Wealthy homebuyers are finding global cities less welcoming -- even hostile -- to their cash.

Luxury property prices in 45 global cities rose an average of just 1.1% in the third quarter from a year earlier, the weakest annual gain since the end of 2009, according to a report from Knight Frank. They fell 4.4% in New York, 3.9% in London and 10% in Vancouver.

No wonder. There’s uncertainty at every corner, from trade wars to Brexit, Hong Kong pro-democracy protests and a populist backlash in some of the world’s biggest and most affluent cities that are imposing new taxes on the rich.

“The safe havens are becoming less certain,” said Dan Conn, chief executive officer of Christie’s International Real Estate. “It’s becoming much more challenging in the hubs to find a high quality place to deploy capital.”

Global cities like London, Hong Kong and New York, which seemed to defy housing-market cycles year after year following the 2008 financial crisis, are losing their status as safe places for wealthy international buyers to park their cash -- or themselves. The reversal has come in part as governments erected barriers to slow runaway price growth driven -- at least in part -- by all the billionaire investors who came before.

The winners were cities such as Moscow, as rich Russians chose to buy at home, and Taipei, favored over Hong Kong, the world’s most expensive housing market.

Even as the flow of investment has slowed, many developers are delivering projects started when the supply of rich buyers seemed to go on forever. Now there’s a glut of luxury properties and -- as anger mounts over wealth inequality -- affordable units are in increasingly short supply.

“We’ve had an unprecedented run in high-end real estate and now many of these markets are struggling with excess supply or uncertainty,” said Jonathan Miller, president of appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. “‘Uncertainty’ is the most overused word in real estate right now and probably for good reason.”

Taxes on Rich

London and New York, among other cities, passed taxes aimed at rich buyers. While the levies effectively raised prices even further, they also provided governments with extra cash for city services, as foreign buyers don’t pay income taxes. On the other hand, rich buyers also spend money on goods and services that boost local economies and sales tax revenue.

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