Global urban house price growth is slowing for the first time since the start of 2016 with a decline being seen in Chinese cities while Toronto leads the annual rankings.

Over the index from international real estate agents Knight Frank increased by 6.1% in the 12 months to June 2017, down from 6.9% in the previous quarter and the number of cities registering annual price growth above 20%fell from 12 to nine.

Chinese cities are less dominant at the top of the rankings with just three, Wuxi, Zhengzhou and Changsha, in the top 10 compared to seven in the previous index.

However, the index report points out that this is a deceleration rather than a sudden slump. Prices are still rising on a year on year basis in all 20 of the Chinese cities tracked within the index. Lower tier cities are now outpacing cities such as Shanghai and Beijing, which have seen the most stringent cooling measures.

Toronto leads the rankings this quarter with prices ending the year to June 2017 some 29% higher. But the report points out that following the introduction of a new tax on foreign buyers, Toronto may follow Vancouver’s path and see price growth moderate in the coming months.

Indeed, the Knight Frank index covers the period to June 2017 but the latest data from the Bank of Canada shows Toronto registered a decline in prices in August, the first since January 2016.

The index also shows that long term frontrunners such as Hong Kong, Reykjavik, Wellington and Budapest are holding firm but this quarter some new contenders have risen up the rankings, most notably some key Indian cities. A year ago, the 10 Indian cities tracked by the index averaged 3% annual price growth, today this figure has jumped to 12%.

Cities in Russia, CIS, Latin America and Africa are the weakest performing locations with house price growth is accelerating fastest in cities located within emerging markets. Cities in the BRIC nations averaged 7.5% annual growth to June 2017 compared with cities in the European Union, which averaged 4.7% over the same period.

The number of cities registering declining house prices year in year remains static at 27 but European cities are increasingly seen at the bottom of the table, particularly those in the southern European economies such as Greece, Cyprus and Italy.

Bottom of the 150 cities covered by the index is Aberdeen in Scotland with an annual price fall of 9.5% while Napoli comes in at 144 with a fall of 4.2%, Rome at 142 with a decline of 3.6% and Milan at 135 with a fall of 1.3%.

Among the top runners are Hong Kong in sixth with annual growth of 21.5%, Wellington in New Zealand at with growth of 18.1%, Sydney and Melbourne joint 22nd with growth of 13.8% and Dublin at 36 with a rise of 11.1%.

An analysis by world region highlights Asia’s out-performance with prices rising by 10.9% on average across the region. At the other end of the rankings, Africa stands out as the only world region to see average urban house prices decline year on year.

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