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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Big increase in Singapore home prices

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Big increase in Singapore home prices


Singapore- Home prices in Singapore rose 1.5% in the first three months, the biggest increase since the first quarter of 2000, the government’s real estate planning agency said yesterday.

Analysts said luxury residential projects commanded higher prices, but mass market homes also showed modest price gains in the January-March period.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said its initial estimate of the price index for private residential homes on the island state of 4.4 million people rose to 120.0 points in the first quarter from 118.2 points in the fourth quarter of 2005.

The first-quarter gain exceeds the 1.4% rise seen in the last three months of last year.

“Investors are still looking at Singapore as having a very good investment environment,” said Wallace Chu, a Savills research analyst.

Chu added that high-end projects such as two planned casino resorts have helped to raise Singapore’s international profile.

Four consortia, including the world’s biggest gaming firms, submitted bids last week to build and operate Singapore’s planned downtown waterfront casino. A winner will be announced by mid-year.

The government’s move in July to ease foreign property ownership and financing helped to lift real estate prices 3.9% higher last year.

But property values in the city-state are still about 30% below their pre-financial crisis peaks in 1996.

Private residential prices ended a four-year slump with a 0.9% rise in 2004. However, they have failed to match the gains seen in other Asian cities, including rival financial center Hong Kong where property prices have surged 70% since the Sars outbreak in early 2003.

The government’s property price index in widely watched by property investors as a measure of how Singapore’s top property firms- such as Allgreen Properties Ltd, City Developments Ltd, CapitalLand Ltd and Keppel Land Ltd- are doing.

The advance estimate is complied from transaction prices lodged during the first 10 weeks of the quarter, supplemented by information on the number of new units booked. The URA will release the official price index on April 28 2006.