Here is our pick of the top 10 countries where to invest in property in 2019.
As “Asia’s World City”, the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China remains a cultural capital of the East. A vibrant arts scene coupled with a distinct dynamism Hong Kongers are so famous for makes it a fun place to live and work. With high economic freedom, high rents and a system that is pro-landlord (rents can be freely negotiated in the private sector, which comprises half of the rental market), it is the city where the affluent choose to park assets in the form of apartments as part of a diverse asset-safeguard strategy.
Stylish and picturesque, France has massive cultural appeal. And with good economic outlook (the French economy hit a decade-high growth of 2.3% in 2017) — driven by strong investments and exports — many are flocking to l’Hexagone to put their dollar in its property market. The country saw a long housing boom which lasted from 1997 to 2007, and while the market looks on the verge of a pause, house prices are still steadily rising. A high degree of economic freedom combined with the fact that there are no restrictions on foreign ownership in France and a certain je ne sais quoi makes it an irresistible place in which to invest, or to live — or both!
Fancy a holiday home right smack in the centre of a hive of creativity, art and economy? Well you better get in there quick — Germany’s housing prices are soaring, and has been for almost four years. Its charming medieval towns and large international cities; bull market; and high liveability (Munich is ranked no. 3 in Mercer’s Quality of Life Report) is essentially attractive to a lot of prospective investors. Residential property transaction volumes in Germany surged by 19% to US$10 billion in the first half of 2018. Low construction activity is one of the reasons houses are being snapped up, and the good news is that there is currently no real estate bubble that threatens financial stability in the country.
United States of America
2019 has been touted as a pivotal year for American housing and commercial real estate. While US property has fallen in value in years following the financial crisis, all 20 major US cities continued to experience house price hikes, with the Mountain region having the highest house prices increases of 7.44% y-o-y in November last year. Unique opportunities for foreign investors have arisen, such as capital growth potential and the affordability of the market, making it attractive to young investors. On top of that, many US properties are cash flow positive, meaning rental returns are relatively high and stable.
Good property rental yields, a stabilised property market and a buy-to-let rating of four stars — not to mention the Bahamas in all its glorious beauty: it’s no surprise why so many choose to invest in the country, with most foreign homebuyers coming from the US, Canada, France, Britain and Italy. Luxury home prices are on the rise — especially in capital Nassau — thanks in part to foreign investors who see the island nation as a safe investment. That it has no income, inheritance, capital gains or corporate taxes makes it all the more attractive. While the real estate market in the Bahamas is still recovering from the 2008 global financial crisis, luxury prices in the strongest markets have increased by $200 per square foot. And with its economy set to grow, residential construction is rising, as is its value.
While uncertainty over Brexit is clouding the UK market’s prospects, house prices remain steady — the annual real house price change was less than 1% in the third quarter of 2018, and has been at 28.26% over the last five years. Activity is expected to pick up once uncertainty over Brexit clears, so 2019 looks like a good year to put a penny into Old Blighty’s property market. Perks include UK law being pro-tenant, meaning landlords and tenants can freely agree on rent levels and any mechanism of increasing rent levels; and individuals who are not resident in the UK are not liable to capital gains tax on the sale of UK property unless they have been resident in the UK within the past five years. Fish and chips, anyone?
Sun, sea, sand, stability — it’s not hard to see why Australia is such a pleasant place to live. In 2018 three of the world’s most liveable cities were Down Under, namely Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. High quality of life, a strengthening economy, sound tenancy laws and moderate buying costs make it highly attractive to foreigners keen to invest in property. While reports fan uncertainty in Australia’s property market, it is worthwhile to note that properties outside the major cities are still very lucrative, with prices in areas such as South Coast remaining robust.
With a high buy-to-let star rating (the Global Property Guide pegs it at four stars), improving property market and rising mortgage approval rate, opportunities for investors and rent seekers are abound. According to Knight Frank Malaysia, the country’s property market experienced a pick-up in activities in the second half of 2018; several notable commercial investment activities were seen during the period, which is a sign of improving macro trend in the market. Liberal policies, reasonable valuations and no extra stamp duties make Malaysia’s properties highly attractive, and the fact that its cities have been named as best places in which to retire over the past few years sees the country continue to be a magnet for folks wishing to take advantage of the low cost of living, high connectivity and quality services such as medical and education facilities.
The little red dot is seeing its housing prices rise again, after four years of house price dips. As the housing market looks set to improve further, with investors being lured back into the market, there is no better time to invest in Singaporean property. Its robust economic growth, which is backed by the manufacturing sector, makes the country a popular place for expats to live, work and play. While rental yield is poor, it is most definitely not the reason for owning a condominium in the island nation; instead, like Hong Kong, Singapore is a safe haven with trusted institutions, making it a great place to park assets.
The Land of Smiles sees its housing market strengthening again, with a stronger economy and low interest rates. Land prices are also strongly increasing — the land price index rose by 7.92% y-o-y in the second quarter of 2018. Residential construction activity is surging, demand is robust and banks have eased lending criteria on mortgage loans. Rental yield is similarly lucrative, ranging from 5.0% to 8.0% in Bangkok; yields on medium-sized apartments and luxury properties have also significantly risen. Over on the islands that dot the Gulf of Thailand, things are looking sunny: in Koh Samui, the market looks positive for the long term, with high short-term rental yields of 10-20%. Mid-level priced luxury sea-view villas, high-level beachfront properties and prime beachfront land plots are all the craze, with prices catching up with Phuket in some cases!