrowers to qualify for such lending. But does external finance policy actually work?
Travellers have long looked upon Mexico as mainly a “sol y playa” (sun and beach) destination.
But given a recent spate of hotel acquisitions over the past three months, that stereotype might need some revisiting. Mexico is no longer just for leisure travellers, it’s also becoming something of a business destination.
Where are Chinese buyers of foreign property putting their money? London, that’s where.
Chinese real estate investment in Europe this year has already hit €2.2bn versus €2bn for the whole of last year, with London the prime target, according to a LaSalle Investment Management/ Real Capital Analytics report. In fact, London accounts for 80 per cent of all Chinese property investment in Europe over the past five years. Another reason why prices aren’t falling.
The world’s wealthy come to New York to shop – from Louis Vuitton handbags and Gucci shoes to Tiffany jewelry. And oh – let’s not forget those gleaming office towers.
News that Zhang Xin, the founder of Bejing developer SOHO China, and members of Brazil’s Safra banking empire are buying a 40 per cent stake in the iconic General Motors Building in Manhattan for around $1.4bn, has drawn renewed attention to the role of foreign investors – particularly those from emerging markets – in New York’s commercial property sector.
It may look like a belated internal housekeeping job, coming long after rivals did the same thing. But the Philippine SM Group’s announcement on Friday that it will combine its various real estate businesses with its shopping mall operations under one company is making a big splash.
Stock exchange trading for the group’s four publicly-listed vehicles was suspended to make way for the announcement of the creation of the country’s largest property company.
China’s property market is suddenly looking a whole lot hotter.
A new housing index covers more cities than any other available gauge, reaching into many of the smaller towns where development has been most frenetic. And lo and behold it has produced a striking conclusion: that property prices are rising twice as fast as official data suggests.
If you had an indebted, loss making property development business in a market that was saturated with supply and you asked your local government to cough up a reasonable chunk of money to take it off your hands, what do you think would happen?
Well, if your name is Weixian Wang and your business is in Shanghai, it seems the government says ‘ Yes!’