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Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Goldman sees S'pore home prices rising in 2010

Kalpana Rashiwala
Business Times Singapore

It reverses earlier forecast of 10% slide next year, upgrades CDL to 'buy'

(SINGAPORE) Goldman Sachs is now projecting a 5 per cent gain in Singapore private home prices next year, reversing its previous forecast of a 10 per cent fall in 2010. It has also upgraded City Developments, which it terms 'the Singapore residential bellwether', to a 'buy' rating from 'sell' previously.

'The recent pick-up of transaction volumes in the primary residential market is a harbinger of price stabilisation being just around the corner, in our view,' the US bank said in a report dated May 12.

It expects the residential property sector to stabilise by end-2009, ahead of the office and retail sectors, which it sees stabilising around the end of next year.

Goldman Sachs sees the average luxury residential capital value sliding some 38 per cent for the whole of 2009, on top of last year's 36 per cent drop, and the average islandwide 99-year leasehold residential capital value easing 13 per cent in 2009, similar to the 12 per cent fall last year. Much of these price declines have already taken place year to date, and Goldman Sachs sees price stability setting in by year-end.

The 5 per cent residential price increase projection for 2010 will be supported by expected healthy, above-consensus take-up activity that will gradually draw down on supply.

'Firmness witnessed in the mass end of the segment is gradually filtering up to the mid-end segments, though investors are still harbouring concerns over sustainability of demand. What may not be so apparent is the relative wealth of HDB owners,' said the report.

'We expect the pick-up in transaction volumes witnessed over the past three months to continue, driven by HDB upgrader demand in the mass end of the market as affordability has improved,' it added.

'While we acknowledge that there are still overhangs (eg deferred payment scheme defaults) weighing down on the broader sector, we think the risk/reward trade-off in the Singapore residential market is currently favourable,' the report said.

With residential cycles tending to be shorter than commercial ones, Goldman Sachs expects commercial property to underperform when recovery takes place eventually. It also continues to be relatively more cautious about the retail and office segments given the challenges that are likely to affect businesses and consumers over the near term.

'Unlike in residential, where (sales) take-up has been healthy, leasing and transaction activity in the commercial space continues to be weak,' the report noted.

'On the basis that a residential property recovery is in the works, we turn more constructive on the Singapore developers as we see the residential sector leading the property sector recovery. We think property investors (Reits) mainly exposed to commercial real estate will see trends deteriorating into 2010 and are likely to underperform when the eventual recovery does take place.'

In addition to upgrading CDL to 'buy', Goldman Sachs has upgraded Wing Tai to 'neutral' from 'sell' and reiterated its 'conviction buy' for CapitaLand for their exposure to the Singapore residential sector. For CapitaLand, it said that maiden profits from The Seafront and Orchard Residences condos expected this year should help shelter the stock from potential writedowns.

Goldman downgraded CapitaCommercial Trust to 'neutral' from 'buy' and Suntec Reit to 'sell' from 'buy'. It kept its 'sell' rating for Keppel Land, which has substantial exposure to the Singapore office market.

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