Home prices continue slide as loan curbs bite

Home prices continue slide as loan curbs bite

The housing market downturn worsened in the first quarter of the year as loan curbs bit deeper and a possible oversupply of new homes loomed larger.

Private home prices fell 1.3 per cent in the January to March period from the three months before, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) flash estimates out yesterday.

This was sharper than the 0.9 per cent drop in the fourth quarter last year and caught analysts by surprise.

Prices were also 0.8 per cent lower than they were a year earlier, notching up their first year-on-year decline since the third quarter of 2009.

In the HDB resale market, prices sank for a third straight quarter - not seen since between 2000 and 2002 when prices dropped for eight straight quarters.

They lost another 1.5 per cent in the first three months this year after sinking 1.5 per cent in the fourth quarter last year.

The weakness in the overall residential market has spurred questions of how low prices would have to drop before the Government relaxes its property market cooling measures.

"The pace of price decline has been gradual, but if transaction volume continues to be significantly impeded by all the cooling measures in place, the magnitude of price declines may eventually increase," noted JLL Singapore research head Ong Teck Hui.

Analysts said yesterday that home prices are likely to keep on falling this year, with no immediate abatement in sight.

The price drop in the first quarter was largely due to buyers tightening their belts owing to tough curbs on home loans under a total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework, analysts added.

"The subdued market in the first three months of 2014 appears to have set the tone for the rest of the year," said Colliers International research head Chia Siew Chuin. "There appears to be little respite for the private residential property market at least in the short term."

R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said "developers will definitely have to continually cut prices".

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