With the new Formula One season now well underway, we delve into the fast lane to take you on a whirlwind tour around this season’s race circuits across the globe, offering a brief insight into the current state of the property market in each destination along the way.
The first race of this F1 season is traditionally held at Albert Park in Melbourne, after moving from the Adelaide Street Circuit in 1995, which had played host to the annual event for a decade from 1985.
Much like Lewis Hamilton’s recent form, property prices in Melbourne show no signs of abating, with the average price of a home in the city in the three months to June surging by 3.5%, according to CoreLogic’s latest house price index.
Homebuyer demand has been supported by a good level of affordability, but with some uncertainty around oversupply conditions permeating into the Melbourne market, there is a possibility that local property prices could very well drop a gear in the near future.
Race winners at this event, held in Sakhir, Manama, are banned from spraying champagne on the podium. Drivers instead are provided with a local non-alcoholic cocktail called warrd - a blend of pomegranate, bitter orange and rosewater.
But the Bahraini locals may need a stiffer drink than Warrd to come to terms with the country’s high level of debt, after it recently emerged that Bahrain has borrowed $8.6bn on international capital markets so far this year, beating the previous high set in 2009, when the Gulf’s construction projects and property boom came unstuck after Dubai shocked investors by asking for a debt standstill.
But despite negative impacts of the sustained fall in oil prices, the real estate sector in Bahrain has proven resilient, with solid returns still considered achievable, affording hard-pressed investors the opportunity for potential growth in an otherwise unpredictable market.
Drivers are generally in for a bumpy ride at the Shanghai International Circuit in China, but no way near as turbulent a journey as China’s economy has had to endure over the past 12 months or so.
China has been suffering from an economic recession since the second half of last year, and yet property has been one of the few bright spots of the slowdown.
Shanghai’s property market has proved particularly strong, with buying sentiment growing in recent weeks, fuelled by abundant supply.
The market registered quite active performance last month with new build housing projects costing around 30,000 yuan (£3,460) per sqm being the most popular among buyers, according to research by Centaline.
Overall, China’s property prices and real estate investment are poised for slower growth even as home sales may rise to a record this year, according to a top government think tank.
Real estate is due for a short-term adjustment period after picking-up pace since 2015, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said in a report last month.
Price increases and investment will slow in the second half of 2016 and the first half of 2017, with the divide between big cities and smaller ones continuing to widen.
After their spat at the race in China, Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat once again earned the ire of Sebastian Vettel, by initially running into the back of him at turn two of the Russian GP at Sochi Autodrom - a street circuit built around Olympic Park in Sochi.
Then to add insult injury, the Russian gave him another tap at the back that caused Vettel to spin into the wall at three, ending his race on the first lap.
The crash resembles the state of the Sochi housing market which has suffered from a chronic oversupply of properties, developed as part of the $50bn makeover of Sochi in the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympics.
According to Ilya Volodko, a director of Macon Realty, developers built five times as much space as the market can absorb, which explains why sales are stagnant.
Much like the fast pace of the the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmelo, northern Barcelona, the speed of property price declines across Spain in recent years has been rapid, following the 2008 financial crisis.
Property values in much of Spain have plummeted. Sales levels have fallen on the back of weaker demand, a string property scandals, corruption, iffy legislation, not to mention a chronic oversupply of homes.
However, with plenty of property bargains available, Spain’s housing market is slowly starting to recover, amid continuous improvement in economic conditions, with property demand picking up across many parts of the country.
The latest figures from Spanish property valuation firm Tinsa reveal that the average price of a home in Spain rose by 0.8% year-on-year during the second quarter of 2016, thanks in part to a rise in the number of foreign buyers acquiring property in Spain.
But despite improving market conditions, Spanish property prices remain significantly below pre-crash levels, with the average price of a home in the country now 40.9% below the previous market high in 2007.
The race at Monaco, the signature event of the F1 racing season, oozes the wealth and grandeur of the tiny principality, which has the highest millionaire density in the world, helping to make it the most expensive place to buy luxury property.
There is nothing you can buy in the Monegasque property market for less than £1m, and in realty you will probably need ten times that budget to buy a half decent apartment in the sovereign city- state, which has a reputation as a playground for the rich and famous.
Monaco’s housing market has not really been affected by recent events in Europe, including Brexit.
Lewis Hamilton powered his Mercedes AMG to the checkered flag in June, holding off Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari over the final 32 laps to claim the race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal for a second year in a row and the fifth time overall. The win leaves him only two short of Michael Schumacher’s victories record at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.
Canada's housing market also continues to set new records, with the average sale price up to an all-time high of $508,097 (£301,200), the latest data shows.
The Canadian Real Estate Association says that the average price of a home in Canada has increased by more than 13% over the past 12 months, led by gains in Fraser Valley, Vancouver and Victoria.
The average residential property price gain in Montreal, home to the Canadian grand prix which takes place on Île Notre-Dame, has been far more modest, at 2.6% year-on-year.
The European grand prix, which was previously held in Valencia, Spain, was removed from the F1 calendar in 2013, but the race returned this year, being run on a street circuit in Baku, Azerbaijan, where the housing market has stalled over the past year.
Prices in the country’s primary housing market have fared better than the secondary housing, with values having fallen by between 1-2% so far this year, on the back of weaker market activity which has decreased by around 8% year-on-year.
Nico Rosberg saw his championship lead cut to just 11 points after he collided on the last lap with Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton who passed him to win a thrilling Austrian Grand Prix. Luckily, no similarly chaotic scenes have been witnessed in the country’s property market.
Demand for property in Austria is racing ahead, with the total number of residential property sales over the past year up almost 17% compared with the previous year, according to the Austrian National Bank.
Home prices have increased across Austria, led by Vienna, where values have risen by more than 50% since 2010. Outside Vienna, prices have risen by about 30% during that period, driven by a limited supply of homes.
It has become difficult to gauge the underlying pace of buyer demand in recent months, due to the sharp increase in house purchase activity in March ahead of the introduction of stamp duty on second homes on 1 April. But housing activity levels and prices do now look set to drop a few gears following the UK’s vote to leave the EU, but should steer clear of a market crash.
While the vote to leave the European Union has come as a shock to many, the fundamentals of the UK housing market has not changed much.
People still need homes to live in, whether we are in the EU or not, and the fact is that demand for housing continues to heavily outstrip supply.
Much like many of the drivers that have tackled the Hungarian circuit in Budapest in the past, Hungary’s public debt had spiralled out of control.
The country’s housing market has been weak for years, not helped by a slow economy, but the market has stabilised over the past 12-18 months, with prices edging higher across parts of the country.
Budapest, where house prices and transactions have risen slightly more than the national average, is almost a single city investment consideration for UK investors at this time.
Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel’s native Germany could see its property market strengthen in the coming months despite Britain’s decision to exit the EU.
Residential demand is on the up, not just because the population is growing rapidly due to the recent relaxation of the country’s immigration policies, but because the German economy remains strong. Yet, growing demand is not being met by the low supply of new homes coming onto the market.
What’s more, while the Germans are keen buyers of holiday homes abroad, domestically, the general mentality is to rent, presenting investors with potentially good buy-to-let opportunities.
In 1998, an incredible 13 cars were involved in a first-lap pile-up as the Belgian race began in torrential rain, leaving Britain’s Damon Hill to win the race. Fortunately, there are no such concerns for Belgium’s property market.
Activity in the Belgium housing sector has picked up pace, with the volume of transactions increasing by 14% on the year in the second quarter of 2016, setting a new record. The success of real estate investments can be explained by the low interest rates on savings accounts and uncertain economic times.
The property markets in Flanders and Brussels remain particularly strong.
Nicknamed the Pista Magica in Italy, Monza is the quickest circuit in F1 with cars reaching a top speed of 230mph. But unfortunately the country’s housing market has failed to keep pace with most cars on the grid.
Much like the Williams’ F1 vehicles, the Italian property market has been slow for the past few years, and could soon find itself going into reverse. The Italian financial system, to put it mildly, is in a major state of flux right now.
When you look at the country’s economic data, bank issues, and the impending constitutional referendum coming up, Italy is like an overheated engine waiting to explode.
The Marina Bay circuit takes in the iconic Raffles Hotel where the gin-based cocktail the Singapore Sling originated. Those working in the Singaporean housing industry have probably drunk their fair share of concoctions in recent months, as they come to terms with the current plight of the city-state’s housing market.
With a severe oversupply of luxury new-build homes lying empty and unsold, Singaporean prices have continued their downward trend this year, with Knight Frank’s latest Index ranking the market among the weakest in the world, along with Ukraine and Greece.
Some people claim that the Sepang venue in the capital of Kuala Lumpur, which was built on a 260-hectare swamp, may be literally sinking. The same cannot be said for the county’s property market.
The Malaysian housing market is likely to accelerate again in the second half of the year, following increasing signs that the property market may have now bottomed after a major slowdown.
Savills report that there has been a lot of pent-up demand from buyers across the market in recent weeks.
The Malaysian government’s decision to abandon rent controls and ease foreign ownerships laws almost 10 years ago, has made the property market far more attractive to international buyers.
Suzuka is the only F1 race circuit that follows a figure-of-eight format, where the circuit passes over itself - it is also situated in a theme park.
With an oversupply of unsold homes across parts of Japan, particularly in the capital of Tokyo, the country’s housing sector, much like its weak economy, has endured a rollercoaster ride in recent years. But sterling’s weak exchange rate against the Japanese yen also makes property in Japan extremely expensive for potential British buyers.
People who attended the United States GP in Texas last year were soaked by bouts of heavy rain which brought wet conditions to the track at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.
The US real estate market has also seen severe floods – floods of foreign buyers piling into the market to acquire a cheap home that is.
The appetite for US real estate continues to accelerate, but international purchasers are shifting their sights from luxury to less-pricey properties, owed in part to overall higher home prices, along with a stronger US dollar, which both cost foreign buyers more at the negotiating table.
Official figures from the National Association of Realtors show that foreign buyers purchased $102.6bn (£79.2bn) of residential property in the U.S. between April 2015 and March 2016.
Mexico’s property market has been buoyed by strong demand in resort communities, with American and Canadian buyers returning to the country, after a several-year slump, thanks to low oil prices and the strong US dollar, driving home values up.
American buyers are very important as owners of beachfront properties, which were badly affected by the slump of 2009-10, especially in areas like Baja California Sur, Nayarit, Baja California, Guerrero and Sinaloa.
Mexico also has a strong domestic market, with the greatest level of activity unsurprisingly taking place in Mexico City.
The penultimate race of the season is held at the Autodromo Carlos Pace in Sao Paulo, where the housing market has slowed considerably in recent months amid political uncertainty, rising inflation and increased unemployment.
The drop in activity, the rapid deterioration of the labour market and the deterioration in financing conditions have fuelled concerns about the health and sustainability of the property market in and around Sao Paolo where property prices have fallen this year, albeit marginally.
With ambitious plans of making the emirate’s property market the best in the region, the Abu Dhabi government introduced new property regulations and effectively enforced it at the beginning of 2016.
The new law not only aims to make investing in off-plan properties much easier for all buyers, it also looks to empower investors by allowing them to terminate their off-plan purchases in certain cases.
The Arabian capital, which controls 90% of the oil wealth in the region, is the richest and largest of all the seven UAE states, and appears to offer plenty of room for growth – far outstripping neighbouring Dubai.
Marc Da Silva is editor of Landlord Today and Property Investor Today. You can keep up with his Twitter account here.