Tue, Jul 04, 2017 - Page 10 News List

Singapore’s home prices extend losing streak

15TH QUARTER:One analyst said his firm does not expect prices to recover this year after the MAS’ chief executive said the time was not right to ease cooling measures


Singapore home prices fell in the quarter ended last month, extending the drop in property values to a record 15th quarter as most measures to cool the market remain in place despite a slight easing in March.

An index tracking private residential prices fell 0.3 percent in the three months ended June 30 from the previous quarter, according to preliminary data from Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority released yesterday.

The almost four-year decline in prices is the longest since the data was first published in 1975.

Singapore’s leaders, determined to keep a lid on home prices in the city-state, have unleashed a series of measures to cool the market since 2009.

The government in March rolled back some property-market restrictions for the first time in eight years, although has cautioned that those adjustments do not signal an unwinding of the measures.

“We don’t expect a recovery in prices this year — even though we have seen some improvement in market sentiment — as the central bank has indicated it won’t be easing curbs anytime soon,” said Nicholas Mak, head of research at SLP International Property Consultants in Singapore. “We will continue to see a small gradual decline in prices for the rest of the year.”

Prices in prime areas declined 0.9 percent in the quarter, while suburban homes were 0.4 percent lower in the three months that ended last month, the data showed.

The government in March reduced the stamp duty imposed on sellers and some mortgage restrictions. That helped stoke optimism that Singapore’s property market is rebounding, with home sales jumping and developers making more aggressive bids at land auctions.

Home sales in the first five months this year have risen about 75 percent from the same period a year ago, data showed.

While the property market has stabilized, it is “not time yet to ease the cooling measures. They remain necessary,” Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) Managing Director Ravi Menon told reporters on Thursday at the release of the bank’s annual report.

Mortgage rates are very low and “the risk of a renewed unsustainable surge in property prices is not trivial,” he said last week.

“Demand was already on the upswing before the easing of the measures in March 2017, driven by more attractive prices and a perception that the market is closer to the bottom,” Jones Lang LaSalle Inc national director of research and consultancy Ong Teck Hui said.

The announcement from the central bank “would, however, temper unrealistic expectations of some buyers so that they will not be carried away by exuberance and be more measured in their purchasing decisions,” Ong said.

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