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Les Calvert is the owner of and many other property and travel related websites. Les writes news and articles on the overseas property market for leading websites, trade magazines and newspapers.

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Unbelievable.That is the only word fit to describe the fact that the world’s tallest, most luxurious, lavish and downright most expensive single-family home has been left lying empty for what is now more than a year since its completion. People are understandably angry at the waste. But that is not the only unbelievable thing about this mammoth building built by Indian billionaire Mukesh Ambani.

most expensive home in the world - full view of antila residence mumbai

Housing Bubble!

The global property markets are imploding, and fast. The strain that first found its footing in the U.S has now truly gone viral. From Dubai to Denmark, developers have been left reeling, while national exchequers struggle to hold ground. So, how did the housing market bring the greater world economy to its knees? What could have possibly happened that real estate the world over saw $5.4 trillion in losses over the course of one single year alone (2008-2009)? We here present a simple, 8-point lowdown on what really got that demolition ball rolling.

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David Cameron has finally decided to do something about Britain’s troubled housing market, but it’s not sitting pretty with analysts and investors alike. His radical new strategy (his words, not mine) includes: letting first-time buyers access mortgage funds after only putting up 5% in down payments; further pushes for the Right To Buy scheme targeted at social housing, and injecting a (deceivingly) sizable £400 million to resuscitate the country’s moribund construction sector. Also, in a bid to highlight how incredibly serious Mr. Cameron’s government is about resolving the current housing crisis, he even announced to insure lenders against any defaulting mortgages initiated under the said plan. No explanations, however, as to why none of this gloom was apparent last year while carrying out those brutal spending cuts, of which developmental housing bore the deepest gashes.

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UAE – Dubai

We already reported on how UAE’s thriving aviation industry is helping the region keep out of trouble, and now apparently it’s even flown in to revive those flat lining property markets. Rental specialists, Campaya, just cited Dubai as this holiday season’s go-to destination of choice, reporting a marked uptick in demand for rentals in the city. Thanks to the ongoing slump, prime realty is going for lowly prices. Other popular hotspots include, Egypt, the Caribbean, and Madeira so much for a white Christmas.

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Spain’s markets are in a fix, and there seems to be no creditable solution in sight. In fact, there is no credit. Lending activity in the country has slowed down dramatically, having experienced its greatest fall this year (a record 2.64% decline till September). The property markets gone bust, and looks to have taken all the air out of Europe’s fourth largest economy. Borrowers keep defaulting, and homes foreclosing. The only thing that’s left soaring here is the national unemployment rate (22.6% at present vs. 7.9% in summer 2009).

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Apartment China

The Chinese authorities have succeeded in making good on their promise to lower property prices, but this bid to make housing affordable for the greater half of the Chinese population mightprove particularly costly for the Chinese economy as a whole. The residential sector is a major contributor of short-term economic growth in China, and accounted for an estimated 6.1% of its total GDP in 2010. Falling prices have already dragged down investment in the country’s real-estate market, and are expected make a similar dent in its demand for steel. Given the already dismal global economic outlook, a sluggish Chinese economy could then setoff more alarms than fireworks.

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The UAE seems well perched on the formidable wings of its soaring aviation industry. Markets are swiftly jetting towards the promise land of both recovery and progress. The region is close to realising its long held ambition of piloting growth independently off its naturally occurring oil reserves (UAE is the 4th largest exporter of oil in the world), and is strategically building upon its tourism industry to provide the necessary traction.

Emirates Boeing 777 Airpot Landing

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The Canadian housing market continues to function in a consistently insensitive manner.  It’s like it fails to realize that the rest of the free world is hurting, and this persistent, and seemingly abnormal, growth is bound to cause more offense than awe. The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), only yesterday, released some more upsetting news the country’s home sales have risen once again (by 1.2% in October), and the overall industry outlook too remains sanguine (1.4% higher sales expected overall in 2011 vs. those in 2010). What is Canada doing differently? Are Canadians a particularly hopeful bunch, or is there something more sinister at play? Why is it that owners and buyers alike have not taken to renting with as much fervor as their American and British friends so apparently have?

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We always talk about the special partnership between the UK and US, and we all know that it will scarcely ever be as “special” as it was between Bush and Blair, at least not until sufficient time to have past for us all to have forgotten the lies Blair told during the time that he was being operated from behind by Bush, but that is another article. But one special relationship that we have no such choice in is the special relationship between our economies and housing markets.

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sri-lankan flag

The Sri Lankan government is scrapping the 100% tax levied on foreigners buying land, in favour of a new special land tax to be unveiled in the 2012 budget.

The new tax will remove restrictions on foreigners buying and developing land anywhere in the country, and will also close loopholes which have allowed many foreigners to buy land in Sri Lanka tax free. It is also thought that removing the tax will increase tourism and property sales to foreigners. The overall aim of the decision is to increase the revenues coming into government coffers from the sale of land to foreigners, sources from the Finance Ministry told reporters.