Tags: asia | housing | bubbles

Asian Leaders Fear New Housing Bubbles

Monday, 09 Nov 2009 10:10 AM

By Dan Weil

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As housing prices surge higher across Asia, governments and central banks are tightening policy to prevent a bubble.

In Hong Kong, luxury apartment prices have soared 30 percent from the fourth quarter of last year, according to the Financial Times. And in Singapore home prices jumped 15.8 percent in the third quarter from the second.

These rallies follow declines during the global financial crisis.

So in Singapore, the government has ended bank programs that allowed home buyers to defer mortgage payments on uncompleted developments.

South Korea’s financial regulator has imposed stricter borrowing rules, and Hong Kong’s central bank has announced that low interest rates aren’t sustainable.

But no country except Australia has actually raised rates. The worry is that higher rates could send economies back into recession.

In addition, it’s not clear that a bubble indeed exists.

Legendary investor Jim Rogers, who lives in Singapore, certainly doesn’t see one.

“I would not think about buying in Hong Kong or Shanghai, but it is not so widespread that all of Asia is in some sort of property bubble,” he told the Financial Times.

“It may happen. . . but I don’t think it’s happening now.”

Jeffrey Furber, CEO of AEW Capital Management, a Boston firm that is investing in Asian real estate, agrees.

"A bubble comes from too much credit, too much lending. Asia's never suffered from that," he told Asian Investor magazine.

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