The world’s housing market decline accelerated during the March quarter, with house price falls in 26 countries and price gains in just 10.

Over the year, house prices had fallen in 24 of the 36 countries and rose in just 12 countries during the year to the first quarter of 2012, according to the Global Property Guide’s latest house price indices survey.

It noted that Australian house prices fell for the fifth straight quarter, to be down 6.04% from a year earlier, the longest downturn for a decade. It also noted the borrowing costs in Australia were the highest of major developed nations.

New Zealand prices climbed by 0.82% over the year to quarter 2012, after falling 4.79% the previous year, the report noted, suggesting NZ sales activity had been strong for the past few months, with volumes at the highest levels since 2007. The list of 36 countries was topped by the rapid rise of prices in India (Delhi) and Brazil (Sao Paulo), although momentum slowed during the latest quarter.

Over the year to quarter 1 2012, Delhi house prices skyrocketed by 24%, though during the last quarter, they fell 0.07%. House prices fell in some other Indian cities such as Chennai and Kolkata year-on-year, according to NHB Residex.

In Sao Paulo prices climbed by 18.7% in the year to the first quarter 2012. During the latest quarter there was a more moderate price rise of 2.57%.

The report recorded housing markets in Asia cooled over the year due to government measures implemented last year. Prices in Hong Kong were up 0.19% on the year, after a rise of 19.8% the previous year. There were falls in Indonesia (-0.13%), Singapore (-1.36%), Tokyo, Japan (-2.64%) and Shanghai, China (-3.68%).

Europe has yet to emerge from the downturn, highlighted by Ireland’s price declines, which GPG described as catastrophic.

“It is disheartening to see more agony, yet the picture really is alarming,” GPG said. “House prices fell 18.95% year-on-year, contrasting with a decline of ‘only’ 13.12% during the same period last year. Furthermore, house prices were down 5.19% during the latest quarter. Tough credit conditions, an oversupply of housing, and weak domestic demand have weighed down the Irish residential property market.”

The Global Property Guide’s statistical presentation uses price changes after inflation, giving a more realistic picture than the more upbeat nominal figures usually preferred by real estate agents.

*This article was originally published at Property Observer

Peter Fray

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