Home Buyers in Asia Play the Waiting Game
After enjoying a boom in recent years, Asia's real estate sector is starting to feel the knock-on effects of the U.S. housing downturn and a slowing global economy.
Would-be property buyers in cities like Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney aren't as enthusiastic over the prospect of purchasing homes as they were a couple of years ago. The general consensus is that you can get a better bargain if you're willing to wait a few months.
Hong Kong's property market hit a 10-year high in late 2007, but volatile stock markets and stricter lending practices are feeding into more cautious buying sentiment.
"Over the next few months, we're likely to see the market remain reasonably flat," said Peter Churchouse of Lim Advisors. But Churchouse believes the risk is still to the upside more than the downside on a 12-month view.
Hong Kong isn't alone. In neighboring Singapore, there is a growing sense that prices have peaked and that the market on the verge of a correction.
"It's very quiet right now. So far I have not had any sales because the buyers are all very cautious. They're all waiting for the market to come down," lamented real estate agent Doris Quek of Vanessa Terk Property Consultants.
The picture is expected to get worse, with high-end residential property prices expected to fall as much as 40%, a report from Credit Suisse said.
The Australian property market also hasn't escaped the wrath of the subprime crisis, in spite of the country's mining-driven boom.
While double digit growth in housing prices across several cities have became the norm, consecutive interest rate hikes, higher building costs and the slowing world economy have turned the soaring market on its head.
"We saw prices come off 9% to 10% and most of this was in the outer suburbs. Affordability issues are the biggest problems here -- the most impacted by rate rises," said Rod Cornish, head of research at Macquarie Real Estate.
With prices expected to continue falling in Asia, it's no surprise that potential buyers are happy to play the waiting game.