It is often said that the three favourite past times in Hong Kong are eating, shopping and buying property. Hong Kong boasts the highest ratio of foreign property ownership in the world with nearly half of all investors owning some property outside of Hong Kong. As the year of the snake approaches, we take a look back at a few of the hot Hong Kong investor markets and what to expect in the New Year. United Kingdom Despite a near recessionary economy, property values throughout the UK declined only 1 per cent in 2012 after a 1 per cent increase in 2011, according to Nationwide Building Society. The average UK home price is currently £162,262 (HK$1.26 million). London however posted a 7 per cent increase in 2012, following nearly 50 per cent growth since the bottom in 2009. The robust upper-end of the London market appears untouched by the economic woes and has been fuelled by international purchases driving up values to new record highs. The average home price in greater London stands at £365,000 (HK$2.83 million), while the average price in the fashionable Kensington & Chelsea area is £1.1 million. The most expensive street in London is currently Egerton Crescent in Chelsea with an average price of £8 million. New stamp duties up to 7 per cent for high-end sales begins this year, but is not expected to have a large impact on the London market, which is expected to remain very strong. Economists are expecting a very flat market for the UK in 2013 with the exception of London, which will continue to see increased prices driven by foreign purchasers. United States The US housing market continues to improve following a 30 per cent correction bottoming out in late 2009. The latest Standard Poors Case Shiller 10 and 20 city home price composites show gains of 3.4 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively. In first tier cities like New York, the value gains were closer to 10 per cent last year fuelled by dwindling supply and increasing demand. The latest report from Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate shows a median price increase of 8.6 per cent for Manhattan condominiums with the current value at US$1,150,000. Emblematic of cities across the US, inventory in the Big Apple is down 40 per cent whilst the number of sales was up 27 per cent in the third quarter in comparison to 2009. Mortgage rates hit an all-time low with the 30 year fixed rate loan at 3.31 per cent. With rates expected to remain low and economic growth at 2 per cent, economist are forecasting 4 to 5 per cent annual price growth throughout the country with first tier cities expecting double digit gains. Australia The Australian housing market began the current slowdown in 2010 after nearly 23 years of consecutive price gains. After declining 3.8 per cent in 2011, homes values dropped another half a per cent in 2012. Melbourne posted the largest decline of values last year at 2.9 per cent. Sydney suffered the least and currently has the highest median home price in the country standing at A$580,246. The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to continue to cut the interest rates into 2013 in an effort to stimulate overall economic growth and the housing industry. Most experts are projecting modest price gains in 2013 with the first tier cities of Sydney, Melborne and Perth leading the growth with rates of 2 to 3 per cent. Singapore The Singaporean property market appears to be responding to government measures to dampen the runaway price growth of the past three years. Although prices continue to rise, the rate has slowed to an annual growth of 2.8 per cent in 2012 as compared to 5.9 per cent in 2011, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority. Further measures to slow the impact of growth include a new 10 per cent stamp duty for purchases by foreigners and corporate entities. A new stamp duty has also been implemented for permanent residences that are buying a second or third property. In another effort to stabilise prices, the government plans to sell additional development land parcels this year to further ease the supply and demand imbalance. Although the Singaporean economy struggled last year narrowly avoiding recession in the third quarter, economist project 2 to 3 per cent growth this year. Housing experts expect continued property price growth for Singapore properties in 2013 ranging from 2%-4%.