New York real estate is nowhere near a bubble—it’s actually perfectly priced

“Fairly valued.”
“Fairly valued.”
Image: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
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It will surprise few that the property markets in London and Hong Kong look a bit bubbly. But get this—real estate in New York is “fairly valued,” according to a new report.

Economists at UBS crunched the numbers for the world’s major financial centers, building a “global real estate bubble index” from a variety of indicators, including deviations in house prices from long-term trends, local incomes, and rents. It also considers trends in construction and lending.

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In the rankings, London and Hong Kong are firmly in “bubble risk” territory. In Hong Kong, a 60 square-meter (around 650 square-foot) apartment near the city center now costs the equivalent of 21 years of salary for the average skilled worker. Meanwhile, in London—the bubbliest of them all—foreign demand for safe-haven assets has pushed up prices beyond what many locals can afford.

Lower down the list, cities like Sydney, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Amsterdam are quite overvalued, but not yet in red-alert territory. In these cities, UBS says that owners and investors shouldn’t expect much in the way of future price increases. What’s more, past experience suggests that an average drop of 30% is likely within the next three years.

And then there’s New York.

The report is quick to stress that being expensive is not the same as being bubbly. And New York is plenty expensive—it takes the average worker 11 years of income to buy a place in Manhattan. But inflation-adjusted prices are still below their 2006 peak, and affordability measures are in line with long-term averages, too, suggesting that there is little risk of a crash any time soon.

So cheer up, New Yorkers. It could be worse. You could be in London.