Prime condo prices heading for long, gentle decline

Prime condo prices heading for long, gentle decline

Cushman model shows subdued market until 2012 but firm argues it’s still a good time to buy





(SINGAPORE) The prices of condos and private apartments in the Core Central Region (CCR) will inch downwards and are unlikely to touch their recent peaks for almost the next four years, a model developed by Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) shows. The extent of the fall will depend on how slowly the Singapore economy grows, but C&W expects these median prices to drop between 8 per cent and 17 per cent from their peak of Q1 2008, before recovering by some time in 2012.


Even so, it argues that now may be a good time to look at buying into new developments, as the developers are unlikely to slash prices dramatically. Instead, a gentler decline is on the cards.


The trigger for this is ‘there’s still a lot of private housing supply’, says C&W’s head of forecasting Lee Chong Yong, who developed the model.


Mr Lee points to the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s projections that about 8,000 non-landed private homes will be completed this year, followed by another 12,000 units next year, around 16,000 in 2010, and some 20,000 in 2011, before the supply eases to around 8,000 units again in 2012.


‘Some of these units have not been launched yet. As time goes on, the unsold or yet-to-be-sold stock will keep creeping up, until 2011. The extent to which there will be downward price pressure from this will depend on the pace of economic growth. The stronger the economic growth, the faster the supply can be absorbed,’ Mr Lee says.


Assuming Singapore’s GDP grows at a rate of 4 per cent a year between 2008 and 2012, the median per square foot (psf) price for non-landed private homes in CCR – which includes the prime districts 9, 10 and 11, Downtown Core location and Sentosa Cove – will fall a total of 17 per cent between the Q1 2008 high and Q1 2012.


Based on a higher 5 per cent GDP growth rate, the price decline will be a lower 12 per cent over the same period.


If GDP grows at 6 per cent, the median price will decline 8 per cent between early 2008 and Q3 2009 before recovering back to the Q1 2008 high by end-2012.


C&W also tracked developers’ sales in 255 new condo projects across Singapore and constructed an islandwide non-landed private residential new sales price index, which showed a 2.2 per cent decline between the peak in December last year and May this year.


‘From the start of the credit crunch in August 2007 through to May 2008, developers of only 10 per cent of the 255 new condo projects tracked have cut their prices by more than a fifth,’ C&W said.


C&W argues that ‘compared to the 1997-1998 Asian crisis, today’s falling prices are at present moderate without any signs of panic from the developers’. During the Asian crisis, most developers cut prices by at least 20 per cent while some reduced asking prices by up to 40 per cent in 12 months, it said.


The property consultancy group says ‘now would be a good time to consider buying into new developments’. It also notes that expats living in Districts 9, 10 and 11 have seen a doubling of rents over the past two years, while sale prices of many condos are starting to see a slow price decline. ‘For expats expecting to stay in Singapore, it would be a good time to consider buying (a condo) to take advantage of this short-term dip in the market,’ C&W’s head of residential Connie Looi says.


But JPMorgan analyst Christopher Gee gave a different view, saying that compelling values were needed to get buyers back to the market. ‘The fear of making a purchase now, only to have prices fall later, is what’s holding buyers back at this stage. Developers too don’t want to sell too cheap; if prices recover, then they would have missed out on making bigger profits.’


One property market watcher said that tempting buyers back would require mass-market condos to be launched at $600-$650 psf on average, compared with a price of $700-$800 psf last year.


In the mid-range category, a freehold condo in the Balestier area for instance would today need to be priced at $900-plus psf, instead of the $1,000-plus psf they’re still being marketed at, based on last year’s pricing. For freehold projects in the prime districts 9,10 and 11, what would lure buyers back today would be an average price of no more than $3,000 psf, instead of $3,500-$4,000 psf last year, another industry observer said.


Giving his take, an experienced property industry player said: ‘How Singapore home prices will pan out will depend on both internal and external factors. Residential property prices have fallen in many markets across the globe, such as the US, Europe, UK, Australia, Vietnam and China. If we want to be in line with the rest of the world, we’ll also see some slide.’


Source: Business Times

One Response

  1. […] Prime condo prices heading for long, gentle decline(SINGAPORE) The prices of condos and private apartments in the Core Central Region (CCR) will inch downwards and are unlikely to touch their recent peaks for almost the next four years, a model developed by Cushman & Wakefield (C&W) … […]

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