Singapore home prices may drop 10-15%, says DBS CEO

Singapore’s property prices could fall by 10 to 15 per cent this year, as government cooling measures and mortgage curbs continue to dampen the property market.

This is the outlook from DBS Bank’s CEO Piyush Gupta.

His comment came during the bank’s results briefing on Friday.

Since 2009, the government has rolled out a series of measures to rein in property prices, and the impact is showing.

In the final quarter of 2013, private home prices fell 0.9 per cent from the previous three months — the first decline in nearly two years.

Mr Gupta said he expects property prices to correct by 10 to 15 per cent this year, with high-end homes taking a bigger hit.

His views are more bearish than those of most property analysts, who see home prices declining by 5 to 10 per cent.

However, DBS said it is not overly concerned about the impact of a sharp correction in residential property prices on its loans portfolio.

Mr Gupta said: “All our stress tests in the past have shown that we can easily withstand a 30 per cent reduction in Singapore property prices without having any material impact on our portfolio in Singapore.”

He added that the quantum and extent of correction will also depend on any tweaks in macro-prudential policies by the government and Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Meanwhile, United Overseas Bank’s CEO Wee Ee Cheong also expects to see a downward pressure on home prices, especially on the high-end property segment.

However, he said it is difficult to predict the extent of correction in property prices as it also depends on factors such as the interest rate environment, economic conditions and housing supply situation.

For now, DBS said it saw a 30 to 35 per cent reduction in mortgage applications as a result of the Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework put in place last June.

Over at OCBC, home loans volume fell by some 40 to 50 per cent in the last few quarters.

Housing and bridging loans account for about 30 per cent of total loans in the banking system in Singapore.

One concern among some observers is whether households will be able to carry a heavier debt burden as global interest rates start to normalise.

Samuel Tsien, CEO of OCBC Bank, said: “Because of the warnings that have been given — and I think both the regulators and the banks have been very disciplined in making sure that borrowers understand the impact on them — we believe that when the interest rate rises, it will be within the capacity of the borrowers.”

OCBC said it does not expect global interest rates to rise till 2015, while DBS said it won’t be surprised if rates start to rise only from 2017.

DBS said more borrowers are taking on fixed rate loans to protect themselves from a rising interest rate environment.

Source CNA 16 Feb 2014


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