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Thread: Luxury condo prices come off their peaks

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    Default Luxury condo prices come off their peaks

    http://www.businesstimes.com.sg/sub/...02930,00.html?

    Published October 27, 2008

    Luxury condo prices come off their peaks

    But most units in high-end projects still changing hands at above their launch prices

    By UMA SHANKARI


    (SINGAPORE) Prices for some luxury and high-end projects launched in 2006 and 2007 have come off their peaks by up to about 26 per cent, anecdotal evidence shows.

    Data compiled for The Business Times by property firm DTZ shows that at selected high-profile upmarket properties launched in 2006 and 2007, prices started dipping in the third quarter of 2007 and are now between some 4 to 26 per cent off their highs.

    At City Developments' The Oceanfront @ Sentosa Cove, prices have fallen some 26.4 per cent since the third quarter of 2007.

    On the other end of the scale, prices at Wheelock Properties' Scotts Square, fell 3.6 per cent between their peak in Q3 2007, and the second and third quarters of this year.

    In both cases, the caveat is that the volume of transactions was relatively low. There were only about 10 transactions for each project in the second and third quarters of 2008.

    DTZ's data supports what other property consultants are saying - that luxury apartments in prime districts are harder hit by the current downturn.

    Knight Frank's in-house numbers show for example that prices of luxury apartments in Districts 9, 10 and 11 have fallen by 12-13 per cent since the start of the year.

    And the fall is gathering pace, said Nicholas Mak, director of research and consultancy at Knight Frank.

    Savills also reported that its in-house price index, which tracks luxury and 'super-luxury' projects, fell 10 per cent from January to July this year. Other analysts estimate that prices at some condos are around 20-30 per cent lower than during last year's peak.

    The drop has been larger than expected. Knight Frank, for example, was expecting to see a 10 per cent fall in high-end residential prices for the whole of 2008.

    Official numbers show that residential prices in the upmarket core central region started to fall in the third quarter of 2008, and has to date registered a 2.7 per cent drop. These numbers, however, take into account all property transactions.

    Despite the price correction, property firms say that most units in high-end projects are still being transacted at prices higher than their launch prices. DTZ's data supports this.

    The price falls from Q3 2007 are partially due to property investors and speculators selling out, said DTZ's senior director of research Chua Chor Hoon. 'For some projects launched in late 2006 and early 2007, there was a lot of speculation as the market was very bullish,' she said.

    Luxury and high-end residential projects attract more investors and speculators than the broader residential market. With the current economic downturn, many of them are off- loading their properties.

    Knight Frank's Mr Mak said: 'Right now, what everyone is saying is that cash is king.'

    The availability of cheap and ready credit in 2006 and 2007 boosted property sales then. But now, banks have cut back on the amount of financing they are willing to offer to home buyers who are seen to be speculators and/or investors - as opposed to owner- occupiers, who are thought to be lesser credit risks.

    In the past, most buyers were able to obtain 80 per cent financing for homes. In contrast, banks now offer speculators and investors only 60-70 per cent financing.

    Ku Swee Yong, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore, believes that prices at projects that will soon receive their temporary occupation permits (TOPs) could go even lower.

    Speculators who bought homes under the deferred payment scheme (DPS) could sell as TOP approaches. Under the DPS scheme offered by most high-end properties launched in 2006 and 2007, buyers could pay only a 10 per cent or 20 per cent downpayment, with the rest due upon completion. With TOP, these speculators will have to fork out a big chunk of the remaining sum owing.

    'So there is the danger of price drops as TOP approaches,' Mr Ku said. 'But how much prices fall at each property depends on the profile of the buyers there.'

    Most agents BT spoke to said they have yet to see fire sales though the pressure could continue to build up.

    During the Asian Financial Crisis, the official Urban Redevelopment Authority price index fell 40 per cent from Q2 1997 to Q4 1998.

    'In the next six to nine months, we are going to see downward pressure (on prices) across the board,' said Knight Frank's Mr Mak. 'And how severe the chill that spreads across the property market will be depends on the real economy in Singapore, especially the employment market.'

    Phillip Securities Research analyst Alfred Low expects high-end property prices to fall by 15-25 per cent in the next four quarters.

    Others are more bearish. Morgan Stanley analysts Melissa Bon and Brian Wee on Oct 24 took a more aggressive approach to cutting residential prices and projected that residential prices for the mid-high end segment will fall by 75 per cent for the next three years.

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