Housing prices were up during the first quarter in 19 of 36 countries included in a survey of official house-price statistics compiled by online property research site Global Property Guide.
Global Property Guide calculates changes in real home prices after adjusting for inflation. While home prices in North America remained weak, "massive recoveries" under way in Hong Kong (up 27 percent from a year ago), Singapore (up 24 percent) and Taiwan (up 18 percent) could signal that a bubble is forming in Asia, the report warned.
Analysts have expressed concern about the rapid price appreciation in Hong Kong, "and there is a lot of very un-Hong Kong-like outrage at ‘speculators,’ " the report said.
In Europe, strong recoveries were underway in Finland (up 11 percent from a year ago), Norway (8 percent) and the United Kingdom (5 percent). Home prices in London were up nearly 16 percent from a year ago, the report said.
Norway’s recovery has been spurred by "a massive stimulus package and low interest rates," Global Property Guide said, although the Norges Bank raised a key short-term interest rate on May 6 by 0.25 percentage points, to 2 percent..
France and Germany saw more modest price appreciation — less than 1 percent after adjusting for inflation — but it was the second consecutive annual increase for France, the report said.
While year-over-year price declines were observed in Spain (-6 percent), Iceland (-14 percent), Lithuania (-22 percent) and Latvia (-32 percent), there were signs that those markets were bottoming, the report said. Latvia, for example, saw a 10.7 percent increase in home prices from the previous quarter.
Countries in "severe crisis that show no sign of recovery" include Ireland (-16 percent), Bulgaria (-19 percent) and Thailand (-20 percent), the report said, with political instability playing a role in Thailand’s downturn.
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