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Here’s what US$1m buys in the world’s top cities

sa prop bantry bay

If you had US$1m to spend, you’d pick up a 17m2 matchbox in Monaco, or a 209m2 palatial home in Cape Town. In 2015 US$1m bought 255m2 (or 18% more floor space). This is according to the latest Wealth Report by Knight Frank which recorded slower growth in 2016 in the company’s Prime International Residential Index (PIRI), which tracks the value of luxury homes in 100 key locations worldwide.

“On average, values rose by 1.4% in 2016, compared with 1.8% in 2015. However, the PIRI 100 also reveals a huge gap of 49 percentage points between the top and bottom ranking, up from 45 in 2015,” according to the report. “While the PIRI 100 helps us to gauge where a location is in terms of its property market cycle, it gives a picture of the value offered by key global residential markets in relation to each other.

“We have selected 20 prime city markets and calculated, based on the typical luxury residential value for each city and the exchange rate at the end of 2016, how many square metres US$1m would buy in each. The top four, Monaco, Hong Kong, New York and London, jostle for position each year. The gap between this tier and the rest of the pack is significant, regularly exceeding 12m2 or, in monetary terms, US$10,000/m2. Since we started this exercise six years ago, Monaco has held on to the top spot – and values have remained largely static. At the end of 2016, US$1m would have bought a diminutive 17m2 in this exclusive 2m2 enclave, much the same as in 2010. New York (26m2) and London (30m2) have regularly switched positions over the years, but the strength of the US dollar and softening prices in prime central London in 2016 have enabled New York to edge ahead. These latest results also highlight the relative value of key European cities such as Paris (55m2) and Berlin (87m2), where for US$1m you can buy significantly more than in New York or London. Despite both cities recording strong price growth, there is a 51m2 differential between the two top Australian cities, Sydney (59m2) and Melbourne (110m2).

“At 162m2, the top residential market in the Middle East, Dubai, finds itself sandwiched between Melbourne and São Paulo, underlining the emirate’s relative affordability. Compared with Monaco’s 17m2, US$1m buys a palatial-sounding 209m2 in Cape Town, although this is 18% smaller than the 255m2 the same sum bought in 2015. This shrinking floor space is attributable to both currency (the rand strengthened against the US dollar in 2016) and rising prices on South Africa’s Atlantic seaboard.”

Top photo: This Bantry Bay home is on the market for R19,9m through SA Property. Wanna see more? Visit the listing on HomeHunt – the new to search for homes


David A Steynberg, managing editor and director of HomeTimes, has more than 10 years of experience as both a journalist and editor, having headed up Business Day’s HomeFront supplement, SAPOA’s range of four printed titles, digimags Asset in Africa and the South African Planning Institute’s official title, Planning Africa, as well as B2B titles, Building Africa and Water, Sewage & Effluent magazines. He began his career at Farmer’s Weekly magazine before moving on to People Magazine where he was awarded two Excellence Awards for Best Real Life feature as well as Writer of the Year runner-up. He is also a past fellow of the International Women’s Media Foundation.

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