South Africa had the highest house-price increases in the past year among 23 nations monitored by ResearchWorldwide.com, a real estate information company.

Home prices jumped about 23.3 percent in South Africa from June 2004 to June 2005, the company reported. In Hong Kong, prices jumped about 21.4 percent from May 2004 to May 2005, the company reported. The United States was sixth on the list, with home prices up 14.7 percent from June 2004 to June 2005.

In an earlier ResearchWorldwide report on global home-price increases, the United States ranked eighth on the list, with a 10.5 percent increase from fourth-quarter 2003 to fourth-quarter 2004. ResearchWorldwide compiles the list from various sources, including The Economist magazine.

South Africa’s commercial real estate market has also been booming, the company reported, with a 23.4 percent year-over-year gain in the commercial market. ResearchWorldwide reported that low interest rates, a growing middle class and “the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth in half a century has contributed to the current housing boom in South Africa.”

New Zealand home prices increased 17.1 percent from June 2004 to June 2005 – the third-highest rate among the countries monitored by Research Worldwide. Spain was next on the list with a 15.5 increase from first-quarter 2004 to first-quarter 2005, followed by France with a 15 percent year-over-year gain.

Japan’s home prices sank 5.4 percent from first-quarter 2004 to first-quarter 2005, the company reported, while home prices in Germany dropped 1.3 percent and home prices in Israel dropped 0.7 percent.

While home prices gained 10.2 percent from February 2004 to February 2005 in the United Kingdom, price gains there slowed to 4.2 percent from June 2004 to June 2005.

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