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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

S'pore home prices likely to fall further

By Joyce Teo


PROPERTY investment firm IP Global has said Singapore's residential market is not worth a look until at least six months from now.

The Hong Kong-based company, which helps property investors buy in emerging and recovering markets, expects prices in Singapore to fall further and recommends waiting until these return to pre-rally levels.

Until then, it says, the market will remain unattractive to foreign investors.

Strong demand sent property prices surging through the roof in 2007. Intense speculation then created a lot of froth, resulting in a mini-crash, said IP Global managing director Tim Murphy.

The fall in Singapore's residential property market, hence, started a year before the onset of the recession. 'I don't think anything the Government will do will revive the market now,' said Mr Murphy.

Private home prices will only flatten out by the third or fourth quarter, he said.

Property players have been hoping the Government will do something to stimulate demand, such as deferring payment of the stamp duty.

Mr Murphy's advice to investors: 'Look at yields, look at supply, look at cost of funds and spend five times longer than you normally do finding something to buy. There will be lots of deals in the next six to 12 months,' he said.

If he were to enter the Singapore market later, his interest would not be in luxury homes - where prices have fallen furthest and are expected to continue falling faster than in the other sectors - but in reasonably-priced homes in prime districts.

IP Global, which also invests in commercial properties, believes that the short-term office oversupply in Singapore is worrying. Office rents plunged by nearly 20 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, while supply continues to grow.

On the upside, Mr Murphy believes that the property market has a number of factors working in its favour, such as strong population growth and its strategic position as a commercial hub in the region.

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