Friday, August 3, 2012

Home prices 'likely to remain stable'

Straits Times: Thu, Aug 02

HOME prices are likely to flatline over the next six months, with falling interest from foreign home buyers eliminating the need for more cooling measures, according to CapitaLand bosses yesterday.

President and chief executive Liew Mun Leong said the additional buyer's stamp duty of up to 10 per cent introduced in December last year has met its aim of dampening foreign demand.

Foreign buyers and companies accounted for only 7 per cent of the private home market in the first half of the year, down from 20 per cent for all of last year.

"What the Government wants to do is to make sure that foreign buyers are not overheating the purchase of apartments," said Mr Liew, speaking at the company's half-year results briefing at Capital Tower. "I think that has been effective. Whether they will do more because we've done better in the second quarter is anybody's guess. But with that objective met, my personal view is I don't think they will further tighten it."

Mr Wong Heang Fine, chief executive of CapitaLand Residential, told the meeting that "strong fundamentals" will keep home prices stable for this half of the year.

Developers sold almost 12,000 new homes in the first half of the year, 48 per cent more than in the same period last year.

But CapitaLand sold just 259 homes here in the first half, with a total value of $467 million, in projects such as Sky Habitat, The Interlace and d'Leedon. Mr Wong said new units will continue to be released at its launched projects, which should lead to more sales in the second half.

Home purchasing momentum accelerated in the second quarter in China and Singapore, compared with the first quarter, the company noted. CapitaLand has invested $2.4 billion in new projects this year, including buying the Olinas Mall in Tokyo and office project Twenty Anson here, and has a war chest of $5.1 billion.

Mr Liew said this strong cash position allows it to take advantage of any opportunistic acquisitions that might arise due to the unravelling euro-zone crisis.

Broadly, it will be looking to build up its residential land bank, particularly in Singapore, but also in China, in the value-homes segment. It will also look at developing or acquiring more malls.

"Malaysia looks very interesting to us now, but it is a matter of opportunities," Mr Liew said. He has asked chief executive of special projects Margaret Goh to look into possible opportunities there.

CapitaLand's second-quarter net profit dipped 3.3 per cent to $385.9 million from the same period last year, though revenue for the three months to June 30 rose 16.5 per cent to $862.5 million.

Quarterly earnings per share was 9.1 cents, compared with 9.4 cents a year earlier, while net asset value per share came in at $3.54, up from $3.51 as of Dec 31.

CapitaLand shares closed up four cents at $3.04 yesterday.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C
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