Published January 15, 2011

CapitaLand chief expects home prices, sales volume to fall


CAPITALAND chief executive Liew Mun Leong expects private home prices and sales volume to fall following the latest round of government measures to cool the property market.

But he said he is 'not too unhappy' with the measures as it will make it easier for the group to win land parcels in government tenders.

Describing Thursday's measures as 'incremental', Mr Liew, who helms Singapore's largest listed property group, said some developers are driving up land prices by bidding very aggressively. He was speaking at a lecture at the National University of Singapore yesterday.

'We are amazed at the prices that come out (in government land tenders),' he said. 'Not that we are jealous ... but when we look at the numbers, we know that we can't do it ... So in a way, we agree that there is some speculative chasing for land.'

CapitaLand will go ahead with its plans to launch 1,700 mostly upmarket homes in 2011 as it will be 'business as usual'. The units will come from five projects - The Nassim, Urban Resort Condominium, The Interlace, d'Lee-don and the residential component of a new development at Bedok Town Centre.

The group last week said it expects private home prices to rise by 5-10 per cent in 2011 after climbing 17.6 per cent in 2010. In the high-end segment, prices could climb by 10-15 per cent this year, it said. But yesterday, Mr Liew said prices will fall following the new measures. However, he is still upbeat about the high-end and luxury market, which draws cash-rich investors.

Looking ahead, he said the measures will separate serious developers from speculators: 'These types of measures will differentiate the real estate developers who helped with Singapore's urbanisation from the speculators, who build shoebox apartments.'

But he added that he hopes that just as the government has been quick to act in a property upcycle, it will also work to fine- tune its policies in a down-market when demand tapers off.