Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Property run-up may end in 2010: UK group

But CapitaLand remains bullish and will launch two new projects soon

THE run-up in Singapore's private home prices may fizzle out next year, as several obstacles are still impeding global growth momentum.

That is the view of London-headquartered Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), which represents and regulates property professionals and surveyors.
It issued a report on Monday concluding that the sharp residential market rebound here may peter out. It cited higher unemployment in Singapore as a potential risk factor that could undermine the property rebound here.

In contrast, top local developer CapitaLand remains bullish in its outlook for Singapore, and will soon launch a 1,000-unit condo in Gillman Heights and 165 resort-style homes at the former Char Yong Gardens site. CapitaLand's upbeat outlook on the market here was reflected in slides presented by its vice-president of investment Anson Lim at a CapitaLand CEOs forum held yesterday.

The current market upswing is being driven by positive sentiment and supported by long-term fundamentals, according to the slides. CapitaLand expects the Urban Redevelopment Authority price index to recover between 5 per cent and 10 per cent for the rest of this year, from the trough in the second quarter. The index showed a fall of 4.7 per cent in the second quarter.
The Rics report was rather less optimistic. It said while an upturn in activity is already well under way in the residential market, significant risks present a challenge to the market in the medium term.

'Labour market indicators, such as unemployment, certainly point to a less benign story,' it said. Unemployment in Singapore looks set to rise sharply in the coming quarters. Based on previous relationships with the world trade index, unemployment could easily climb to 5 per cent before the year is up, it said.

Singapore's unemployment rate was 3.3 per cent in June. Labour chief Lim Swee Say said last month that the jobless rate this year was unlikely to match the peaks of past downturns. The rate peaked at 4.3 per cent in 2003.

In the short term, residential prices may be propelled higher on an improved global economy into the fourth quarter, said the Rics report.

However, the duration of previous downturns indicates further declines in prices may well occur, should global trade momentum fall short in the medium term as high debt and rising real interest rates weigh on the strength of the global growth recovery, it said.
This, it added, would temper buoyancy in the Singapore labour market and in turn would prevent a return to previous highs in the property sector.

The Rics report also noted that the run-up in office prices has been less acute, compared with residential prices'.

'Despite improved signs that economic activity in Singapore has passed its worst point in the cycle, the global economy will once again be pivotal in dictating the sustainability of that upturn, with real property prices unlikely to surpass recent highs in the coming quarters,' it said.

Source, Straits Times, 2 Sep 2009

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