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Singapore private home prices may rise up to 10% this year, says CapitaLand CEO

[SINGAPORE] Singapore housing prices may rise as much as 10 per cent this year, following a pickup in home sales, the chief executive officer of Southeast Asia's biggest developer said.

"Transaction volume has gone up and usually that's a precursor to some price increase," Lim Ming Yan, the president and CEO of CapitaLand Ltd., said in an interview in Singapore. "A 5-to-10 per cent increase is possible this year barring any unforeseen major volatility in the capital markets."

Lim was speaking after the developer said net income fell 38 per cent to S$267.7 million in the three months ended Dec 31 after finishing fewer homes to sell in China.

Still, CapitaLand shares rose 2 per cent to S$3.54 at 11:59am in Singapore, the biggest advance since Oct 5, after the company raised its full-year dividend 20 per cent.

Rising prices and climbing sales are reinforcing signs the city-state's residential market is emerging from a four-year slump. Developers have been aggressively bidding for land on the back of the recovery.

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CapitaLand, which has largely stayed away from the bidding war, said Tuesday it bought Pear Bank Apartments, a redevelopment project near the central business district, for S$728 million, which it will turn into an 800-unit residential complex.

"We continue to look for opportunities in Singapore but we feel the kind of bidding, the price, is too aggressive for us," Lim said. "We bid in a very disciplined manner."

Lim's view is in line with other forecasts. Private home prices may rise as much as 10 per cent this year, according to analysts at Credit Suisse Group, while Morgan Stanley and OCBC Investment Research expect as much as an 8 per cent increase, according to reports from the brokerage firms.


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