Singapore’s home sales surge

SINGAPOREAfter years of declines, Singapore’s home sales are on a roll, even as purchases by foreign buyers have remained muted.

Stringent stamp duties levied by the government have had the intended effect of damping speculative foreign demand, with foreign buyers accounting for just 6% of purchases in the first half, data from Cushman & Wakefield show. That compares to 9% as recently as 2013, when mortgage rules were tightened.

Developers sold 7,147 private homes in the first seven months of the year, 50% higher than in the same period a year earlier. So who’s buying all these homes? It’s local Singaporeans.

Among foreign buyers, the biggest pullback was by Malaysian and Indonesian buyers, while Chinese demand held steady. Malaysian

buyers among foreign purchasers dropped from 26% in 2013 to 21% in the first-half of this year, while the Indonesian proportion slid to 6% from 17% in 2013. The Chinese share, the biggest of any group, has been at 29% or 30% since 2013.

Developers are citing signs of a recovery in the housing market. CapitaLand Ltd CEO Lim Ming Yan said this month that the residential market may be “bottoming out”, while City Developments Ltd, executive chairman Kwek Leng Beng also saw signs of a pick-up.

Singapore’s property prices have dropped for 15 straight quarters, the longest slide since the data were first published in 1975, because of cooling measures rolled out since 2009. Home values are down 12% from a 2013 peak. — Bloomberg