January 3, 2007, 12.52 pm (Singapore time)

Home prices rise 3.7% in Q4

SINGAPORE - Singapore home prices rose 3.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, climbing for the 11th quarter in a row, the government's real estate planning agency said on Wednesday.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) said its initial estimate of the price index for private residential homes rose to 130.0 points in the October-December period last year, from 125.4 points in the previous three-month period. The fourth-quarter gain follows a 2.7 per cent increase in the July-September period. The index has risen 10 per cent for the whole of 2006.

Singapore's property sector recovery gained momentum after the government introduced measures in July 2005 to ease real estate financing rules and foreign investment. A few luxury properties in prime districts have sold at prices last seen in 1996, but resale prices for public housing flats - where 83 per cent of Singaporeans live - have remained flat.

The government's property price index is widely watched by property investors as a measure of how Singapore's top property firms such as CapitaLand, City Developments and Keppel Land are doing.

The advance estimate is compiled 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 Jan 26. -- REUTERS