Experts predict steady home prices due to low interest rates

PHOTO: Experts predict steady home prices due to low interest rates

Home prices are likely to hold their ground despite being pummelled by six rounds of cooling measures, according to most property analysts. They pointed to low interest rates and a stable employment outlook as factors supporting prices.

They predicted the measures - including last week's new restrictions on loan terms - would take a toll on sales volumes. However, another factor helping to keep prices steady is the strong holding power of developers.

Some contrarian analysts said prices might fall by up to 10 per cent in the next 12 months.

But most agreed that private home prices are likely to continue flatlining instead. They have risen by less than 1 per cent in the first nine months of the year.

The measures announced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore last Friday included caps on loan terms to prevent buyers from over-extending themselves, and lower loan-to-value (LTV) ratios for certain purchases.

They were also meant to curb rising home prices driven by low interest rates and easy credit coming from a fresh round of cash stimulus in the US and Europe.

OCBC analyst Eli Lee said the measures are likely to have a muted impact on prices. He pointed to healthy sales at recently launched eCO in Bedok South last weekend, while a recent Credit Suisse report said the measures are "unlikely to have a major impact on prices in the near term".

Mr Colin Tan, research head at Chesterton Suntec International, said sentiment might be affected in the short-term as buyers take a wait-and-see attitude. While volumes might take a hit, prices are likely to remain stable, he added.

A report by Deutsche Bank analysts Gregory Lui and Elaine Khoo said aggressive moves by developers to sell housing stock is unlikely given the significant number of homes already sold this year.

"For buyers, affordability, while weaker, is still comfortable with mortgage rates low. Therefore, we do not expect a significant decline in prices with a base case of 5 to 10 per cent drop."