When it comes to property bubble risks, Toronto is on the rise.
According to UBS Group AG’s annual Real Estate Bubble Index, the disparity between a growing population and increasingly limited housing has moved Toronto to second from third place in the UBS index.
But Toronto’s not No.1. That honour falls to Munich. And with prices becoming more unsustainable, Paris and Frankfurt are also under increasing pressure. The report indicates that the overall risk of a property bubble in the euro zone rose in 2018 because ultra-low interest rates helped drive up house prices.
Mark Haefele, chief investment officer at UBS Global Wealth Management told Bloomberg News: “On a global level, economic uncertainty is outweighing the effect of falling interest rates on urban housing demand. However, in parts of the euro zone, low rates have still helped to push real estate valuations into bubble risk territory.”
The report, released Monday, also noted that the bubble threat in some of the priciest cities around the world cooled.
Surprisingly, London is no longer seen as dangerously overvalued. From a mid-2016 peak as uncertainty hovered over the U.K.’s exit from the European Union and property taxes increased, prices there have been falling. Hong Kong, once considered the leader for a bubble, has also cooled.
The key factor blamed in the report for forcing up the prices of real estate in many cities is lower interest rates. The increases have driven investors away from bonds and into other assets.
Matthias Holzhey, chief author of the study and head of Swiss real estate investments at UBS Global Wealth Management, warned investors to “remain cautious when considering housing markets in bubble-risk territory. Regulatory measures to curb further appreciation have already triggered market corrections in some of the most overheated cities.”
As for the U.S. housing market, no cities were at risk of overheated prices for the first time since 2011.
For Hong Kong, the site of seemingly unending political protests, the report didn’t collect data beyond the second quarter before the unrest took off. The city remains, however, at risk of a bubble, the report said, despite a reported recent slowdown in property sales and prices.