Olympic Games effect on real estate price in host cities, revisited.



Back in November, I wrote an article on the effect that the Olympics have on host cities’ real  estate price.  Here’s the link.

A recent reader saw the article and wrote to me over the weekend:

Thank-you for the article. It made for an interesting read. My area of interest is the “after Olympic” effects on house prices of host cities. Is there a pronounced “hangover” effect on house prices due to the debt level most, if not all, host cities are left to grapple with? Do most international investors simply cash-out and move on to the next host city in search of high %, short term gains in the run-up to the next games? If you have any numbers on Sydney, Athens, Barca, Atlanta (China is a bit tough to gauge given its political influences) on for example: house prices 12-24 months after the closing ceremonies, I would be very interested to see them.  Thank-you.

Being a lifelong Chicagoan, and 20 year veteran of the Real Estate industry, I can comment from experience on a whole bunch of stuff.  But I have not lived through an economic cycle driven by the boom and bust of hosting the Olympics.  So I will try to do my best for you.

Here is a consensus of opinions:

From The Daily Reckoning:

Smaller, underdeveloped cities like Athens and Barcelona have seen huge property gains triggered by the Olympics. But in developed host cities, such as Sydney and Atlanta, the effect on property prices has been virtually nil. Sydney house prices increased by 50% between 1996 and 2000 – but research has shown that this was due to general market influences, rather than the games.

A report from Jones, Lang, Lasalle entitled ‘Reaching Beyond the Gold: The Impact of the Olympic Games on Real Estate Markets’ examines the impact of staging the Olympics on recent host cities and looks ahead to 2012.  An important effect of staging the games, argues the paper, is the improvement of urban infrastructure in developing cities. This can have a major impact on property values – for instance, Athens is building a new airport to the east of the city which has sent land and property prices in the Messogia area soaring.

It seems that in major cities, the effect on real estate prices is not dramatic.  But in smaller host cities, the effect is dramatic.

The writer of the article also notes that the money spent on infrastructure improves quality of life, and adds value to the community that lives long after the departure of the Olympics.  Here in Chicago, we can anticipate HUGE improvements to our ancient CTA TRAIN system, new roads, new buses, and the establishment of an entirely new neighborhood south of McCormick Place.

From my Colleague at @properties, Brian Guzman:

The regeneration effects from hosting an Olympic games has generally had a positive impact on house prices. Barcelona was the best performing host city with prices rising by 131% versus an 83% increase in Spanish house prices in the five years leading up to the 1992 Olympics.

Hosting an Olympics is usually associated not only with an increase in sporting facilities but also an upgrade of transport and cultural/leisure facilities. Barcelona, Athens and Sydney all saw a significant upgrading of their urban infrastructure and this city rejuvenation is likely to encourage higher house prices.

Areas close to the Olympic complex usually see the largest increase in house prices as they benefit from improved facilities and better transport links. This was clearly evident in the main area of development for the Sydney Olympics, Homebush Bay, a former industrial site 20 minutes from the centre of Sydney. House prices in the adjacent suburb, Homebush, rose 70% in the five years in the run-up to the Olympics, compared to a 50% increase in Sydney house prices.

The Manchester Commonwealth Games prompted redevelopment and rejuvenation of central Manchester and provided a spur to house prices in the area. In the five years leading up to the 2002 Commonwealth Games, house prices in central Manchester rose by 102% versus a 52% rise in prices in the North West and an 83% increase in prices across the UK.

Again, real estate prices near the Olympic Host City outperform prices in other cities.  And the improvements to infrastructure add long-term value to the city.

Both articles above reference a detailed study by Phillips, Hager and North, Investment Management LTD., in Vancouver, Canada.  The detailed study can be found here.

Conclusion: Sorry, No Lasting Olympic Effect

The hosting of the Olympic Games may have some impact on residential real estate prices, but our analysis of four North American experiences suggests that the impact, if any, is likely to be experienced over a fairly long time frame during the lead up to the Games and does not persist after the Games are done and gone. The impact may depend on the size of the local property market – presumably the smaller the market, the more noticeable the impact – but, neither Calgary (population 657,000 in 1988) nor Salt Lake City (population 182,000 in 2002) experienced a material Olympic effect.

Oh yeah?  Just when you thought you were right, check out the conclusions from this study by Jones Lang LaSalle, LaSalle Investment Management.

History clearly demonstrates that the 2008 Olympic host city will enjoy significant long-term benefits,” said Melinda McKay, Senior Vice President, Jones Lang LaSalle, and co-author of the study. “While the Games generate short-term economic gains, such as more jobs and increased revenue, other indirect effects — such as changes in the host city’s urban form and governance — are farther reaching and longer lasting.

And a deeper discussion into these important factors:


    • Urbran Regeneration
    • Olympic Villages
    • Infrastructure Improvements
    • Greening of the Games
    • Tourism Promotion and the Convention Sector

And a great conclusion:

The degree to which cities are able to achieve this will depend on a number of factors. These include:

  • Competitiveness of the business environment affects the ability to attract corporate occupiers
  • Quality of the tourism attractions determines the degree of long-term tourism benefits
  • Ability to sell Olympic experience to attract other major world events extends to the re-use of facilities and the leveraging of organizational experience
  • Level of tourism infrastructure built for the Olympics — has major long-term implications
  • Presence of an ongoing promotional campaign is critical in translating the short-term interest into long-term benefits

To delve deeper into your question, here are a couple of my opinions.

None of the articles indicated a massive influx of foreign investment, or investors flocking to the host city and buying up property to cash in on an anticipated run-up of real estate prices.

Here in Chicago, it is already apparent that only the most politically connected are going to really rake in the tall cash on the Olympics.  The City of Chicago has already gone under contract to purchase the site of the old Michael Reese Hospital, is working on contracts with politically connected trucking firms to haul away the demolished buildings, and hire politically connected developers to construct the new Olympic Village.  (Article at the Chicago Reader here and Chicago Tribune’s political coverage here.)

The real money to be made on the Olympics here in Chicago will be from the big projects to improve infrastructure.  Followers of Chicago politics can already fill in the names of the connected companies that are going to be awarded contract for:

  • Trucking
  • Concrete
  • Roadbuilding
  • Construction
  • Demolition
  • CTA Improvement
  • Asphalt
  • Garbage Hauling

For the slimmer margins in the run-up of real estate prices, a 20% to 30% possible increase in property values over normal property appreciation does not seem to be a worthwhile pursuit for aggressive investors, so I cannot imagine a speculative boom in that regard.

So, Adriano, can you think of any other questions?  Please write back or post again!