2016 was supposed to be the year that Hong Kong housing prices began to tumble, but the only thing falling seems to be new sales records for expensive flats, as an independent survey shows the city’s homes to be the least affordable in the world.
The Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey ranked Hong Kong at the least affordable city for the seventh year in a row, after comparing average housing prices to median income. The survey, which does not account for average home size or quality, showed that the median home in Hong Kong now costs a multiple of 18.1 times the median salary.
Hong Kong’s high prices compare to a multiple of 1.8 times the median salary in the most affordable market surveyed, Racine, Wisconsin. The independent research body defines any multiple of median home price to median salary of more than 5.1 as “severely unaffordable.”
Four Out of 10 Least Affordable Cities are in China
While the survey only directly collected data from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the US and the UK, it also pulled in third party data that showed mainland cities ranked just behind Hong Kong for housing misery.
Relying on an e-House report from 2015 (the most recent available) Beijing would rank as the second most unaffordable place to buy a house in the world, with the median home price coming in a 14.5 times the median salary. Shanghai came in just behind Beijing with a home price to salary multiple of 14.0 while Tianjin was at 10.0. In all, four of the ten least affordable cities in which to buy a home are in China.
Sydney Leads the Rest of the World
The most unaffordable place in the world to buy a home outside of China is Sydney, Australia, which suffers a housing price to salary multiple of 12.2. Coming in at fifth on the list was North America’s least affordable city, Vancouver, British Columbia, where the multiple was 11.8. In the US, Santa Cruz, California was home to the craziest housing prices, with a multiple of 11.6.
Singapore, which previously had seen home prices on the rise compared to media incomes, showed a median multiple of 4.8. While the survey still classifies this as seriously unaffordable, it is down from 5.1 in 2013, according to the report.
Hong Kong had started 2016 with many analysts predicting an end to the city’s housing bubble. After home prices slid in the first quarter of last year, Goldman Sachs predicted another 20 percent drop. By year-end, supported by continuing demand from mainland buyers and despite a newly-imposed stamp duty, housing prices in Hong Kong were flat compared to 2015.
For 2017, investment bank Macquarie predicts that home prices in Hong Kong will go up five percent, and a project in the city’s Kai Tak area that opened for sale last week sold all 122 units on the first day of sales.
For Shanghai, the extent of housing misery may be much greater than the survey shows with housing prices having risen more than 30 percent since the time of e-House’s 2015 housing price report.