To see what’s happening across the Americas right now, look at the cities. Nowhere is this clearer than in the US itself, where housing market recovery – which had been slower than in much of the Commonwealth and Asia – has now been led by New York, San Francisco and LA in particular.
In these major cities, prices have come back to – and in some cases far exceeded – their pre-downturn peaks, and strong demand exists across all segments of the market. These locations have among the largest volume of international investment of any US cities, and now similar things are happening in second-tier but still global urban centres such as Nashville, Tennessee and Austin, Texas, which both attract high net worth individuals thanks to their sophisticated infrastructure and ‘big city’ cultural life.
Not all cities are moving at the same speed. Those with less connectivity or wider economic problems – Detroit, for example, which is still coming to terms with de-industrialisation – are still way off peak 2007 price and transaction levels.
Even the nervousness surrounding a new president is unlikely to deter growth significantly. In an increasingly uncertain world, real estate in New York and other major US cities still looks a lot safer than many investments in most other places. As a result, this asset class may be taking on a more traditional, solid status.
There remains interest in high-quality leisure properties, such as ranches, vineyards and ski lodges, in prestigious locations outside the biggest urban areas, but these have not seen the speed of recovery so evident in major cities.
The rest of the Americas may be slower than the US in terms of returning to full value, but many individual countries’ markets are showing encouraging signs.
For those few international investors who remain wary of the US until the new presidency beds in, Canada is perhaps seen as the safest port of call. In particular, the formerly overheated market in Vancouver – which recently introduced stricter lending rules for domestic buyers and scrapped a three-decade ‘golden visa’ incentive, and has increased stamp duty for wealthy overseas purchasers – is slowing to more sustainable levels.
Mexico City, too, has seen a series of new developments and increasing overseas interest after some years of the peso edging downwards against the dollar. Meanwhile, in Chile the confident economy of Santiago – now seeing the arrival of financial services and tech start-ups as alternative income sources to traditional mining – is enjoying an increasingly confident market.