Real News‎ > ‎2014‎ > ‎March 2014‎ > ‎

10th March 2014

Singapore Real Estate

Steep prices stall resale of DBSS flats

Source: Straits Times

The first premium flats from the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) have been on the resale market for months, but hefty price tags are making deals unlikely, said experts. As of January, some residents of The Premiere @ Tampines have lived there for five years and can now sell their units.

Views, Reviews and Forum

Cut cooling measures? But prices still near record highs

Source: Today Online / Voices

I refer to the report “COV for HDB flats falls to zero as resale volume slumps” (March 7). The report comes in the wake of recent calls by developers and property agencies that the Government scale back the cooling measures for the property market, before the market crashes.

I find such calls absurd, premature and not in the national interest.

First, the actual selling prices for the various properties have hardly moved from all-time peaks.

If private homes prices are a good measure of price movements, data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) in January showed that prices fell by 0.9 per cent in the final three months of the year from the previous quarter. In the years prior to that, we saw increases in almost every quarter. For the whole of last year, private home prices rose by 1.1 per cent, following a 2.8 per cent increase in 2012, a 5.9 per cent increase in 2011, and 17.6 per cent in 2010.

Second, sky-high properties prices are not in the interest of Singapore’s residents and businesses. They will translate into high rental and housing cost, driving away investment.

Singapore must not lose its edge as an attractive global business and commercial centre. According to a recent Economist Intelligence Unit survey, we are now the most expensive city in the world for expatriates. Surely, we do not want to remain so for too long.

-From Jack Koh

Global Economy & Global Real Estate

China's February inflation rate up 2%

This is its slowest rise in 13 months; producer prices fall for 24th month

Source: Business Times / China

[BEIJING] China's consumer prices rose at their slowest rate in 13 months in February as pork prices fell by their most in over a year, a sign that slowing growth rather than rising prices poses a bigger risk to the world's second-biggest economy.

The consumer price index rose 2 per cent in February from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday, exactly in line with market expectations. Pork prices fell 9 per cent.

And in an indication that China's economy is fighting substantial slack, producer prices fell for the 24th consecutive month by dropping 2 per cent, slightly above forecasts for a 1.9 per cent drop.

The tepid price data could fuel investor worries about the health of China's economy, which drew new concerns last week after figures showed export growth slumped by nearly a fifth last month.

-From Beijing, China

Egypt’s Al-Seesi Pledges to Build 1 Million Homes as Vote Looms

Source: Bloomberg / News

Abdel-Fattah al-Seesi, the Egyptian defense minister who has signaled he may seek the presidency, started a campaign to build one million housing units.

The project will have a total value of $40 billion, according to a statement yesterday by United Arab Emirates-based Arabtec Holding Co., which will build the homes with Egypt’s armed forces over five years. It will focus on Egyptians with “limited income,” according to statements posted yesterday on the official Facebook page of military spokesman Ahmed Mohamed Ali.

Al-Seesi has said that he can’t ignore popular calls for him to run for president, though he hasn’t officially announced his candidacy. The U.A.E., Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have pledged billions of dollars in aid for Egypt since the ouster of President Mohamed Mursi in July.

“The chances are that if he stands, he is going to win anyway,” Ghanem Nuseibeh, founder of Cornerstone Global Associates, which advises clients on risk in the Middle East, said of al-Seesi. “The key message is that both the providers of the aid and the military are seeking to sort out the long-term challenges, to address the root-causes of dissent in Egypt, and much of that is economic.”

Hasan Abdullah Ismaik, Arabtec’s chief executive officer, said the plan reflects the U.A.E’s desire to support Egypt’s leadership, the military statement cited him as saying. The housing project will be the largest in the Arab world and will provide jobs for more than one million Egyptians, Ismaik said. Taher Abdullah, head of the armed forces engineering authority, said details of the project are still being studied.

Free Land

Ismaik told reporters in televised comments that al-Seesi has “insisted” on offering the land for the project for free.

Arabtec shares climbed 1.7 percent, the most since Feb. 25, to 4.8 dirhams at the close in Dubai.

“The army is possibly playing the role of the guarantor of the deployment of aid money,” said Wael Ziada, head of research at Cairo-based investment bank EFG-Hermes Holding SAE. “Arabtec is a candidate to win more projects if they have the ability to execute, given their close ties with Abu Dhabi,”

In Egypt, complaints about high prices and unemployment, coupled with political grievances, fueled anger at Mursi and predecessor Hosni Mubarak who was toppled in a 2011 revolt. The challenges will remain for whoever lands the top job next.

Presidential Timber

Al-Seesi is hailed by supporters as the only man who can restore security and stability after years of turmoil. His opponents say a presidential bid would confirm that his leadership in Mursi’s ouster was a “coup” and accuse him of spearheading a bloody campaign against the Islamist leader’s supporters since.

Egypt’s economy is likely to grow less than the government’s target of at least 3 percent because of political turmoil, Ashraf el-Arabi, minister of planning and international cooperation, said yesterday. Speaking in an interview in Cairo, el-Arabi said that he hopes that gross domestic product growth will exceed 2 percent in the fiscal year that ends in June.

The average estimate of 16 economists on Bloomberg is for 2.8 percent growth in 2014. Finance Minister Hany Kadry said this month that the economy grew 1.4 percent in the second quarter of the fiscal year.

-By Mariam Fam and Alaa Shahine