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Hope for world property investment

14th July 2009 | back to article listings BACK    print this article PRINT

For those looking at property investment around the world, the last couple of years have undoubtedly been grim, with prices falling, some markets all but collapsing, credit being hard to come by and the sound of chickens coming home to roost being deafening.

Of course, for some there have been advantages. Buyers with the cash funds to invest have often been digging less deep to secure bargains, not least in places such as the US, where foreclosed homes and distressed sales have offered many units at greatly reduced prices.

But coming as the world economy as a whole has reeled from the effects of a crisis that began in the US property market but perhaps reflected far deeper systematic failings, those looking to invest may be very pleased with any positive news emerging now, since this would signal an easing of the unremitting gloom that has been so prevalent over the past year.

In some countries signs of this have been seen. In the UK, for instance, it has been suggested that the property market could be bottoming out, while the worst of the downturn appears to be over. In Cyprus, the economy has - uniquely in the European Union - avoided recession, while in the US renewed optimism has extended far beyond the positive sentiment of the "yes we can" speeches of president Barack Obama.

The fact that Mr Obama has now been in office for several months means that assessments can start to be made about the early impact of some of the economic policies he swiftly introduced once he took up residence at the White House, not least the stimulus package.

According to the administration's treasury secretary Tim Geithner, this measure and others could make a major contribution to the recovery of the US economy, which in turn will also help the wider world.

Speaking in London this week, he stated: "I think the policies have been very effective in arresting [and] mitigating the force of the storm and we're starting to see a better basis for recovery starting to be made in the US."

Mr Geithner added: "We have a very good chance for seeing the US economy get back to the point where it's going to start growing again in the next two or three quarters."

This situation, it may be noted, could be linked to a property market recovery. Last month saw such a forecast by the chairman of the American Bankers Association's Economic Advisory Committee Bruce Kasman, who saw wider economic growth this year being followed by the same next year.

It may be that the US financial sector is starting to bounce back too, with Goldman Sachs today revealing a $3.4 billion (2.1 billion) net profit for the April to June period, something that could indicate that a system in meltdown is now recovering.

Either way, for investors in property in the US and elsewhere, it might just be that the darkest days are over. That will not mean that one day everyone will wake up and the credit crunch will seem like a bad dream - not with large public deficits and new regulation ahead - but it could provide a far greater level of hope for investors than anticipated by some a few months ago.

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