Safe havens, emerging markets the main draw

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WHILE the global economy has been volatile this year, many property markets around the world fared relatively well. Real estate remains the investment of choice for many as other forms of investment, such as equities, come with greater risks.

For the year ahead, the sector is expected to see continued growth and capital appreciation despite lingering economic uncertainties, according to real estate experts based in several major cities polled by City & Country.

Markets traditionally seen as safe havens, such as London, Hong Kong and Singapore, will continue to draw international investors. Meanwhile, emerging markets, such as Indonesia and Cambodia - which are seeing a rapid increase in middle-class households and pent-up demand - are expected to be driven by strong domestic demand.

Sluggish economic growth in India's property market impacted sentiment and investor interest this year, but 2013 may see an increase in residential launches, with developers expected to offer attractive benefits to drive sales. A new policy on foreign direct investment is anticipated to be a key driver of the sector.

The US property market, which has been plagued by the subprime mortgage crisis and recession over the past few years, is starting to show signs of life as the country's economy improves. The Manhattan condominium market, in particular, performed well in 2012, partly driven by lack of supply. This good performance is anticipated to continue into 2013 with luxury condos being a key attraction.

In Asia-Pacific, certain segments of the property markets in Australia and New Zealand showed growth this year. In Australia, opportunities are present in all asset classes, with the office sector in Perth likely to perform the strongest.

Over in New Zealand, growth will be driven by a stronger economy, continued low interest rates, attractive returns and a notable rise in interest in properties there.

This story first appeared in The Edge weekly edition of Dec 24-31, 2012.