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    Casinos to boost property prices

2005-12-23 08:04

MACAO: Two leading real estate agencies, Centaline Property and Midland Realty, have predicted that residential units could sell at prices up to 15 per cent higher next year.

A senior manager of the board of Centaline (Macao) Property Agency Ltd said yesterday that the property market broke several records this year. Prices of premium apartments, for example, increased by more than 40 per cent to 4,200 pataca per square foot.

Prices for business space also rose by 30 per cent over 2005.

The company's Macao Regional Executive Director, Kwok Chiu-ming, also said that the scheduled opening of several large hotel-casino resorts next year would give the local economy a strong boost, which consolidated in 2005 following the so-called "Sands effect" in 2004.

Midland Realty (Macao) Chief Executive Officer Ronald Cheung was optimistic about next year's prospects, too. He said on Wednesday the first quarter would probably be quiet, as investors wait for the right time to make a move, which he said would likely happen in the second and third quarters.

The Fisherman's Wharf, a theme park-like complex featuring a 40-metre artificial volcano and a Roman plaza, will open on New Year's Day. The huge, Vegas-style Wynn Macao Resort is expected to give the local economy a further boost when it opens its doors in August.

Galaxy Entertainment Group will also open two casinos in March and May. Its flagship StarWorld Hotel is slated to be up and running by the second half of next year.

As the enclave continues to attract overseas businesses with its rapidly growing economy, the property market will likely see prices increase by 10 to 15 per cent, Kwok said, adding that sales volume should rise by 20 per cent in 2006.

All of these new businesses are competing against each other for local staff, which should raise salaries as Macao's manpower shortage worsens. The added income will then likely be invested in property.

(HK Edition 12/23/2005 page3)


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