Hottest & Coldest Luxury Housing Markets in the World

Prices boil over in some cities and hot air hisses out of others.

So how is the luxury housing market doing in the top cities around the world, as they’re facing “significant risks ahead in the form of rising debt, inflation, and greater housing market regulation?”

Knight Frank’s Prime Global Cities Index rose 4.8% over the 12 months through March, compared to a year earlier. But the index averaged out the drama playing out on the ground: In some cities, luxury  prices skyrocketed, and in other cities prices dropped sharply.

Seoul ranked number one on the index, with luxury house prices soaring 25% over the 12 months through March. Over the past six months alone, prices soared 20%, despite efforts by authorities to tamp down on these price surges, according to Knight Frank:

Across a large part of the city new macro prudential measures, including new taxes for owners of multiple properties and tighter lending restrictions, are cooling growth, but the prime area of Gangnam is still seeing strong speculative activity.

The ranking of the cities in the index is figured not in terms of absolute prices, but in terms of price growth. The index considers “luxury” those sales whose prices are in the top 5% in that market, except in US cities, where the index uses the “High Tier” index from CaseShiller, and in Tokyo where home sales over ¥100 million are deemed luxury.

The top two US cities are San Francisco and Los Angeles, ranked in 8th and 11th place respectively with price growth rates of 9% and 8% for the past 12 months. Luxury prices are barely ticking up in Miami and are stalling in New York.

Though overall home prices in Sydney and Melbourne are now down from a year ago, according to CoreLogic, as hot air is hissing out of their historic housing bubbles, prices at the luxury end of the market still increased 8.7% and 8.3% respectively – “with supply constraints supporting prime prices.” These price surges put both cities in the top ten.

The opposite is happening in super-bubble city Vancouver, where the lower end of the market (condos) is still seeing significant price increases, while the luxury market has just now begun to deflate, with prices down 7.6% over the past six month.

London’s famed oligarch-driven luxury housing boom is wheezing, with prices down 1.1% over the past 12 months, which is a terrible embarrassment. Knight Frank is looking for the silver lining: “In London, while the market remains sensitive to political events there is a sense of (relative) stability being restored.”

At the bottom of the list of 43 top cities is Stockholm, where luxury house prices dropped 8.4% over the past 12 months, with price drops accelerating: over the past six months along, prices have fallen 9%.

The table below shows the top 43 cities, ranked by changes in luxury home prices. The bottom 11 cities have experienced price declines over the past 12 months. The list also shows price changes over the past six and three months.

Rank by % price change  City 12-month % change 6-month % change 3-month % change
1 Seoul 24.7% 19.9% 11.6%
2 Cape Town 19.3% 8.6% 1.4%
3 Guangzhou 16.1% 2.4% 2.2%
4 Berlin 10.9% 5.8% 1.2%
5 Shanghai 10.9% 5.1% 3.9%
6 Paris 10.5% 1.1% 0.0%
7 Madrid 10.1% 4.0% 3.0%
8 San Francisco 9.0% 5.2% 1.0%
9 Sydney 8.7% 3.0% 0.9%
10 Melbourne 8.3% 2.0% 0.1%
11 Los Angeles 8.1% 2.7% 1.9%
12 Edinburgh 7.7% 4.7% 3.3%
13 Hong Kong 6.9% 2.7% 1.0%
14 Beijing 6.4% 3.7% 1.7%
15 Zurich 6.0% 3.1% 0.4%
16 Singapore 5.8% 5.9% 2.1%
17 Frankfurt 4.2% 1.5% -0.4%
18 Toronto 4.2% 6.0% 4.2%
19 Brisbane 3.6% 3.0% 0.1%
20 Tokyo 3.4% 1.9% -0.7%
21 Perth 2.8% 1.4% 0.1%
22 Miami 2.8% 0.7% 1.1%
23 Dublin 2.6% 1.0% 0.6%
24 Bangkok 2.3% -0.4% -2.0%
25 Geneva 1.8% 0.7% -1.0%
26 Jakarta 1.2% 0.4% 0.0%
27 New York 1.0% -0.8% 0.4%
28 Mumbai 0.6% -0.1% 0.0%
29 Vienna 0.4% 0.4% 0.2%
30 Milan 0.4% 0.0% 0.0%
31 Vancouver 0.2% -7.6% -1.8%
32 Rome 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
33 Nairobi -0.9% -1.8% -1.8%
34 Kuala Lumpur -1.0% -0.8% -0.6%
35 London -1.1% -0.6% -0.5%
36 Moscow -1.4% 2.8% 2.2%
37 Istanbul -1.8% -5.5% -5.6%
38 Bengaluru -2.3% -1.7% -0.1%
39 Tel Aviv -2.4% -4.8% -5.9%
40 Delhi -4.0% 0.8% 0.0%
41 St. Petersburg -4.0% 0.3% 0.2%
42 Taipei -7.4% -4.8% -4.5%
43 Stockholm -8.4% -9.0% -3.9%

Knight Frank obtained the data from its global network except for Tokyo (Ken Corporation); New York (StreetEasy); Los Angeles, Miami, and San Francisco (S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller); Tel Aviv (Israel Central Bureau of Statistics); Berlin and Frankfurt (Immobilienscout); Stockholm (Svensk Maklarstatistik); Toronto (Real Estate Board of Toronto); Vancouver (Vancouver Real Estate Board); Zurich and Geneva (Wüest Partner). Price changes are calculated in local currency.

And here’s an update on rents in the US. Chicago’s are collapsing, New York’s are swooning, and Southern California’s are booming. Read… Update on the Most Splendid Rental Bubbles & Crashes in the US

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  33 comments for “Hottest & Coldest Luxury Housing Markets in the World

  1. William Smith says:

    I am constantly shocked by the ridiculous rise in house prices in Sydney & Melbourne. I live there and thus can comment. australia is nobody in the middle of nowhere. Its great claim to fame is as a big hole in the ground for the asian raw materials markets. It might also have managed to accidentally foist a few actors onto Hollywood. Manufacturing and R&D has been successfully offshored/destroyed by successive governments and much red tape has been deployed against any attempts at innovation. To think that the local housing stock can be reasonably valued at anything comparable to that in the US or the big centers such as London or Berlin is completely ludicrous. If one is sensible, one gets out as soon as possible (Atlassian) as simply nothing happens here except the government driven national house price speculation game. The government used to tout it as the “clever country” but ironically the reverse is actually the case. Unless one is a sports idiot (jock), one has no cultural value at all. Thus innovation and the arts and science is actively discouraged here and is the reason why many need to leave to further their knowledge based careers in a more conducive environment. I have worked for US companies here (Bridge Financial & Dunn & Bradstreet) and the difference in corporate culture is staggering. It is truly Hicksville here. We are currently in the middle of the “mother of all housing bubbles” and if “jingle mail” were allowed here, we would be seeing a very big crash. However, here the banks can pursue you even to the depths of hell to get their funds back. So I am intrigued as to how it will eventually pop. Of course, many will vehemently disagree with me and that is their right.

    • Lee says:

      Actually William, I’ve lived here for a little over 22 years and for the most part like it. It has its problems and they have become worse over time.

      It could be much better and in many ways was much better when we came.

      If someone comes to Australia now one would find a much different country. It is more expensive in all respects and as you indicate housing is ridiculous.

      Years ago Sydney and Melbourne were expensive, but other parts of the country were cheap. Toorak and Brighton were always the tony places to live in Melbourne and the prices matched their reputation.

      What has changed is the huge inflow of people into the country. As I posted in another article the population of Melbourne has gone from around 3 million to just under/over 5 million since we came here.

      Sydney – I don’t know and I don’t care. (It has much better beaches and views around the bay and coastal areas than Melbourne, but that is about it!!)

      Demand for RE has surged as people moved here. It is a simple case of supply (not enough) and demand (huge). Look at the price of RE in areas where the demand from Chinese arrivals is high: prices have gone through the roof.

      Glen and Mount Waverley and Box Hill have seen prices soar by 10 times as the Chinese moved in. When we came to Melbourne we looked at the Glen Waverley area, but the houses were generally old, small, and on small lots. Transport wasn’t that good either. Schools were ok, but not that great either at that time.

      Schools became better and more Chinese moved in pushing up demand for houses in the Glen Waverley school district area. It became a mecca for Chinese moving to Melbourne and the prices of houses soared.

      For a family moving into those areas it made/makes economic sense to plonk down a high price for a house to get their kids into the good public schools for ‘free’ rather than pay out A$25,000 or more a year in tuition per child to one of the ritzy private schools. When the kids finish school they still have an asset to sell at a high price (probably, maybe??)

      When I moved here the car fleet was old, crappy, and you rarely saw many imported ‘luxury’ cars in areas outside the tony suburbs. Now they are all over the place.

      The country has become ‘rich’, but unfortunately many people here are still not well off.

      Australia has a much better medical system than in many other countries and is good from a cost point of view for many things. Emergency care is free and in general you won’t go bankrupt from getting sick.

      The bad part of the system is that if you do get sick and have to wait for public specialist care or a hospital operation for routine non-life threatening illnesses, you’ll be waiting a long time. Dental care isn’t covered under the public system and is very costly unless you are a special case.

      Schools used to be decent, but in general over time the public school system has been dumbed down. The same problems that have infected schools in the USA have made it over here. There are some really good public schools, but those are the exception.

      Private schools? The really exclusive ones are priced at ridiculous levels. Catholic and other church related schools offer very good value for money and are still reasonable in terms of tuition and values.

      Crime and safety? It used to be much better, but as the population has increased and people from certain areas have moved here the amount of crime has increased. We never heard of car jackings and home invasions on a regular basis until a few years ago.

      Gangs were around in the bigger cities, but generally stayed in certain areas. Now the entire Melbourne area seems to infected with them. The drug problem is getting worse as well, but nothing like in the USA.

      Politicians? Well, what can one say? They are politicians. Overall much better than the crap in the USA especially the idiots that show up in the US House and Senate.

      Unfortunately, the way the system works here we’ll never have an outsider to shake up and change things that need to be changed.

      The Gillard, Rudd, and Turnbull governments have been big disappointments. They wrecked the fiscal position of the Federal government and ran up huge debts.

      Weather? Generally pretty good for the most part. Much better than those other places that the Chinese like in Canada such as Toronto and Vancouver!!

      Roads and Trains: pathetic and getting worse.

      However, if you can make it to retirement and have your own home Australia is a good place to retire – much better than the USA.

      And maybe, just maybe one day the RE market will eventually have a crash and the doomsayers will be proven right after being wrong for the past what 20 or 30 years???

      In any event we’ll be staying here in nowhere, hicksville, Australia and enjoy our life as we grow old.

      • Lee says:

        Just got back from taking the mutt for a walk. The latest house to go on the market in our area now has a sold sign on it.

        About two weeks from listing to under contract to sold. A cash sale.

        The closest house now on the market from us is about 500 meters away and is listed at A$1.8 million – it is on the main road and looking for a developer to do a knockdown and build townhouses.

        That area of the market is a little slow.

        Another house further away took about three weeks to go under contract. Was listed for $1.25 million and will have to see what the final price was.

        No other houses within 1.5 kilometers of us for sale now.

        The only thing I do notice is that it is more difficult to find out what houses were sold for. Often prices are not displayed and it takes a little work to find out. The other strange thing is that there are houses being sold, but they don’t show up on the equivalent of what you Yanks call the MLS.

        For sale sign goes up, sold sign goes up, no advertising, no prices, and the new people move in………………….

      • John says:

        Amazing how unlimited fiat currency with no inherent value can create temporary booms that nobody can understand isn’t it?

        • jo says:

          Yes John!
          Its pretty fn obvious!!
          I’m 6th generation aussie(indigenous non abo white fella), grew up in the bush, lived in Melbourne & Brisbane etc.
          Supply & demand??? OF & FOR credit via government policy!!
          Melbourne was always an awesome city to live in despiter being in the wrong spot with all the serious crims, while the white shoe brigade lived in Sydney with the corrupt Canberra pollies.
          RE agents via banks stopped advertising distressed properties as such, years ago.
          This “pop” will break all who were to greedy to become their own central bank.

    • Lee says:

      Here are a couple of article about Sydney RE. Sydney and NSW have always been in ‘a class of their own’ when it comes to price.

      First, overall it appears that the general market in Sydney is having problems, but the top end of town isn’t. Top end means $10 million plus.

      Second, prices there have always been high. The second article talks about prices in an area in 2005. Even back then prices were in the A$1 plus range for properties outside the city, but near he beach with views. Now 13 years later the price there has more than doubled to A$2.5 million.

      Third, Melbourne clearance rates have also fallen to just over 60% so the market is slowing down here as well. I’d have to check the rates from the same time a year ago to see how much it has changed, but probably not much as it is again entering one of those quiet periods just before winter starts in a few weeks.

      My little area has never really used auctions to sell most properties and the results are usually no sale anyway. Those that do try and sell at auction are usually developer type properties or the higher end of the market A$2 million plus jobs where the clearance rate is about 50% or lower at auction. What happens it they usually get listed as a normal sale after auction and sell that way later.

      Sydney Auction rates:

      About Seaforth near Sydney:

      “Give or take a few minor blips, the median house price has followed an upward trajectory since 2005, when it was $1.015 million.

      The median house price is now $2.48 million, and for units it’s $1.45 million.”


      And about the upper end of town:

      “There are more buyers around at the moment in the $10 million range than in the $1 million to $2 million range,” said Alexander Phillips, of Phillips Pantzer Donnelley, who sold the Bronte designer residence of ASX general manager Grant Lovett and his wife Cheryl O’Neill this week for $11 million. ”

  2. Lee says:

    “and in Tokyo where home sales over ¥100 million are deemed luxury.”


    Starting at US$1 million is considered luxury? (Maybe a mistake in that number???????)

    You’ll pay more than US$1 million for a decent 2 bedroom condo in many buildings in Tokyo.


    I wouldn’t consider a house in Shinjuku on less than 200 square meters of land for around US$2.25 million really ‘luxury’.

    I’d suggest that for a ‘luxury’ house in Tokyo you’d have to make that 100 million into more like 1 billion yen at least.

    And just FYI, new stats out today show that lending for all types or residential RE in Oz has fallen.

    NSW is still leading the country in nutty house prices and Melbourne is still second.

    Guess the price of this house on mid north coast area of NSW:

  3. Rob says:

    London is definitely falling in the property price levels above say £750k inside M25 and £500k outside. Nothing dramatic just grinding steadily lower.

    Hong Kong should pop on Chinese tightening and HKMA letting HIBOR rise in line with Libor

  4. SimplyPut7 says:

    Easy credit is drying up in Toronto, under the new mortgage rules if a family makes 100k and has a down payment of 50k they could only look for a house that cost 400k.

    There are two problems with this: 1) no house sells for 400k in Toronto, very few condos sell for this price, 2) the median household income is only 75k which means most people don’t qualify to buy the 400k home.

    The shadow banking sector is still giving money but with some mortgage rates at over 9%, that’s not sustainable for very long.

  5. Rob says:

    You also have the myth of the all-cash buyer. I worked in a private bank and prime and super prime for rent were bought with max leverage and I suspected the deposits were borrowed in the home country anyway.

    If you look at mortage data (CML postcode data in the UK) you can see in the last 5 years some areas of London like Holland Park have seen mortgage debt increase 25% vs almost no new supply.

  6. blindfaith says:

    Cape Town….you must be pulling my leg. I’d call that place a time bomb.

    I have lived in many places that had charm and special interests such as an art community, theater, architecture, natural beauty, and wonderful locals Regular folks live there, make it a nice community to live in, and then can’t shut up about how wonderful it is. That opens the doors to the rich and bored. Soon they flock in, buy it up, make it just like the last place they escaped from and get bored again. Then the ‘got to rub shoulders with the rich’ crowd buys in at top dollar, have little to ‘share’ with the rich who own so now everyone is bored. So, before the word gets out, the rich sell and move on to the next place Conte Nast says is the new hot spot for charm, the arts, natural beauty, and wonderful locals.
    The city size doesn’t matter, there are ‘quaint boroughs’ even there.

    It is like ‘blight’ in reverse, except the place has become sterilized. And you can thank the Central Banks for this gift no matter where you are in this world.

  7. raxadian says:

    Did you know a lot of luxury houses for sale are horribly build?

    So that’s why I think, Condos are for idiots. If you have money get to build your own home. If you don’t then you don’t.

    And always talk to more than one guy about the house design.

  8. Rates says:

    I was just in Taipei last year and people were complaining about housing prices. It’s interesting that the time I visited marked some sort of a peak.

    It’s a very livable city. Wouldn’t mind living there if there’s a good job.

  9. jon says:

    Home prices are still not going down in USA despite touching the highs at least for the medium priced homes.
    In San Diego, a decent middle class home cost you close to a million dollar.

    • Frederick says:

      Depends on where you’re talking about In certain areas they are surely going down but NOT on the West coast evidently I look at Zillow all the time and notice a lot of houses have recently dropped their asking prices and still aren’t selling

  10. ewmayer says:

    As with movements in governments bonds of various durations, the contrast between the 3,6 and 12-month price changes is interesting here – still lots of bubbly price rises YoY, but if one averages the 3-month column figures (fraught, I know, due to the disparate total sizes of the various markets in question) one gets a 3-month average of a mere +0.4%, and if one excludes the outlier Seoul from that average, one gets a 3-month 42-city aggregate of +0.1, which is statistically indistinguishable from ‘unchanged’. One might suspect seasonality (e.g. ‘spring selling season’) to be factor in the 3-month stats as it is for (say) US housing-price stats, but since the list here consists of a decent mix of large metros in both the northern and southern hemispheres, that would seem to negate that aspect.

  11. Tom Stone says:

    Prices for luxury homes and estates in Western Sonoma County have just begun to fall.
    2/3 of the listing are above $1MM and more than 1/3 above $1.25 MM which is the beginning of the true high end.
    The market has slowed throughout the County, but it is most noticeable on the high end.
    More days on market, more price reductions and more inventory.
    Higher interest rates, the change in the tax laws and a whole lot less money from insurance companies than many expected…the percentage of those who can afford to rebuild homes in the sub $1MM price tiers is a lot lower than expected.
    If you have a level, ready to build lot you can go with one of Chistopherson’s five plans and get good quality at $270 per Sq Ft.
    Bids are running from there to $800 per Sq Ft.
    Materials prices are rising…

  12. Bobber says:

    I’m thankful I’m near retirement and won’t have to live in the big city anymore. There are some great second tier cities in the U.S. that still have houses going for $100-$150 per square foot. For $600k you can buy a very nice house. Think Midwest and South.

    • Rob says:

      Bobber what do you think about Miami and surrounding areas and the Bahamas?

      • Bobber says:

        I don’t know much about Miami, but it seems too big for me as a retirement location. I sense prices are high there too.

        Bahamas and other foreign locations sound interesting. It would be nice to experience a culture outside of the U.S. for a change where everything doesn’t evolve so much around quarterly EPS.

        • Rob says:

          Puerto rico is you move there has almost no taxes and must be cheap now. Peter Schiff spends the winter there.

      • Max Power says:

        Miami is the exception when it comes to affordability in the Southeast. Probably due to a it’s “coolness factor” (in a warm city :) and larger percentage of foreign buyers driving up demand as compared to just about every other larger (say 1.5mil pop & above) metro area in the Southeast.

        Despite recent housing costs increases, housing is still relatively affordable in Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Nashville, etc.

    • Frederick says:

      True dat Raleigh NC being a perfect example There are thousands to choose from

  13. MC01 says:

    I am genuinely surprised prices have raised so little in Zurich. Perhaps due to the weak ChF part of the deals are settled in euro?

    Apart from inflation (which shows very well in the data about Geneva, where inflation is the only thing keeping an otherwise stagnating market slightly moving; and make no mistake about it: it’s biting just like the BNS intended) Zurich has become a very peculiar market.

    The stock of housing left vacant by fleeing Russians has been mostly used up by now and the city has become hot for three reasons.
    First and foremost, companies are migrating internally from other Cantons (such as Geneva or Ticino) to take advantage of fiscal incentives Zurich is offering.
    Second, some big multinational headquartered in or around Zurich are expanding their operations there. Takeda is probably the most active right now as she prepares to acquire Shire, whose mainland European operations will be moved from Zug to Zurich (albeit exactly when will be decided when the EU antitrust will give the green light).
    Third, Switzerland is just one of several European countries which are trying to steal of piece of action from Ireland in the airline/aircraft leasing business. The new subsidiary companies are mostly headquartered in Kloten, where the Zurich airport is located.

    Executives don’t like living in huts on the mountainside or deep into the woods. And besides that Kloten is a dreary place. They want to live in a big city with plenty of luxury/hipster places, just like Zurich. I’ve never understood that attitude (and my latest business trip confirmed to me I could never live in a big city, albeit I like the ready availability of good Asian food and good live music) but it’s their money and their company’s, so I let them be until I have to book a hotel in or near Zurich. Then I can become really rude.

    6% in a year, considering the wheeling and dealing, especially in luxury housing, is not much, especially if deals were sealed in rapidly devaluating ChF.
    Let’s just wait until the Takeda-Shire deal is closed and then we’ll see.

  14. IrishinAthens says:

    I have been watching the real estate market in the southern tier of NY state for a relative. In one county, only six pieces of real estate sold to date in 2018 and they were all under the accessed tax value by 40 to 60 percent. More are listed for sale below the appraisal value, but have been on the markets for a considerable amount of time. Many look like real estate flippers getting stung, one even took out a huge loan after buying a foreclosed property and in three months was in default with the property still in a shambles listed as a foreclosure again. Gives new definition to bank fraud.

    When you live in a state that believes everything should be free up to and including two years of college, the property owners get ripped off by paying inflated property taxes and then realize crushing dreams of seeing their nest egg dwindle when the house they live in has just been inflated for tax reasons that reflect nothing about the reality of the real estate market or prevailing wages for the area.

    And to think the worst is yet to come. Good luck NY, you voted in these socialist dummies.

  15. Gershon says:

    Rents have collapsed 12% in Queens. Is this a leading indicator of the impending implosion of Housing Bubble 2.0?

    • Frederick says:

      Collapsed 12% from an inflated bubbly price so what’s wrong with that? Still wouldn’t want to live in Queens unless it was Forest Hills maybe and that’s WAY out of my price range I lived in areas east of Manhattan for 60 years and I’m glad to be outta there

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