By BETTINA WASSENER
Published: October 28, 2009
HONG KONG — Almost four years after swelling property prices started to collapse in the United States, giving rise to the most severe global financial and economic crisis in decades, the housing market remains depressed in many parts of the world — except in much of Asia.
Here, property prices have defied the global gloom, soaring this year as buoyant economic growth and low interest rates prompted an inflow of money into apartments and houses — as well as stock markets — across the region.
Earlier this month, a Hong Kong luxury apartment sold by the developer Henderson Land grabbed headlines when it sold for $55.6 million, at a price per square foot that had never before been seen in a city renowned for some of the world’s most expensive housing.
Over the past few weeks, regulators across the region have begun to announce small steps to keep a lid on property prices. Some investors are also now indicating that they are ready to take a break from the frenzy.
So far this year, residential prices in Singapore are up 15.9 percent, according to analysts at Macquarie. In Hong Kong, they are up 23 percent, and back at their March 2008 peak. Residential prices in most Chinese cities are at least 15 to 25 percent above the lows of a year ago, Macquarie estimates.
The rally has extended to emerging Asia’s stock markets, which have easily beaten Wall Street and Europe in their performance this year. As a result, Asia has also dominated global I.P.O. activity — though as Excellence’s decision and the lackluster performance of numerous recent debuts show, the oomph has now gone out of that market.
“We believe the market will normalize next year, but also, that it is unlikely to fall sharply again, despite increased regulatory controls by the authorities,” said Kevan Tsang, an analyst at the ratings agency Moody’s, referring to mainland China’s property market.