Hong Kong saw the greatest number of sales of ultra-prime residences costing more than US$25m (£22.1m, £19.9m) in the year to the end of August, according to a first-ever assessment of this market by Knight Frank.
New York and London ranked in second and third place respectively, the London-based property company's research revealed.
In addition to seeing the greatest number of sales above US$25m, Hong Kong also led the rest of the world's cities favoured by the ultra-wealthy in terms of the highest prices achieved, and what Knight Frank calls "the highest total ultra-prime spend," a reference to the total amount spent, when all of the US$25m sales were added together. In Hong Kong this number was US$2.5bn, with the average ultra-prime residence there going for US$52.8m.
In total, the Knight Frank researchers found, some 153 sales above US$25m took place across what it said were the six top "ultra-prime city markets" of Hong Kong, New York, London, Singapore, Los Angeles and Sydney. Combined, these markets saw total ultra-prime residential property sales of US$6.6bn, Knight Frank said.
'Relentless growth of private wealth globally'
The growth of the ultra-prime market around the world has been fuelled, according to Knight Frank's global head of research, Liam Bailey, by "the relentless creation of private wealth".
Knight Frank, which for more than a decade has published a detailed annual look at trends in the world of high- and ultra-high-net-worth investors known as the Knight Frank Wealth Report, said its researchers had drilled down into the data to reveal what it says are some 17 "true ultra-prime destinations", which it defines as "locations where there are at least three transactions over US$25m each year, over the past three years".
"Knight Frank's Wealth Report 2018 highlights that the global ultra-wealthy population (US$50m in net assets or more) grew by 18% in the five years up to 2017, and is forecast to increase a further 40% between 2017 and 2022," the Global Ultra-Prime Market 2019 report says.
"This growth in global wealth is likely to mean that transactions at the very top-end of the market will continue to increase and spread to more locations that we haven't highlighted [thus far]."
Among the other key findings to emerge from the Knight Frank report:
• Combined transaction levels in these six cities grew by 12% in the two years since 2016. Knight Frank said growth in these markets looked "set to continue," in spite of recent reports of prices coming down in certain markets, such as New York and London.
• Hong Kong, which as noted above led the rankings in the most recent 12-month period with the highest number of ultra-prime residence sales (worth US$ 2.5bn in total, was also the most expensive ultra-prime market, with an average price per ultra-prime residence sold in the 12 months to the end of August of US$52.8m.
• The ultra-prime market in New York grew by 50% between 2015 and 2017, and in the year to the end of August, the value of the ultra-prime sales here totalled US$1.5bn.
• Had this survey been taken in 2015, London would have topped the Knight Frank Ultra-Prime Residence league table in terms of the numer of transactions over the US$25m mark; that year, US$2.9bn worth of ultra-prime London residences changed hands. Knight Frank attributed London's slide from the top of the ranking to higher stamp duty charges, alongside concerns over Brexit.
• In 2016 only two properties in the "ultra-prime" category were sold in Singapore, according to Knight Frank, but wealthy buyers in that city-state apparently regained their appetite in the most recent 12-month period, when 12 such properties were sold.
To read and download the first-ever Knight-Frank Global Ultra-Prime Market 2019 report – which features information and charts about the key ultra-prime markets studied – click here.
(Below is one such charts from the report.)