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6 cities could face housing bubble


This is the strongest part of the U.S. economy

Housing markets across the globe are overheating, and some are at risk of a bubble.

Vancouver’s housing market is the most at risk, according to The UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index, thanks to skyrocketing home prices and strong buyer demand.

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London, Stockholm, Sydney, Munich and Hong Kong are also in bubble-risk territory, the report showed.

Low interest rates are a big contributor to inflating the potential bubbles.

Related: The 10 hottest housing markets for 2016

Home prices in the most at-risk cities have jumped by nearly 50% on average since 2011. At other major cities, prices have increased by less than 15%.

In Vancouver, prices have risen more than 25% since the end of 2014. A weak Canadian dollar brought strong demand from foreign buyers looking for investment opportunities. The market became so overheated that the government stepped in and passed a 15% property transfer tax on foreign buyers in August.

London is also in the bubble zone with prices sitting 15% higher than where they were at the 2007 peak, despite the fact that incomes are now 10% lower.

“If you look at Vancouver, London and Sydney, these are the markets that have attracted a lot of foreign money, particularly from Asia, that has been a lot of the driver,” said Jonathan Woloshin, strategist at UBS Wealth Management Americas.

Related: Here’s some good news for house hunters

Hong Kong isn’t quite as hot as it has been, but it’s still inflating. Incomes are flat, which has created affordability issues.

“You have a situation where a lot of people felt comfortable going back to Hong Kong ,but it’s an island so there’s not a lot of room to develop and demand is outstripping incomes.”

The report also found that all European cities are currently overvalued.

For instance, in Amsterdam, home prices grew at a rate of nearly 15% for the last four quarters, and are up 25% since its market bottomed in 2013. And in Frankfurt, prices are up 30% since 2011, while incomes have risen at a much slower pace.

“In this search for yield in a low-interest rate environment, it has pushed capital into real estate assets both in residential and commercial worlds,” said Woloshin.

While no U.S. cities made the bubble-risk list, some markets there are also heating up. For example, UBS deemed San Francisco’s housing market overvalued, as prices have risen 50% since 2011. Wages have also been strong in the area, increasing faster than the national rate, so affordability is still an issue.

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