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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – From the desk of Amalia Liapis

2012 MARKET FORECAST

As we move forward into 2012, the year of the Dragon, I thought it helpful to review some global activity that will have a measurable effect on our local real estate market.

China’s fourth quarter gross domestic product (GDP) rose 8.9% from a year earlier, beating analysts’ expectations of 8.6% growth. For the full year of 2011, China’s GDP rose by 9.2% compared to a 10.4% rise in 2010. It always amazes me how China can produce statistics so quickly but market analysts are always skeptical on how accurate the data is out of China as there is no way to reliably check the accuracy.

USA reporting season is in full swing for the December quarter and results here will direct US and world markets over the next few weeks. The US still has the world’s largest economy and, while it has slowed, guidance from the corporate world during reporting season will give a better idea of future recovery.  Again the next two weeks will be vital here, but so far so good. Economic data has been better than expected and this has been reflected in the US equities market now at five month highs. This is the year for the Presidential elections, so we can expect to see lots of big promises from both parties that should also help equity markets and real estate activity.

Europe’s financial problems will be with us all during 2012 as there appears no easy fix. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is hoping to raise $500 billion US to help with the European crisis. The US Treasury and some non-euro zone European countries, such as Britain, are reluctant to contribute and this could leave Asian and other developing countries to make up the shortfall.

Greece is trying to work out with its creditors how much they will write off. An agreement of sorts was reached last year as a part of the Greek bailout fund that bond holders would take a “hair cut” of 50%. Now, Greece wants that to be taken out to 68% and could be close to an agreement; however Greek Banks don’t want to be included. No one does, but most will agree if everyone else will. The European Central Bank (ECB) is the largest holder of Greek bonds with a total of around €50 billion ($61.5 billion US). Hedge funds are threatening to sue the Greek Government to make good on bond payments so this issue could hang over any deal made. We could then expect Portugal to be the next to stand up for Portuguese bond holders to also take a “cut,” perhaps then followed by Ireland. If Spain and Italy start looking for a deal then the world economy will be in turmoil for a long time which will have an effect on the stock markets.  During these economic times people start to move their money into other investments and so real estate is an obvious choice. Demand for investment properties will create a momentum in our local market.