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Australia housing market strong in 2010, says report

MELBOURNE: Australia experienced one of the strongest housing markets in the world during 2010, new research shows.

But likely interest rate hikes will slow the market in 2011, the Global Real Estate Trends report predicts.

The report, released by Canada's Scotiabank, tracks the housing markets in 12 advanced economies throughout 2010.

Home prices increased in Australia, Canada, France, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

They remained flat in Germany and the United States, and fell in Ireland, Italy, Japan and Spain.

Australia led the pack, thanks to relatively-low unemployment and tight housing supply.

But interest rate hikes and a cut to the first homeowners grant slowed a "red-hot" property market in 2010 to some degree, the report said.

Economist Adrienne Warren expected the Reserve Bank of Australia to lift interest rates by an additional 75 basis points in 2011.

Australia's close trade ties with Asia and resource wealth would continue to underpin a solid pace of domestic activity.

"Higher interest rates will worsen already strained affordability," Warren is reported by the Australian Associated Press as saying.

Canada's market also fared well, but was "one of the most volatile" expected to be tempered by more moderate employment and income growth in 2011.

The UK property market staged a strong early-year recovery while Germany's decade-long housing slump also came to an end.

But it was a different story in Spain, Ireland and Italy, where the market continues to fall.

Japan's two-decade long property slump continued in 2010, and is expected to slump further in 2011 on the back of a weaker economy.

The surprise result came from the US where the housing market stabilised. — Bernama
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