The countries of Southern Europe continue to prop up a global league table of house prices, although the rate of decline is slowing.
The Knight Frank Global House Price Index, published today, shows prices in the countries it analyses rose on average by 8.4pc last year, the highest rate of increase since the study's inception in 1995.
Dubai recorded the largest annual rise, up nearly 35pc but the market remains 25pc below its 2008 peak. Ukraine was the weakest market with a 26pc fall.
In Europe, Croatia, the newest member of the EU, was the biggest faller, down 14.4pc with its economy suffering a prolonged recession due in part to a failure to restructure the economy and control a bloated public payroll.
Among the countries popular with British expat buyers, markets remained weak. Prices fell 9.3pc in Greece, 4pc in Spain and 0.5pc in Portugal. Figures for Cyprus and Italy were for the year to October and showed declines of 7.3pc and 5.3pc, respectively.
But Kate Everett-Allen of Knight Frank said noted improvements. "Europe continues to dominate the lower half of the table but the rate of decline is slowing in countries such as France, Spain and the Netherlands," she said.
Prices in France fell 1.4pc in 2013 but inched higher, up 0.1pc, in the second half of the year.
Overall, house prices rose in 39 countries compared with 27 in 2012.
Ms Everett-Allen added: "There is evidence that the fortunes of even the most embattled housing markets can change, and change swiftly. Prices in Ireland, the US, and the UK rebounded in 2013."
The reported registered a 7pc increase for the UK, 11.3pc for the US and 6.4pc for Ireland.
It also noted that several emerging markets, "despite their economic wobbles", still recorded a strong performance, with Turkey, Brazil, Indonesia and Colombia in the top ten.
Asset prices have been chased higher around the globe in part due to stimulus measures deployed by central banks, with particularly large quantitative easing programmes in the US and the UK.
The European Central Bank has so far opted against an overt QE programme despite continuing economic programmes, including an unemployment rate of more than 25pc in Spain.
Knight Frank said the progress of the market in 2014 will depend on how quickly stimulus is withdrawn, the "ramping up, or down, of cooling measures in Asia" and the impact of the political crisis in Ukraine.
Can UK buyers cash in?
Analysis by the OECD noted last year that property markets in Spain and France remained overvalued despite large falls in prices.
For UK buyers looking to buy abroad, mortgages on overseas homes remain hard to secure. As the Telegraph reported last week, most UK banks no longer lend. That leaves buyers the choice of releasing equity from their UK homes, or raising other money here; or borrowing from a bank local to their property.
Spanish and Portugese banks typically require 30pc to 40pc downpayments and then charge 5pc-6pc, according to Simon Conn, a broker specialising in overseas property loans, while French bank loans are cheaper at 3pc-4pc. Fixed-rate deals are rare on the Continent, as are interest-only arrangements. Eurozone lenders are asking more questions about borrowers’ financial circumstances, said Mr Conn.
1 Based on Beijing & Shanghai 2