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January 2015

Most unaffordable – and affordable – housing markets revealed

Published: Tuesday 20 January 2015

Hong Kong was home to the world’s most unaffordable property market in 2014, according to the latest annual Demographia International Housing Survey.

The survey, which covers 378 metropolitan markets in nine countries (Australia, Canada, China/Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States) and compares price to income, found that Hong Kong was by far and away the most unaffordable market.

In fact, the city’s score of 17 (anything above 5.1 is considered to be ‘severely unaffordable’) was the highest recorded (least affordable) in the 11 years of the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.

Vancouver, Canada was the second most unaffordable market (10.6) followed by Sydney, Australia (9.8), San Francisco and San Jose, US (9.2). London was seventh, with a score of 8.5, while the New Zealand city of Auckland also placed inside the top ten most unaffordable cities (8.2).

In terms of overall country performance, the United States is found to have the most affordable property market with a ‘moderately unaffordable’ rating of 3.6. Canada and Ireland were rated ‘seriously unaffordable,’ with a Median Multiple of 4.3, along with Japan (4.4), the United Kingdom (4.7), while Singapore (5.0). Australia (6.4), New Zealand (8.2) and Hong Kong (17.0) were all severely unaffordable.

A total of 88 cities in the United States (out of the 242 tracked by the data) were ranked as being ‘affordable’, compared to just 25 deemed to be ‘severely unaffordable’. In Australia, 33 of the 51 markets covered were categorised as ‘severely unaffordable’ and just two were considered ‘affordable’.

Overall, there were 119 moderately unaffordable markets, 97 in the United States, 16 in Canada, three in the United Kingdom and one each in Japan, Ireland and Australia. There were also 76 seriously unaffordable markets and 85 severely unaffordable markets.

The American city of Detroit is the world’s most affordable property market, scoring just 2.1, followed by fellow US cities Rochester (2.4), Buffalo and Cleveland (both 2.6).