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UPDATE 2-Surging Singapore home prices heighten bubble worries

 * Q3 URA private home index up 16 pct after 4 qtrs of
decline
 * Data lags actual price movements, demand still strong
 * Analysts say cbank likely to keep policy neutral in Oct
 * Resale prices of govt-built apartments up 3.2 pct in Q3
 * Singapore moved last month to cool property speculation
 (Updates with details)
 By Neil Chatterjee and Kevin Lim
 SINGAPORE, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Singapore private home prices
surged 15.9 percent in the third quarter from the previous
quarter, the biggest jump this decade, government data showed
on Thursday, highlighting fears about a property market bubble.
 Worries about dangerously inflated house prices in Asia
being fanned by record low interest rates have led to
speculation that countries including South Korea and Australia
could move to tighten monetary policy. [ID:nSYD487034]
[ID:nSEO144752]
 Singapore last month acted to cool the property market by
releasing more land and making it harder for home buyers to
defer payments, but analysts said policymakers were likely to
hold off on further steps for fear of derailing a still patchy
economic recovery.
 Singapore home prices started rising in Q2, analysts say,
contrary to a 4.7 percent decline for that quarter shown in the
Urban Redevelopment Authority's index, which is not seasonally
adjusted. Huge crowds have been snapping up units at new
residential launches in Singapore, with reports of buyers
queuing for hours and leaving blank cheques with agents to
secure properties.
 "The numbers are backing up the anecdotal evidence we've
seen -- if anything they are understating it," said Vishnu
Varathan, an economist at 4CAST in Singapore, commenting on .
"Policymakers will be acutely aware of the risks of tightening
too fast...At this point I think they will wait and see."
 Varathan and most economists expect the Monetary Authority
of Singapore to keep policy neutral when it releases its
half-year policy statement later this month. Singapore
forecasts its economy will contract 4-6 percent in 2009 and
sees a subdued recovery likely continuing in 2010.
[ID:nSP429778]
 YET TO PEAK?
 Prices of government-built apartments, which house about 85
percent of Singaporeans, rose 3.2 percent in the third quarter
from April-June, faster than the 1.4 percent gain in the second
quarter, raising the floor for private home prices.
 Some analysts think rising house prices in Singapore, Hong
Kong and China are yet to peak, given a preference for property
among investors and a faster-than-expected economic recovery.
[ID:nSIN524230]
 But such strong price rises are unlikely to be sustained in
the fourth quarter, when developers were seen releasing more
projects and the government would open up more land for
development, property analysts said.
 Mohamed Ismail, CEO of PropNex, a firm of housing agents,
said private home prices will likely moderate and show growth
of 2-3 percent a quarter over the next 12 months as developers
are wary of provoking further anti-speculation measures.
 The preliminary Q3 data had little impact on property
stocks, since it often lags actual price movements.
 Shares in Singapore's top property firm CapitaLand
CATL.SI were little changed after the data, down 0.9 percent
at S$3.69 by 0647 GMT. But the stock has more than doubled
since early March, outperforming the Singapore index's .FTSTI
74 percent gain.
 Singapore's Urban Redevelopment Authority index data:
                 (qtr/qtr pct change)
                 Q3/09   Q2/09   Q1/09   Q4/08   Q3/08 
Q2/08 Private home prices  +15.9   -4.7   -14.1    -6.1    -2.4
 +0.2
 (Editing by Lincoln Feast)



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