UPDATE 2-Dutch housing facing Spain-like slump, says builder BAM

Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:59am EDT

Related Topics

* House prices could fall by up to 30 pct from 2008 peak - BAM

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* Posts H1 loss, takes impairments of nearly 400 mln euros

* BAM shares fall 4 pct (Adds CEO comment, background)

By Anthony Deutsch

AMSTERDAM, Aug 23 (Reuters) - A slump in the Dutch housing sector could last until 2015 and hurt as much as the collapse seen in Spanish property, the country's biggest construction firm, BAM, warned on Thursday.

In one of the most pessimistic views from a major firm yet, BAM said it expected average house prices to fall another 10 to 15 percent, taking them to levels similar to those in debt-stricken Spain.

It came as BAM posted a surprise mid-year loss, taking impairments of nearly 400 million euros and writing down the value of its property and land portfolio by 25 percent.

"In our models, we are now counting on further price drops in 2012 and 2013, in total to a 25-30 percent drop," Chief Executive Nico de Vries said of the market.

"That's about the level of Spain and I would think that would take us to somewhere near the bottom."

A further 15 percent decline would take the fall in Dutch home values to 30 percent from a 2008 peak, similar to the slump seen in Spain, one of the countries hit hardest by the euro zone debt crisis.

Having previously forecast the Dutch market would hit bottom in the second quarter of 2012, BAM said it now did not see a rebound likely before 2014 or 2015.

"From 2015 on, we'll see a slow inflation-linked rise in the housing market," De Vries told reporters.

Most Dutch banks and economists have said they expect prices in the Netherlands, an European Union member with a triple A debt rating, to reach a low this year before stabilising in 2013.

SURPRISE H1 LOSS

BAM posted a net loss of 251 million euros for the first half of 2012 after a net profit of 66 million a year earlier.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a net profit of about 95 million euros and the builder's shares were down by 4 percent to 2.47 euros as of 1147 GMT.

BAM said it had written off a quarter of the value its Dutch land holdings and real estate development projects, from 1.49 billion euros to 1.27 billion euros, due to the worsening outlook.

"BAM now expects future property developments to be later in terms of timing, fewer in terms of homes per development and lower in terms of average selling prices," it said in a statement.

"The markets for both existing home sales and new home construction are frozen. That's a concern," De Vries said.

Dutch consumer confidence and economic growth are closely linked to home prices, where high valuations have been used for decades to leverage household debt.

They have fallen by roughly 15 percent since 2008, but have come down gradually, while land prices have remained relatively stable.

Moody's has highlighted the risk to Dutch government bond credit ratings from the euro zone debt crisis and the country's high level of mortgage debt.

The country, by some measures, has the highest per capita mortgage debt of all 27 EU members at 105 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

By 2013, nearly a quarter of households will have negative equity, mortgage lender ING said this month. (Additional reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; editing by Jason Neely)

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