S’pore Q1 home prices plunge 14pc

By BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s home prices plunged 14 per cent in the first quarter, the most in at least 16 years, as the global financial crisis and a recession deterred buyers.

The price index of private residential property fell to 140.3 points in the three months ended March 31 from 162.8 in the previous quarter, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

That’s the largest drop since the first quarter of 1993, according to the earliest data provided by the government agency.

Residential prices have retreated for three straight quarters, ending a four-year rally.

The island-state’s trade ministry has forecast the economy may shrink by as much as 5 per cent this year, the largest contraction on record, amid the worsening global recession.

“Developers have already made a quantum leap in reducing prices in the first quarter and although further declines in launch prices can be expected, the incremental drop is likely to be marginal and more gradual,” Tay Huey Ying, Colliers International’s Singapore-based director for research and advisory, said in an e-mail. “The overall residential property price decline for 2009 is forecast to be in the region of 25 per cent to 30 per cent.”

Prices for private homes in the so-called core central area dropped 15 per cent last quarter and retreated 17 per cent elsewhere in central Singapore, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority. They fell 7.5 per cent across other parts of the island, yesterday’s statement showed.

The data is based on transactions in the first 10 weeks of the quarter, the government agency said. It will provide an update in four weeks.

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