Jan. 5, 2008 Special to ABCNEWS.com -- Home prices in many parts of the world swelled last year, with Eastern European and Scandinavian markets leading the way with double-digit growth.
The result? On foreign soil, $1 million buys less than ever.
In London, it'll get you a one-bedroom, one-bathroom flat in Primrose Gardens. You'll save on cabs, however; the building is steps from the Belsize Park tube station. In Hong Kong, $1 million buys a three-bedroom, 825-square-foot apartment in a high-rise between the residential areas of Aberdeen and Pokfulam.
Shoppers in New York don't get much more space. A 647-square-foot Turtle Bay condo, not far from the United Nations, nips the seven-figure mark, and some may say justly: The property features a 45-square-foot balcony, white oak floors and 11-and-a-half-foot ceilings.
Forbes.com looked for million-dollar properties representative of the world's offerings and found a range of apartments, townhouses, lofts and vacation homes on every continent, excluding Antarctica. In emerging markets like South Africa or Egypt, $1 million might buy a small estate. In major cities like Paris, Sydney and Dublin, you're likely limited to apartments.
Costly City Dwellings
In places such as these, convenience of commute, access to leisure pursuits and the prestige of a prime address like Kensington or the Sutton Place means that prices will grow so long as wealth does.
"The growth of wealth in recent years is a real and substantial trend," says Liam Bailey, head of residential research for London-based property adviser Knight Frank. "Over the next five years, we believe the trend of growing wealth and greater wealth concentration will continue."
And if it comes in the form of pounds sterling and euros, American real estate as a result looks incredibly cheap. One example: the luxurious residences at The Plaza in New York--many listed for upward of $10 million--are filling fast with Europeans.
But it's not just marquee properties that are going to overseas investors. Jonathan Miller, director of research at Radar Logic, a New York real estate research firm, estimates that one-third of Manhattan condo sales over the last year have gone to foreign buyers.
However, those who prefer to stay home should fare just as well. That's because, while U.K. prices have spiked almost 10% this year, according to Savills, a London-based real estate research firm, both mature and growing markets have outperformed it.
"It is not just the emerging markets such as Poland and Bulgaria that are enjoying strong growth," says Charles Weston-Baker, director of Savills' International Residential Department. "Traditional markets such as Canada, Sweden and Spain all outperformed the U.K."
Here, though, buyers of million-dollar prices still get more than they would for a comparably priced property in London. In Montreal, $1 million buys a three-bedroom, three-bathroom, Art Deco-style home with a deck overlooking rear gardens and three fireplaces.
A good investment? It's likely. Although "price growth this year will be lower," says Bailey, "we predict prime markets will outperform mainstream markets by quite a margin."