Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Prime home prices may rise 18% by end 2010: UBS

The analysts say mass launch prices have hit 2007 peak, and may stagnate

LAUNCH prices for new private homes rose 10 per cent and 18 per cent in prime and mass districts respectively in the first half of 2009, according to UBS Investment Research.

On the back of this, analysts Regina Lim and Michael Lim now expect prime prices to rise 18 per cent from here to 2007 peak by end 2010, as interest continues to improve and foreigners start to buy. However, luxury prices are not expected to reach the $4,000-$4,500 per square foot (psf) levels seen in 2007. By contrast, mass launch prices have reached the 2007 peak due to fervent buying by locals and prices could stagnate at current levels, the analysts said in an Aug 24 report: 'For mass market launch prices, we believe they could stagnate at current levels after rising around 20 per cent in 2009.'

UBS' research also showed that most of the demand for private homes this year came from local buyers. In the first seven months of 2009, developers sold over 10,100 units, mostly in mass market condominiums where buyers were largely Singaporeans.

'In H1 2009, we saw a sharp increase in buyers who currently live in public housing (HDB),' said the report. For new sales, 54 per cent of buyers had HDB addresses, compared with 24 per cent in 2007. For resale transactions, 44 per cent of buyers had HDB addresses, compared with 22 per cent in 2007. In addition, a large portion of non-Singaporean buyers were permanent residents.

Looking ahead, UBS believes that demand for prime residential units will grow as interest grows among foreigners. 'We saw signs of improvement for prime units in Q2 2009,' said the report. 'In Q2 2009, resale transactions in the prime districts increased more than five times to 230 a month, from 42 a month in Q1. Prime resale transactions now make up 24 per cent of all resale transactions, compared with 16 per cent in Q1 2009 and 30 per cent in Q1 2007.'

The price growth that UBS expects will be supported by low completions supply, the analysts said. UBS expects the total number of homes to be completed from 2009 to 2015 to be around 16,000 per year - similar to the levels in 2000-2008.

'We believe this is not excessive, if we expect population growth to be 2.4 per cent, which translates to around 116,000 persons per annum,' said the report. 'We believe that supply is reasonable and we expect rental growth in 2009-2015 to be at least 5 per cent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) as completions are similar to 2000-2008, yet population growth is expected to be 15-20 per cent higher.'

However, other analysts here are less bullish. RBS Singapore analyst Fera Wirawan said recently that residential property prices could fall 10 per cent to 20 per cent over the next 12 months on back of anti-speculative measures, falling rental yields and increasing supply.

Based on her analysis, prices of mass-market homes are now at peak 2007 levels, while prices of mid-tier and high-end homes are just 8 per cent and 22 per cent off their peaks respectively.

Source: Business Times, 26 Aug 2009

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