Property sales volume may dip 20%, developers likely to be more cautious

Market watchers are not surprised by the government’s move on Monday to cool the housing market, and some even said that it is long overdue.

On average, analysts expect the latest measures to dampen private home sales by about 20 per cent for the rest of the year.

And developers may also hold back on new launches, and turn to preview sales instead.

The relaxation of some housing policies will make Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats more accessible to Singaporeans who belong to the ‘sandwiched class’ income group, earning between S$8,000 and S$10,000 and previously did not qualify to use CPF housing grants for them.

And observers said that could shrink the pool of buyers upgrading from public housing to a private property, causing demand for private homes to soften.

This group of buyers has been snapping up mass market private homes in the past year and fuelling price increases in the segment.

Donald Han, regional MD of Cushman & Wakefield said: “I think mass market has come up if you’re looking at the first quarter of 2008, prices have gone up by 6-7 per cent. We probably will not expect prices to come down in the next two to three quarters, but we probably expect more stabilisation in values. After all, the market needs to take a breather.

“And if we can contain the leap, in terms of price increases of HDB flats, I think it will put a lid on the price increases, in terms of the mass market as well.”

Analysts also expect developers to be less aggressive in their bids for state land.

Meanwhile, the Real Estate Developers Association of Singapore (REDAS) said the latest measures may make property less affordable upfront.

But it is confident the property market will create value for home-owners and investors in the long term.

Overall, prices are expected to moderate with the slew of cooling measures.

But experts are not ruling out further intervention from the government, citing concern over the huge amount of liquidity in the market and the low interest rates.

Colin Tan, director of Research & Consultancy at Chesterton Suntec International said: “The previous measures were largely symbolic, and it didn’t quite address the liquidity problem. Right now, you have loan to value ratio of 70 per cent, and you have a minimum cash payment of up to 10 per cent, so that will at least soak up some of the liquidity.

“If this set of measures don’t work in terms of restraining prices, we can possibly expect more measures. Going forward with what the government has mentioned – that prices have increased 11 per cent for the first half of the year – we know that a 11 per cent rise is unacceptable. So at least we now know it should be lower, much lower than 11 per cent, maybe 10 per cent for the whole year.

According Leong Waiho, senior regional economist at Barclays Capital, price levels have now exceeded the historical peak in Q2 1996.

Average private residential prices are up 38 per cent, compared with the trough in the same quarter in 2009. This also outstrips the growth in rental yields of 9.2 per cent on-year.

For the second half of the year, analysts expect private home prices to grow by up to 6 per cent.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 30 Aug 2010

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