Foreign developers remain upbeat about Singapore's property sector

By Ng Baoying, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 24 June 2008 1748 hrs

SINGAPORE: Foreign developers are upbeat about Singapore's property market, and despite signs of a slowdown, they see opportunities for growth.

Although the government may be releasing fewer sites for sale under the Confirmed List, one of the largest property developers in Hong Kong is viewing the latest government land sales list with great interest.

Cheung Kong Holdings is interested in the white site at Jurong East Street 13, placed for sale on the government's land sales programme for the second half of the year.

Justin Chiu, executive director of Cheung Kong, said: "It's a good location because the environment is good. Jurong could make itself to be one of the major business centres of Singapore.

"I've already asked my team in Singapore to study the location and to come up with some recommendations. Definitely we're looking to expanding into Jurong area."

He added that the general cooling in the local property market is a necessary price correction given the increases over the past three years.

Mr Chiu said: "If you look at (the) property market as whole in (the) past two, three years, I'd say prices went up too fast. So we expect some correction anyway in two years' time.

"So I'd say this slight correction is actually a consolidation of (the) market, which will build a much stronger, solid base for future growth."

Lippo Group also said it will continue to invest in Singapore, on top of its current focus on emerging markets.

"We like emerging markets. (We) put-two thirds of our money in emerging markets, one-third in developed markets like Singapore and Hong Kong," Lippo Group's President Stephen Riady revealed during a panel discussion at the 7th Annual Real Estate Investment World Asia 2008 conference.

At the conference, regional property bigwigs discussed the state of Asian realty, but not all were for Asian properties.

Yu Lai Boon, group chief investment officer of Dubai World, said: "Our point of view is that when you have corrections, that's where a new golden era arises. Instead of emerging markets in Asia, my point of view is the US."

Despite the current housing slump in the US, he said investors in the Middle East are looking seriously into the American and European market now, for the next golden era. - CNA/ac