Housing Market Tracker - Global Housing Markets Review

by: Judy Weil

Here's our summary of articles and data points on the housing market. It's part of Seeking Alpha's coverage of the real estate market and homebuilder stocks. Like all other topics and stock coverage from Seeking Alpha, you can have this sent to your Blackberry or desktop email by signing up for our no-spam free email subscription service.

Quote of the Day

"I don't want to take advantage of a guy who's having trouble in the market and is losing his shorts. But I have no problem with a guy from California who bought on spec and has five houses in Arizona and never lived in them." (Denver Post, Dec. 16th) - Jason Sirockman of Edmonton, Alberta, one of many Canadians flocking to the U.S. to buy up now-cheaper real estate. The mortgage crisis, along with the strong Canadian dollar, have fueled a Canadian buying spree. (Denver Post, Dec. 16th)

A Global Housing Slump?

  • In Spain, Merger Talks Signal Pressure on Real-Estate Firms (Wall St. Journal, Dec. 17th): "Inmobiliaria Colonial SA, Spain's second-largest real-estate company [and one of the highest indebted]... said Friday it has held preliminary talks about a merger with Metrovacesa SA's Gecina, a French property company... Spanish housing prices have more than doubled since 1997. Spain last year built more homes than France, Germany and the U.K. combined... Construction accounts for around 18% of Spanish economic output... In September, Colonial was forced by its lenders to renegotiate the terms of a €6.41 billion ($9.24 billion) loan at a higher cost... Last week, it sold €150 million in property to help pay debt."

  • GE Real Estate to Invest $300 Million in Taiwan in Next 2 Years (Bloomberg, Dec. 17th): "General Electric Co.'s property arm, which has more than $62 billion of assets worldwide, plans to invest $300 million in Taiwan in the next two years... Jones Lang LaSalle: Grade A office space in Tokyo's central business districts offers a return on investment of 3.1%, while similar buildings in Taipei yield as much as 5.9%. GE Real Estate's Japan office... paid NT$684 million ($21 million) for a 12-story office building in Taipei... The value of office buildings in Taipei gained 20% in the past year as acquisitions by investors drove up prices, according to DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, a property consulting company."

  • Hines India Expects A Correction In Real Estate Markets (Live Mint, Dec. 16th): "New Delhi: The local unit of the US-based real estate firm Hines Interests Lp., Hines India Real Estate Pvt. Ltd, says it plans to be conservative in making investments because it believes the Indian real estate market is overheated and ready for a correction... Prices in India have seen a dramatic increase in the last two-three years, with values tripling in some of the top cities and industrial hubs, creating a new breed of rich among land owners, who in turn have bought more real estate for speculative gains. The rapid escalation in land prices suggests a bubble, says Daniel MacEachron, managing director, Hines India."

  • Canadians Looney For Homes In U.S. (Denver Post, Dec. 16th): "For moderate-income Canadians... the race is on to take advantage of the "loonie," which in September reached parity with the U.S. dollar for the first time since 1976. Many are combing the Internet for anxious American home sellers and looking with an investor's eye at the condos they rented while on vacation in sunbelt states... Canadian condo-builder Solterra Group of Companies... plans to snatch large chunks of land in Las Vegas. Michael Bosa, the company's VP for development and acquisition, said the loonie has bolstered his company's bids. Bosa: "We think we'll see more opportunities in the next 6-8 months."

  • Dizzying House Prices (China Daily, Dec. 15th) China: "Housing prices in 70 large- and medium-sized cities rose 10.5% year-on-year in November [and] 1 percentage point higher than that of October... undermining the government's efforts to stabilize house prices... The government has introduced a host of tightening measures to rein in soaring house prices, [like] a strict[er] definition of "second home" [and] a tight monetary policy to check credit growth... However, the latest house price data has proved it is only too premature to conclude that the property market has reached a turning point. The November figure indicates that the momentum of property price hikes in major cities remains strong."

  • Sarasota Developer Ramar Forms Partnership Brits (Herald Tribune, Dec. 15th) Florida: "Sarasota-based realty developer Ramar Group Companies Inc. announced Friday that it had formed a strategic partnership agreement with Savills, a large UK-based global real estate services provider. Broker Michael Saunders & Co. recently signed its second affiliation with a European realty firm, Mayfair International Realty, in an effort to tap into those strong currency markets for home buyers. In October, Saunders established a pipeline of potential luxury real estate deals from 20 of Europe's top firms through an exclusive trans-Atlantic affiliation with the European Real Estate Network... Lakewood Ranch-based realty brokerage RSVP Associates Inc. is the exclusive local agent for Savills."

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