These Global Cities Show the Highest Real Estate Bubble Risk

These Global Cities Show the Highest Real Estate Bubble Risk

Housing bubbles are a tricky phenomenon. As a market gathers steam and prices increase, it remains a matter of debate whether that market is overvalued and flooded with speculation, or it’s simply experiencing robust demand.

Of course, once a bubble bursts, it’s all obvious in hindsight.

One common red flag is when prices decouple from local incomes and rents. As well, imbalances in the real economy, such as excessive construction activity and lending can signal a bubble in the making.

The map above, based on data from the Real Estate Bubble Index by UBS, examines 25 global cities, scoring them based on their bubble risk.

Overinflated Markets

In the 2022 edition of the Real Estate Bubble Index, nine of the cities covered were classified as having extreme bubble risk (1.5 or higher score).

Canada’s largest city finds itself at the top of a ranking no city wants to end up on. Toronto’s home prices have been rising steadily for years now, and many, including UBS, believe that the city is now firmly in bubble territory.

Chart showing Toronto's rising home prices

Vancouver also finds itself in a similar position. Both Canadian cities have a high quality of life and have thriving tech industries.

Notably, none of the U.S. cities analyzed find themselves in the most extreme bubble risk category. The closest scoring U.S. city was Miami, which sits firmly in overvalued territory (0.5-1.5 range) with a score of 1.39.

Examining the Trends

In recent years, low interest rates helped push home prices and incomes further apart.

For cities in the bubble risk zone, prices have climbed by an average of 60% in inflation-adjusted terms over the past decade, while rents and real incomes increased by just 12%. And, while COVID-19 briefly put a dent in urban demand, rents in the cities analyzed rose at around the same pace as pre-pandemic times.

As a result, all but three of the cities saw positive price growth over the past year from a nominal price perspective:

Chart showing real estate price growth rates in global cities in 2021

U.S. cities occupy a number of spots at the top of this chart. Miami, in particular, is seeing strong internal migration patterns, as well as renewed interest from foreign investors.

Hong Kong experienced the biggest one-year nominal drop of all the cities analyzed. The report notes that since around 2019 Hong Kong “has broadly stagnated as the lack of affordability, economic woes, and pandemic restrictions all took a major toll on demand.”

Prices can’t rise forever. According to UBS, most cities with high valuations, price corrections have already begun, or could be right around the corner.

Dubai on track to become one of the ‘wealthiest cities in the world:’ Report

Home to over 65,000 millionaires, the emirate is strengthened by economic contributions from the financial services, oil and gas, real estate, travel and tourism, technology, and healthcare industries
Image: Shutterstock

Dubai has been recorded as the 23rd most popular city in the world for ultra-wealthy residents, a new report by Henley & Partners said.

The emirate saw an 18 percent rise in high net worth individuals (HNWI) over the first six months of 2022.

HNWIs in Dubai also rose by 3.8 percent from 54,000 to 67,900 in June 2021, as reported by New World Wealth, a South African global wealth intelligence firm, which tracks the movement and spending patterns of the wealthy across the world.

This placed the emirate as the richest city in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) and the 29th wealthiest in the world according to New World Wealth.

The report added that the millionaire population of Dubai are growing quickly, and is expected to break into the top 20 wealthiest cities by 2030, according to New World Wealth’s head of research, Andrew Amoils.

“Dubai currently ranks 23rd globally and is already home to 67,900 millionaires, 202 centi-millionaires (those with net assets of $100 million or more), and 13 billionaires,” Amoils said, adding the emirate’s economy is the key reason for its growth in numbers.

The report said that the ultra-rich often reside in the “affluent parts of Dubai” such as Emirates Hills, Jumeirah Golf Estates, and Palm Jumeirah.

Recently, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) launched a hub for family businesses and ultra-high net worth individuals to assist them in legacy and succession planning.

The centre, will provide private wealth support services, those of which include advisory and concierge services, education and training, high-end networking, and dispute resolution assistance.

The report said that the ultra-rich often reside in the “affluent parts of Dubai” such as Emirates Hills, Jumeirah Golf Estates, and Palm Jumeirah

Additionally, in June this year, it was reported by New World Wealth that the UAE expected to overtake countries like US and UK for the world’s wealthy, by attracting the largest net inflows of millionaires globally in 2022.

The reason for this is because the country has placed itself as an international hub “with a high-income economy and a reputation for being the safe oasis in the Middle East and Africa region,” Amoils said.

With a robust economic flow in all sectors such as financial services, oil and gas, real estate, travel and tourism, technology, and healthcare, the country.

Amoils added: “In terms of lifestyle, the UAE is a renowned luxury hub, with top-end apartments and villas and world-class shopping malls and restaurants. For those with children, there are excellent international schools, and many beaches with yachting, water sports, and other leisure activities.”

Dubai: Dh47 billion worth of residential property sold in second quarter of 2022

Dubai’s prime residential property market witnessed stable growth in the second quarter, thanks to major investment from Northern European investors.

According to the latest report released by Luxhabitat Sotheby’s, demand for apartments outstripped villas in the second quarter as the overall market volume surged by close to 10 per cent when compared to Q1 2022, with a total of 13,857 apartments, 1,836 villas and 4,166 townhouses sold at a total value of Dh47 billion.

After the pandemic in 2020, demand for villas had seen a massive increase as people started to look for bigger spaces due to work-from-home and restrictions on the movement of the people. But apartments are again seeing strong demand as the number of coronavirus cases stays low in the country.

“Buyers from Northern European are the top investors who have bought the prime property in Dubai. With more ultra-high net worth individuals (UNHNWIs) moving to the UAE, we expect stable growth in the prime and luxury segment. Encouraged by UAE’s positive economic indicators, buyers are finding property investments a safe hedge against high inflation. We expect demand to continue along similar lines into Q3 2022,” said Chris Whitehead, managing partner of Luxhabitat – Sotheby’s International Realty.

The latest Savills Prime Residential Index results showed Dubai ranked fourth for prime residential capital growth in the first half of 2022. The emirate was the only city in the top five list which is dominated by US cities.

The emirate is also expected to attract 4,000 millionaires this year, which will help maintain the demand for high-end property.

According to Luxhabitat Sotheby’s, the top areas in terms of transactions were Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Hills, MBR City District One, Umm Suqeim 3, Jumeirah Bay and Emirates Hills.

The Dubai prime residential market areas used for the analysis included Al Barari, Arabian Ranches, Downtown Dubai, Dubai Marina, Business Bay, Emirates Living, Jumeirah, Jumeirah Beach Residence, Mohammed bin Rashid City, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Jumeirah Islands, Jumeirah Lake Towers, Jumeira Bay and Palm Jumeirah.

“In recent months, we are seeing investors from UK, India and Germany driving demand, with many of our buyers looking for ready properties and branded addresses,” says George Azar, CEO at Luxhabitat Sotheby’s International Realty.


The data showed that Dubai Marina, and Downtown Jumeirah Islands sales almost doubled to Dh1.75 billion, Dh4.8 billion and Dh402 million.

In the prime real estate market for apartments, the top three areas in terms of sales volume were Downtown (Dh4.8 billion), Palm Jumeirah (Dh3.7 billion), and Business Bay (Dh2.2 billion) as demand for apartments outstripped that for villas, both in the overall and the prime sector.

Giant ring surrounds Burj Khalifa 550 metres above ground in stunning new design

Architecture firm Znera Space has created a radical concept that would change the Dubai skyline.

The planned project is known as Downtown Circle and is a 550-metre-tall ring, which will encircle Burj Khalifa. Designers hope it will shake up traditional ideas of gated communities and skyscraper homes. It is also intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient.

Artist illustrations show the striking scale of the structure, which is hoped will encompass all of Downtown Dubai with a circumference of three kilometres.

It will be broken down into smaller units, which will contain homes as well as public, commercial and cultural spaces.

The ambitious project has been drawn up by Najmus Chowdry and Nils Remess, co-founders of Znera Space, who often focus on experimental architecture that explores and addresses social boundaries and environmental issues.

Downtown Circle was created by the pair during the pandemic, which sparked the idea of rethinking how we live in cities, particularly in skyscrapers.

“We wanted to go down to the basics of how gated communities were established as a very horizontal built environment,” Chowdry tells The National. “But you can’t have that here because of the dense urban fabric of Dubai. The best way to explore and practise this concept was in Downtown itself.”

“The concept was of a vertical city,” adds Remess. “When Covid-19 hit hard, we thought a lot about suitability and how can we change things, and how we can create better urban planning. We looked at aspects such as garbage disposal, food production, traffic problems, pollution. We put all these things together and came up with the concept.”

Downtown Circle is made up of five levels and would sit on five points, or pillars, embedded into the ground. The massive span of the circle itself would be composed of two main rings held together by a continuous green belt named the Skypark which vertically connects the floors with each other creating a connected three-dimensional urban green eco-system.

“One of our targets was agriculture,” Remess says. “Usually cities begin with agriculture and then continue with urbanisation. Today, many big cities are faced with the problem of how they can add more agriculture. This is one of the aspects we wanted to add into this concept — a self-sufficient city.”

Acting as a lung to the structure, Skypark would also include swamps, waterfalls, tropical vegetation and various floras. The plan would also be to have areas for rainwater harvesting, solar power and a system storing carbon and filtering pollutants from the air as part of the urban ecosystem.

An idea for a tram on the outer perimeter ring is also included in the concept and drawings, which were created in collaboration with Poland-based visualisations studio Pictown. Twenty spacious pods travelling up to 100 kilometres per hour would transport passengers around the Downtown Circle while offering 360-degree views of the city.

The idea of a self-sustainable city within a city is similar to The Line megaproject in Neom, Saudi Arabia. However, Znera Space’s concept differs as it is integrated into the fabric of an existing city unlike The Line, which is planned to be built in the desert where space is abundant.

While Chowdry and Remess have considered all aspects of urban living, from the social, economical and sustainable while creating Downtown Circle, the discussion about what is possible in architecture excites them equally as much.

“Our roles as architects is to come up with these ideas,” Chowdry says. “We want people to comment on it, criticise it, to see how we can think about building topographies.”

“It also raises the discussion of what we can do better,” adds Remess. “The way we build cities, the way we plan things. There can be negativity around this type of discussion but also solutions in how we can change things for the better.”

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