UBS lays out cities most at risk of overheated property markets

"Most households can no longer afford to buy property in the top financial centres without a substantial inheritance". Sound familiar to Zurich and Geneva dwellers? Keystone

An index by Swiss bank UBS shows significant risks of real estate bubbles in booming cities such as Hong Kong, Munich and Toronto. The Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva remain relatively stable.

This content was published on September 27, 2018

The 2018 Global Real Estate Bubble IndexExternal link, published on Thursday, found that bubble (or overvaluation) risk soared in Munich, Amsterdam and Hong Kong over the past year; the latter tops the scale as most at risk.

The report also pointed to Vancouver, San Francisco and Frankfurt as cities where “imbalances continued to grow”.

At the other end of the scale, Stockholm and Sydney experienced the steepest drop and moved out of bubble risk territory, the report said. Property markets in Boston, Singapore and Milan also seem “fairly valued”, while Chicago is undervalued.

Although the bank warned that many of the financial centres analysed remain at risk of housing bubbles, the situation is not comparable to pre-2007 financial crisis.

“In contrast to the boom of the mid-2000s, no global evidence of simultaneous excesses in lending and construction exists,” the bank wrote.


Meanwhile, in Switzerland, where UBS looked at the two major hubs of Zurich and Geneva, home prices remain “lacklustre”.

In Zurich, prices have continued to increase with “favourable financing conditions and rising incomes”, though buying a medium-tier property in the city only pays off after 36 years – the lowest rental yield of all cities in the report.

In Geneva, prices have dropped slightly, mirroring an overall cooling of the Swiss property market. Yet the city remains “undersupplied”, the report states, with construction slow. Just 3% of all housing units have been built in the past decade – three times less than in Zurich.

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