Friday, January 2, 2009

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URA Quarter 4 2008 Real Estate Statistics Flash: Private Property Price Fell 5.5%

URA Quarter 4 2008 Real Estate Statistics Flash shows that private property price index slipped 5.7% in fourth quarter 2008 over the preceding quarter, following a 2.4% quarter-on-quarter fall in Q3.

Prices of non-landed private residential properties decreased by 6.3% in Core Central Region, 5.5% in Rest of Central Region and 4.7% in Outside Central Region in the quarter. In comparison, for 3rd Quarter 2008, prices of non-landed private residential properties decreased by 2.7% in Core Central Region, 2.4% in Rest of Central Region and 1.5% in Outside Central Region.

Homes in prime areas registered the biggest price fall, with apartments in the core central region declining 6.3 per cent compared with a drop of 4.7 per cent in outlying areas.

Many analysts expect Singapore property prices to keep falling in 2009. RBS predicts a price drop of 30 per cent in prime areas and a decline of 10 per cent in outlying areas.

May also want to read:
99 Leasehold Property: Calculation of Depreciation Rate based on Singapore Land Authority Data
Spore Property History 1960-2008
Property Investment Tip: Don't put all your eggs in one basket
HDB Resale Price Index 1990-2008: Graph & Chart

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dear Smart Buyer:

Can you share... how do we know the quality of a project and its workmanship, if it is currently building in progress.

1. Is the developer name an indication?
2. Is the launch price an indication?
3. What other factors can we see, if we do not have access to the showflat...?

Anonymous said...

Dear Smart Buyer

Many thanks for your informative blog, which is very helpful for all. I hv a 5 room HDB flat at Holland Village, rented out for SGD3200, subject to renewal and tenant asking for SGD2200, which I thought was too low, and am thinking of around SGD2900, fully furnished. I dont know whether this is appropriate forum to ask-just wanted rough indication? Am overseas and uncertain of the market, given recession in SG. Thanks.

Smart Buyer said...

Dear Anonymoust 1,
1. I'd think the developer's track record is the most important indicator. Certain developers have such bad reputation, friends of mine swear they would not buy their projects (but I cannot name them here because of the legal liability). I suggest you talk to trusted friends who have bought condos. You should also get your conveyancing lawyer to explain the liability of the developers and the warranty they provide. If you can, take a look at existing projects done by the same developer that you're considering.

2. High price is definitely no guarantee of high quality, as we've read recently about a high-end property tussle between buyers and developers.

3. Take time to read the specifications. It can tell you about what quality to expect but defects and shoddy workmanship is another problem. Showroom is not a good guarantee either. In fact, with all the interior design decors, it may even distort buyers' perception. My own experience says that the actual unit you eventually get is so bear, it'll strip off all the initial emotional appeal you have when viewing the showroom.

The rest is luck.

Smart Buyer said...

Dear Anonymous 2,
I think you've been really lucky to enjoy those good rentals. The reality is the rental market is set to soften, and I think very quickly this year. I've seen condos in my neighbourhood go vacant for months (from the "For Rent" banners). It's better to accept a lower rent than leaving the property vacant in the hope of getting a higher rent. Besides rent, you should also consider the quality of your tenant such as job security. You don't want a tenant who agree to a high rent but when it comes to paying, he's just doesn't pay. Evicting a tenant involves a lot of legal tussle and money which may erode your rental yield.

Good luck.

Happy new year to all!

Anonymous said...

Dismal home sales stats notseen since ’98

THE comparison rings with foreboding — the last time private home prices took a bigger dive than this, it was exactly a decade ago, in the midst of the Asian financial crisis.
.
In the last three months of 2008, the private resident property price index dropped 5.7 per cent, more than double the rate of decrease a quarter ago, according to flash estimates. The final tally due for unveiling in four weeks’ time — which would include dismal sales data from the last two weeks of December — could be even moredepressing.
.
And in the year ahead, with :the worst yet to come for the economy, analysts are warning that prices could decline by 10 per cent at best, and more than 25 per cent at worst.
.
For some private home-owners, this brings back dark echoes of 1998, when prices tumbled by one-third.
.
The biggest plunge of 13.2 per cent came in the third quarter, followed by a 8.7 per cent slide before prices finally rebounded.
.
Already, the last three months’ drop in private residential property prices is more than what some analysts had expected, which was a 3- to 4-per-cent dip. But does this herald a repeat — or worse — of the market’s performance in 1998?
.
Property experts Today spoke to would not commit to saying so, but it was clear the usually upbeat lot was taking a subdued view of the future.
.
“This (current drop) could mean that there’s some sort of breakthrough,” said Chesterton Suntec International research director Colin Tan.
.
“There has been a stalemate all this time in the market, but we can tell for certain that the prices are coming down now.”
.
.
Investors vs buyers:Who will outwait the other?
.
Overall, prices of private homes dipped a modest4.3 per cent year on year. How far prices will come down this year would depend on property investors rather than developers, said analysts.
.
Unlike 10 years ago, when developers were giving discounts on their surplus properties, this time it is individuals who bought during the “unusual” property boom in recent times who are now setting the prices.
.
In the current climate, it’s often about how long they can hold on to their properties before selling it at a loss, or whether they can hold out for the next upswing. Indeed, the last quarter’s decline in prices could be due to the “overly-invested” looking to raise quick cash or make a quick exit, said ERA Asia Pacific’s associate director Eugene Lim.
.
For now, those investors with enough fortitude are holding out for as long as they can.
.
“Sellers are not willing to let go at fire sale prices. And a lot of agents are optimistic that things will pick up; the overall feeling is better than in the last financial crisis,” said property agent Angeline Chong, 35.
.
But, by and large, buyers have the definite upper hand. Most, especially in the high-end segment, says Mr Lim, are waiting in anticipation of price decreases, and astute ones are shopping around for value buys.
.
Agent Peter Yu, 40, who has seen the ups and downs of the market since 1988, said: “1997 was a crazy time, and so was last year, but people are still buying ... It’s all about price, it’s a buyer’s market.”
.
.
Developers have muscle to hold on
.
Meanwhile, developers are likely to hold off new property launches for now, and focus on clearing unsold units in currently marketed projects.
.
According to CB Richard Ellis, six major mass-market projects launched this year had sold just20 to 46 per cent of units as of end-2008.
.
This year and the next will also see more than 7,000 units bought under the Deferred Payment Scheme completed. With the financial crunch and banks tightening credit lines, it is a question of how many may be returned to developers should buyers fail to find the needed financing.
.
Still, price cuts by developers are unlikely as “many of them have done well over the last two years” and have the financial muscle to wait out the downturn, said ERA’s Mr Lim.
.
The one segment that has seen the greatest dive in prices last year: Luxury homes.
.
According to CBRE, new projects under construction in districts 9 and 10 saw a 30- to 35-per-cent fall in prices; those in the much touted Sentosa Cove and Marina Bay experienced a 10- to 13-per-cent dip.
.
But overall, adds CBRE: “The fall in prices may encourage sales and push take-up volume to 5,000 to 6,000 units for the entire year.”

Tan Hui Leng


huileng@mediacorp.com.sg


Additional reporting by Zul Othman


THE comparison rings with foreboding — the last time private home prices took a bigger dive than this, it was exactly a decade ago, in the midst of the Asian financial crisis.
.
In the last three months of 2008, the private resident property price index dropped 5.7 per cent, more than double the rate of decrease a quarter ago, according to flash estimates. The final tally due for unveiling in four weeks’ time — which would include dismal sales data from the last two weeks of December — could be even moredepressing.
.
And in the year ahead, with :the worst yet to come for the economy, analysts are warning that prices could decline by 10 per cent at best, and more than 25 per cent at worst.
.
For some private home-owners, this brings back dark echoes of 1998, when prices tumbled by one-third.
.
The biggest plunge of 13.2 per cent came in the third quarter, followed by a 8.7 per cent slide before prices finally rebounded.
.
Already, the last three months’ drop in private residential property prices is more than what some analysts had expected, which was a 3- to 4-per-cent dip. But does this herald a repeat — or worse — of the market’s performance in 1998?
.
Property experts Today spoke to would not commit to saying so, but it was clear the usually upbeat lot was taking a subdued view of the future.
.
“This (current drop) could mean that there’s some sort of breakthrough,” said Chesterton Suntec International research director Colin Tan.
.
“There has been a stalemate all this time in the market, but we can tell for certain that the prices are coming down now.”
.
.
Investors vs buyers:Who will outwait the other?
.
Overall, prices of private homes dipped a modest4.3 per cent year on year. How far prices will come down this year would depend on property investors rather than developers, said analysts.
.
Unlike 10 years ago, when developers were giving discounts on their surplus properties, this time it is individuals who bought during the “unusual” property boom in recent times who are now setting the prices.
.
In the current climate, it’s often about how long they can hold on to their properties before selling it at a loss, or whether they can hold out for the next upswing. Indeed, the last quarter’s decline in prices could be due to the “overly-invested” looking to raise quick cash or make a quick exit, said ERA Asia Pacific’s associate director Eugene Lim.
.
For now, those investors with enough fortitude are holding out for as long as they can.
.
“Sellers are not willing to let go at fire sale prices. And a lot of agents are optimistic that things will pick up; the overall feeling is better than in the last financial crisis,” said property agent Angeline Chong, 35.
.
But, by and large, buyers have the definite upper hand. Most, especially in the high-end segment, says Mr Lim, are waiting in anticipation of price decreases, and astute ones are shopping around for value buys.
.
Agent Peter Yu, 40, who has seen the ups and downs of the market since 1988, said: “1997 was a crazy time, and so was last year, but people are still buying ... It’s all about price, it’s a buyer’s market.”
.
.
Developers have muscle to hold on
.
Meanwhile, developers are likely to hold off new property launches for now, and focus on clearing unsold units in currently marketed projects.
.
According to CB Richard Ellis, six major mass-market projects launched this year had sold just20 to 46 per cent of units as of end-2008.
.
This year and the next will also see more than 7,000 units bought under the Deferred Payment Scheme completed. With the financial crunch and banks tightening credit lines, it is a question of how many may be returned to developers should buyers fail to find the needed financing.
.
Still, price cuts by developers are unlikely as “many of them have done well over the last two years” and have the financial muscle to wait out the downturn, said ERA’s Mr Lim.
.
The one segment that has seen the greatest dive in prices last year: Luxury homes.
.
According to CBRE, new projects under construction in districts 9 and 10 saw a 30- to 35-per-cent fall in prices; those in the much touted Sentosa Cove and Marina Bay experienced a 10- to 13-per-cent dip.
.
But overall, adds CBRE: “The fall in prices may encourage sales and push take-up volume to 5,000 to 6,000 units for the entire year.”

Anonymous said...

Q4 private home price slide is worst in decade

IN its worst showing since Q4 1998, the official private home price index slid 5.7 per cent in Q4 last year over the preceding quarter. For full-year 2008, the index fell 4.3 per cent, reversing a 31.2 per cent jump in 2007.

Some consultants notice yawning bid-ask gaps leading to distressed transacted prices
s worst showing since Q4 1998, the official private home price index slid 5.7 per cent in Q4 last year over the preceding quarter. For full-year 2008, the index fell 4.3 per cent, reversing a 31.2 per cent jump in 2007.




Property consultants are predicting a further decline of 10-20 per cent this year in the benchmark index, with upmarket homes continuing to be the worst hit, as in 2008. This sector was the most overheated during the run-up in 2006 and 2007.

'The bid-ask gap is very high; any buyer that comes in now wants to make sure he's buying at very attractive prices to cushion against future risk. As a result, most transacted prices are quite distressed,' said DTZ executive director Ong Choon Fah.

BT understands buyers are looking at prices at least 20 per cent below Q3 2008 levels before they are willing to commit.

URA's non-landed private home price index for Core Central Region (CCR) fell 6.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q4, or a full-year drop of 5.5 per cent. CCR includes the prime districts, financial district and Sentosa Cove. In the Rest of Central Region, the price drop was 5.5 per cent for Q4, and 4 per cent for the full year. Outside Central Region, a proxy for suburban mass-market locations, suffered the smallest declines, of 4.7 per cent in Q4 and 1.6 per cent for the whole year.

The declines in URA's indices were far smaller than the price drops estimated by property consultants. CB Richard Ellis said that last year, average prices of new luxury homes under construction fell 30 to 35 per cent for prime districts 9 and 10, while those in Marina Bay and Sentosa Cove eased 10-13 per cent.

URA's price indices are weighted according to the moving average mix of transactions for the preceding 12 quarters, and this tends to make changes in the indices more muted during sharp market swings.

For this year, JP Morgan analyst Chris Gee said: 'The critical factor that will affect private home prices in 2009 - probably more importantly than the economy and jobs market - will be banks' financing of property. Banks seem happy to lend to the right type of buyers, but they're more conservative on valuations and tighter on loan-to-value.'

As for developers, smaller players have already started to chop prices. 'Among bigger developers, some are restructuring their portfolios and re-evaluating their risk positions,' DTZ's Mrs Ong noted.

A seasoned developer pointed to a diversity of strategies among developers, according to their financial strength, profit margin for each project and their view of when the recovery will take place. 'Some will cut and sell; some will package things that effectively give more discounts; some will lease instead of selling; some will just sit it out and wait for better times.

'Projects will be slowed down or delayed, stretching out the supply coming into the market, which in itself is a regulating mechanism,' he said.

In the public housing segment, the Housing & Development Board's (HDB) resale flat price index still inched up 1.5 per cent quarter-on-quarter in Q4 to scale a new peak. But this was slower than the 4.2 per cent rise posted in Q3.

ERA Asia Pacific associate director Eugene Lim said: 'We've been seeing more transactions with decreasing cash-over-valuations (COVs). The days of transactions with above $50,000 COVs are over.'

He is predicting a sub-1 per cent rise in the HDB resale flat price index for each of Q1 and Q2 this year. 'If the recovery takes longer, we may see the price index flatten in H2 2009 before decreasing, if the situation worsens.'

Knight Frank director Nicholas Mak predicted a 5 to 10 per cent correction in HDB resale flat prices this year, as the weakening economic conditions filter into the HDB market.

ERA's Mr Lim noted that 'in uncertain times, home buyers go for the 'safer' option of HDB flats to ease their financial burden'. He estimated 30,000 to 31,000 HDB resale transactions were done in 2008 - surpassing the 29,436 in 2007.

As for the private housing sector, CBRE predicted developers may sell 5,000-6,000 units in 2009, as falling prices boost take-up. It put the figure for last year at 4,300 to 4,400 units - just 30 per cent of 2007's record volume. Sales also slowed in the secondary market. CBRE estimated about 7,400 to 7,600 resale deals were done last year - against nearly 21,000 transactions in 2007. The 1,600 to 1,650 subsale deals it estimated for 2008 were also a far cry from the 2007's figure of 4,863.

Anonymous said...

Knight Frank estimated that by the end of 2009, private home prices could come down as much as 20 per cent, while HDB flat prices could decline by 5 to 10 per cent.

In a statement released on Friday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) also reported price changes in three geographical regions for the fourth quarter.

Non-landed private residential property came down by 6.3 per cent in the Core Central Region, while it dipped 5.5 per cent in the rest of the Central area. In areas outside the Central Region, prices slid by about 4.7 per cent.

Ang Mo PR said...

I am surprised that anyone would give any credibility to what agents / real estate analysts might be saying about the market, for they are so obviously biased and full of wishful thinking.

As for any official data from the URA, I haven't been in Singapore for that long (2 years) but it's obvious to me that it is imperfect at best, and completely manipulated at worst. In any case, it lacks transparency and there is no independent data to confirm or invalidate it.

Clearly, critical pieces of data are withheld (DPS data would be a perfect example) and there seems to be a collusion between the Government and the developers to make sure the developers' business does not suffer too much in these lean times. Likewise with the economic predictions of MAS , which even in its revised estimation for 2009 (-2% to +1%) looks way too optimistic in my view. They're trying really hard to not spook everybody off.

As for Q4 transactions, I suspect they are actually much worse than what URA has disclosed. My understanding is what they show is Q4 lodged transactions, and there appears to be a 2-3 months delay between the moment a transaction is concluded and the moment it's actually lodged. Following this logic, the URA Q4 transactions actually show the prices of September - October.

Now, it's really in late September that all the stock markets crashed, quickly followed by dismal information about industrial production / consumer confidence across the globe. So I suspect that the few real estate transactions negociated (not yet lodged) after this period would have seen a massive pressure downwards on prices given the bleak environment. These would effectively be lodged essentially in Q1 2009, so I anticipate an ever biggest drop in Q1 2009 than what we've seen in Q4 2008.

Anonymous said...

Last week there is this news that Wing Tai, a very reputable developer of high end developments, is tangled with owners of a new just 3-yr-old orchard road condominium. The owners, mostly foreign buyers, are complaining of unacceptable and poor workmanship. Apparently police reports have been lodged from both sides.

Seems like reputation is no guarantee for quality.

Leroy said...

Hi Folks,
Prices have plummeted more for sure. Just to show an example with AMANUSA cluster terrace in Yio Chu Kang. Based on URA caveats lodged in May 2008, a 3068 sqft unit was transacted at 1.7m. This Dec 2008, a slightly bigger 3132 sqft unit was transacted at 1.38m. The drop is 20% in terms of PSF from 554 to 441.

We have seen free fall of prices for top end projects in core regions. Mid to low end projects in non-core regions, suburbs etc will not be spared either...

JusACitizen said...

Well said Ang Mo PR. I totally agree with you that there is a serious lack of transparency and high level of manipulation on not just Singapore's property prices but other economic data. This practice is most common when things are not heading in the right direction for the government.

For instance, I almost fell off my chairs when the press (govt's mouthpiece) released a survey in October 2008 that most companies in Singapore will not be retrenching. A few days later, we have DBS axing its workers. This time, the press released another article saying that many companies here are happy to hire new graduates and that's nothing to fear. Well, we'll see about that. My instinct is telling me that most companies are just waiting for the right time to give their workers the big "R". My take is after the budget and the chinese new year. That is when the tsumani will come: the release of 4Q 2008 earnings.

Back to property: Likewise, we will see this tsumani on property prices in the coming months. The manipulation of data is only delaying the real impact. Eventually, the real impact will be felt and we are really going to witness a free-fall in property prices (as well as stock prices) here. To back it up: the property prices in Shanghai and HK. They're way more developed than Singapore as a financial hub and there is no end to the fall in their property prices.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I just saw your blog (very informative), wanted to ask a question.

When do you think is the best time to buy a freehold condo.
What is the avg price for a freehold that is not of high end.

Sori for asking all these, as i am new and want to know more b4 making the decisions. Can you give me a few tips?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

Angmo PR,

Hold off on your positngs till you gain some more experience here, the govt here is mostly pessimistic and always understates growth, research the past 10 year forecast and you will find out

Your logic on URA is hard to understand, they are reporting facts, yes it reflects the prior quarter, so ? they are not claiming the next quarter is going to be better or worse, so what do you mean by manipulation?

in the property market everyone is entitled to their views, you might think prices will crash and wait to buy a condo for 200k , fine , keep waiting, the seller will think it will bounce back and hold on... no one knows the future, everyonw in this forum and elsewhere is just guessing..

Smart Buyer said...

If you talking about price, I think the market is still quite some way to the bottom.

The price of a freehold condo depends on many factors besides tenure: e.g. location, age. The current range is probably from $6xx onwards.

If you can wait, wait for the market to dip further first.

Best wishes.

Leroy said...

For those who are still in the state of denial about falling property prices, please read below news article.

---------------------------------

BULL RUN OVER FOR SINGAPORE PROPERTY

SINGAPORE, Jan 11, 2009 (AFP) - The Year of the Ox begins later this month but the bull run is already over for Singapore's property sector, described as the world's hottest market just two years ago.

Prices of private homes fell 5.7 percent in the fourth quarter, following a 2.4 percent drop in the preceding period, according to the latest data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the state agency responsible for land use planning.

The fourth quarter marked the sharpest drop in home prices in a decade, the URA said.

"FURTHER CONTRACTION IS ON THE WAY," analysts from the Hong Kong-based CLSA brokerage and investment group said in their outlook for the property sector.

"WE CONTINUE TO EXPECT THE URA INDEX TO SEE AN ACCELERATED FALL IN THE NEXT QUARTER," they said.

Local home prices have not fallen so far since 1998 when Singapore was stung by the Asian financial crisis that pushed the local property sector into a slump lasting until 2005, when the government approved the construction of two multi-billion-dollar casino complexes.

By 2007, real estate giant Jones Lang LaSalle was describing Singapore's market as the world's hottest, and the city-state's property prices surged 31 percent overall.

Rents at condominium units favoured by the many expatriates here also dramatically increased, and in some cases doubled.

While fourth-quarter data is preliminary, analysts say the casino-inspired property boom is history now that the economy is in recession.

Analysts said the duration of the current property slump was difficult to predict but they agreed it will hinge on when Singapore pulls out of the recession.

"A lot of it depends on the economy," said Ong Choon Fah, executive director for consulting and research with DTZ real estate consultancy.

"The economy really underpins the market... People have to feel safe about their jobs. That is the first thing," she said.

Serious buyers see pockets of opportunity in the current slump but are being unusually cautious because of the recession, Ong added.

Property agents at a show flat for a yet-to-be built condominium, located less than 20 minutes' drive from the main Orchard Road shopping belt, said they were hopeful, despite the dismal market.

"There will always be buyers even in a tough market and our prices are rather attractive," said one agent, who did not want to be named.

A two-bedroom unit at the condominium, which will come with a heated swimming pool and a gym, sells for about 860,000 Singapore dollars (583,249 US).

In good times, the 915 square-foot (82 square-metre) apartment could fetch at least 915,000 dollars, the agent said.

At another condominium project, launched last year, prices have also eased substantially. A one-bedroom unit measuring 624 square feet is priced at around 800,000 dollars -- compared with almost a million dollars before the slump, the agent for the project said.

Some unsold units remain and the developer is offering incentives, including the absorption of interest charges in the first three years of the loan, providing the mortgage is taken with a preferred bank.

Until the economy recovers, prospective property buyers are likely to hold out in hope of better bargains, said Song Seng Wun, a regional economist with CIMB-GK brokerage.

"I think it's a natural reaction to any big-ticket spending," said Song. "If you are not in a hurry to buy, you will want to wait."

Singapore's economy shrank 12.5 percent in the fourth quarter on a seasonally adjusted annualised quarter-on-quarter basis, its biggest contraction since records began in 1976, the government said.

The city-state was the first country in Asia to fall into a recession when figures released in October showed two straight quarters of economic contraction.

Trade dependent Singapore has suffered as exports to key markets, including the United States and Europe, have fallen during the worst global economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Earlier this month, the government again slashed its economic forecast for 2009, predicting something in the range between a contraction of 2.0 percent and an expansion of 1.0 percent.

Leroy said...

To the guy whom critized Angmo PR, here's my view for you:

It's entirely wrong to say our govt is here is mostly pessimistic. Our govt, any govt, has to play a balancing role. When the economy is overheated, govt will say "slow down boys" and cut back on national projects. When is economy is heading south, govt will say "it's ok folks, pls continue to spend on shopping" and they (govt) will also invest in public projects.

During August period, when the world economy was already crumbling, what was our govt/media focus? If you remembered, after our PM national day rally, there were so focus about getting people to marry and making babies... These articles dominated all media, I meant ALL media for weeks! This in part was trying to avert people from the doom and gloom, I think...? And govt also encouraged "spend if you can".

Unfortunately, with the collapse of Lehman Bros, nobody could turn their head from reality. And with all the imminent retrenchment coming... there is no way, but for the govt to prepare/educate people for the worst.

Therefore, it is wrong to say our govt is pessimistic. I would say they are conservative and prudent. Bear in mind, what they know and what they announce to the public need not be the same. For now, they have to push market sentiments up, and show a lot of (measured) optimism.

PropertyFacts said...

Dear Anonymous (dated 11 January 2009),

It seems to me that you're a seller (mind my speculation like the others). Well, whether Ang Mo PR is right or wrong, one thing is for sure and that is the property market is coming down. Definitely, it'll not be possible to get a condo at 200K but perhaps back to around 350 to 400K in the mass market. That is still a huge drop from around 550K at peak time.

Why is that? You have to read the newspaper and what our dear contributors have said here. That is not speculation but facts. Something that property agents and sellers don't like to face.

Ang Mo PR made a good point. Isn't it true that our government loves to cover up facts?

Ang Mo PR said...

Well, first, thanks to the couple of guys who actually supported (at least in part) my logic.

Now, to respond to "Anonymous" directly:

- I find it amusing to get this patronizing tone ("hold off postings until you gain more experience) from someone whose head is so firmly buried in the sand. Clearly, all your "experience" still hasn't taught you a thing about economic cycles or real estate for that matter.

- As for the alleged pessimism of the government, here's some facts for you: MAS started the year 2008 with a prediction for growth of 6%-8%. Then they went on revising it down EVERY SINGLE MONTH until they concluded that the actual growth rate was only 1.5% in 2008. So they "only" missed the mark by 4.5% to 6.5%. Granted, it must have been difficult to predict steadily in this environment, but still the gap between the predictions and actuals is staggering. For 2009, MAS predict -2% to +1%, when Deutsche Bank already predicts -4.5%. Given that we are hearing the worst string of economic news since WWII, I'm more enclined to believe Deutsche Bank. And, even then, my view is that the Government is going to have to increase public spending dramatically to avoid slipping even further than this.

- URA proces: what I'm trying to say there is that the methodology is imperfect to determine the price over a period, and there is a lag between the moment a price is negotiated and the moment it gets into the statistics. And that real negotiated prices for Q4 were in fact much lower than the ones we just got. Well, we just have to wait until the end of Q1 to see if this has some merit.

- besides, the information IS incomplete: for instance, URA must know how many DPS units have already secured a bank loan, but for some reason this is not disclosed anywhere. Maybe to avoid a panic when people realize a good share of those 4,500 units coming TOP in 2009 have not yet secured a bank loan in an environment where it's really tough to get one.

- I find it really, really hard to understand when people say they expect property to bounce back sometime in 2009. Of course, everyone is entitled their opinion, but having studied the way property behaved in the 2 precendent boom-bust cycles in Singapore, this is just going against historical data. Who on earth is still going to buy an expensive property in Singapore when other countries are already way down for real estate and present far more upside opportunities in the long run?

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