Developers last year completed the fewest new homes in 38 years, contributing to a rise in property prices that stopped some people fulfilling their dream of homeownership. Home prices rose 30 per cent last year, according to property agency Centaline's City Leading Index, and analysts believe a shortage of new flats will contribute to a 15 per cent increase in prices this year. Transport and Housing Bureau figures show that only 7,200 new homes were completed last year, 18 per cent fewer than a year earlier and the smallest number since 1972. The total was 40 per cent below the government's forecast early last year. New-home sales rose 60 per cent, to 15,913, last year from 9,955 in 2008. There were about 48,000 new flats available for sale by the end of last month, compared with 54,000 a year earlier. The cancellation of regular government land auctions and the reluctance of developers to trigger land sales have been blamed for the drop in completions. The figures are bad news for people like Vincent Chau, a merchandiser who has been dreaming of buying a flat since 2008. 'Buying a home is a big investment. I am still concerned about job security and that the global economy might collapse again,' he said. 'It will be difficult for me to buy a flat this year if prices keep going up.' Centaline executive director Louis Chan said home seekers should consider their financial situation and job security before buying. 'Property prices will rise 15 per cent this year, but most of the growth will occur in the first quarter,' he said. 'The outlook for the second half remains uncertain. It largely depends on [whether interest rates] rise.' Since 2002, when 31,052 new flats were completed, new-home completions have fallen for seven years in a row. The total dropped below 10,000 for the first time two years ago. Research by Centaline suggests 12,000 to 14,000 homes will be completed this year. 'But the total depends on the approval of government and the progress of construction work,' said Wong Leung-shing, an associate director of research at the firm. Surveyor Chan Cheong-kit believes there will not be a substantial increase in supply until 2012 since developers have bought few sites in the past two years. 'The demand for housing will continue to increase, as the economy is improving,' Chan said. 'Property prices will definitely go up this year owing to the limited future residential supply.'