Residential property purchases in many countries continue to become increasingly expensive despite government efforts to dampen rapid price rises, according to Fitch Ratings. However, the growth rate is likely to slow this year, the ratings agency said in its latest “Global Housing and Mortgage” report. “Home purchases in many countries continue to become increasingly expensive relative to household income and rents, driven by the combination of extremely low borrowing costs, readily available credit, steady economic growth and limited housing supply. These conditions look set to remain in place this year,” said Andrew Currie, managing director of structured finance at Fitch. Fitch Ratings expects this situation to continue in 2017 and this is reflected in the Stable or Stable/Positive outlooks on the housing and mortgage markets for 19 of the 22 countries featured in the report. However, it said the rate of price increases should slow as buying a home becomes increasingly expensive relative to household income and rents. Unsustainably rapid price rises in countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Norway are expected to moderate in 2017. For the first time, Fitch’s report covers China’s housing market, where home prices in the largest cities rose by 25 per cent in 2016 and Fitch predicts the outstanding mortgage balance in 2017 will be more than three times higher than the volume seen in 2012. Fitch expects 2017 prices to rise only 2.5 per cent in the largest cities, partly in response to tougher rules on home purchases and minimum loan deposits.