Published December 18, 2008

JLL sees property interest picking up here as investors exit other markets


BUYING interest in Singapore's property market is beginning to pick up as the country benefits from investors who scale back in other markets, said Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) yesterday.

Foreign property funds and developers are looking for investment opportunities in the residential and commercial sectors here, said Chris Fossick, JLL's managing director for South-east Asia and Singapore.

Property, he said, is a long-term investment. So while most investors are not expecting to see an upside to their investments in the next 6-24 months, in the longer run, the Singapore property market is still seen as a good bet, he said.

'Our clients are telling us that they expect growth in Asia, and they want to take advantage of that growth. This is one of the few areas where they can get good returns on their investments,' said Mr Fossick.

In the light of this, buying activity, which has fallen sharply since the start of this year, is beginning to show some signs of recovery as prices fall, he said.

In particular, affordability has improved in the residential market, said JLL. Prices have come off their peaks some 5-24 per cent for luxury and mass market projects, the property firm's data shows.

'The affordability of both luxury and mass market projects are better now than they were about 6-9 months ago,' said JLL's South-east Asia research head Chua Yang Liang. 'Lower pricing will encourage fresh capital investment.'

The gap between monthly mortgage payments and monthly rentals have also narrowed compared with 1998, which also makes buying properties more attractive now than 10 years ago, Dr Chua said.

While most funds and developers are still watching the market closely and waiting for the right time to buy, some of them are already at 'entry point', said Mr Fossick. These funds and developers will buy if sellers offer the right price.

Mr Fossick, however, said that he does not expect many distressed asset sales. 'I don't see there being distress at all.'