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S’pore home price gains set to slow

Buyers holding back purchases on US sub-prime fears, says Frasers CEO

(SINGAPORE) Singapore’s home prices will probably increase at a slower pace as buyers hold back their purchases amid the US subprime crisis, said Lim Ee Seng, chief executive officer of Frasers Centrepoint Group.

Losses related to US housing mortgages have sapped consumer confidence, Mr Lim said. Some buyers returned apartment units bought at the Singapore-based company’s new project, Soleil@Sinaran near the city’s downtown, forfeiting initial deposits, he said in an interview late on Tuesday.

The outlook among homebuyers may also slow land purchases by developers including Frasers, one of the biggest buyers of older apartments in the city-state’s downtown, where they’re torn down for new home developments through so-called en bloc sales.

The developer is a unit of Fraser & Neave Ltd, the city’s biggest beverage maker.

‘The sub-prime crisis has shaken investors’ confidence,’ he said. ‘We are still looking to boost our land bank, but we are opportunistic and won’t pay current values because our costs would be too high,’ he added, referring to the purchase of existing apartment buildings to increase its land holdings.

Singapore’s home prices have climbed 14 consecutive quarters since 2004, soaring to a 10-year high this year as the island- state’s economy posted its longest economic expansion since 1991. The developer’s outlook for property sales also indicates its appetite may ease for new land purchases.

The price gain has helped the developer on earlier purchases of existing apartments, which are sold at a profit.

An example is the St Thomas Suites development in the city’s downtown, where apartments were recently sold at $2,189 a square foot.

For a 2,605-square-foot apartment, the latest sale recorded by the government, the price was $5.7 million.

‘We bought the site of St. Thomas Suites at $600 per square foot,’ Lim said. ‘But nearby properties put up for en bloc sales are asking over $1,800, and a developer has to sell at at least $2,500 to cover costs.’

‘The sub-prime crisis has shaken investors’ confidence. We are still looking to boost our land bank, but we are opportunistic and won’t pay current values because our costs would be too high.’ – Mr Lim

 

Source: Business Times 15 Nov 07

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