Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Gloom beats boom as house prices fall faster here than anywhere else

By Thomas Molloy
Wednesday September 19 2012

IRISH house prices continue to fall faster than anywhere else in the world, the IMF says in a new report. The Greeks are next, while Germans and Brazilians are seeing steep price gains.
The three countries with the steepest declines in the 12 months to March, when adjusted for inflation, are the three bailout countries of Ireland, Greece and Portugal.
Spain, which has already received a banks bailout, and which is widely expected to seek a formal bailout sometime next month, had the fourth worst decline.
At the other end of the spectrum, house prices in booming Brazil are up more than 15pc while those in Germany have gained more than 10pc. Other countries which have also had increases include the Ukraine and the Philippines.
While plunging house prices have caused well-documented problems here, rising prices are also leading to widespread angst in Germany and Brazil, where many people have been priced out of the market and rents are soaring -- creating challenges for policy makers and worries about inequality.
The IMF working paper finds that Irish prices are no longer misaligned, but are still more expensive than countries such as Germany when wages and other factors are taken into account.
Australia, which is enjoying a commodity-inspired bubble, has the most "misaligned" prices in the world, according to the study of 54 countries.
While many believe that our house price collapse was the worst in the world, the IMF study suggests that Estonia holds that distinction.
House prices fell further in Estonia, the Ukraine and Lithuania.
However, declines here have continued for longer than most other countries, which means that we may yet chalk up the worst bust in history.
The report says that house prices in the US have started to pick up a little recently, but globally prices are still on a down trend. While overall the trend is mixed, there is no sign of an uptick in the global index of house prices.
The findings suggest that long-run price dynamics are mostly driven by local factors such as income and population growth. The effect of more globally connected factors such as interest rates appears to be less strong.
Credit market conditions can have an impact in the short run and, ultimately, when the correction starts, affect both financial stability and the overall economy.
House price growth can be explained by several short-run factors, such as growth in incomes, asset prices, and population, and long-run-factors, such as the ratio of house prices to incomes.
The difference between actual house prices and those predicted on the basis of these fundamental factors gives another indication of whether prices may have more room to fall.
- Thomas Molloy
Irish Independent

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