Singapore home sales rebound as buyers move past curbs


SINGAPORE • Private home sales in Singapore jumped 51% in September as developers marketed more projects post the hungry-ghost festival month, a period Chinese buyers consider inauspicious, and as buyers moved past the additional cooling measures imposed in July.

Developers in the city-state sold 932 units, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said in a statement yesterday. That compares to 617 units in August, the data show. Total apartments launched for sale last month more than doubled to 1,169. The 932 apartments were 42% higher year-on-year.

Singapore private home prices are still inching higher — albeit at the slowest pace in five quarters. An index tracking private residential prices increased 0.5% in the three months ended Sept 30 versus a 3.4% advance in the June quarter, according to a flash estimate from the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Oct 1.

“Market confidence seems to have improved with seven new private residential projects launched in September,” said Ong Teck Hui, national director of research and consultancy at Jones Lang LaSalle Singapore. “While it is early days to make a pronouncement of the full effects of the cooling measures, it would appear that while demand has slowed, many buyers are still on the market and are prepared to purchase at prices which they deem as reasonable.”

Singapore took renewed steps in July to cool the island’s property market after home prices rose more than 7% in the first six months of the year. A rush of transactions was fuelled by aggressive land bids from developers and so-called en-bloc transactions, which is where a group of owners band together to sell an entire apartment building.

Under the new rules, individuals taking out their first housing loan face stricter borrowing limits, meaning they have to stump up more cash upfront.

For foreign purchasers of residential property, the additional buyer’s stamp duty was increased to 20% from 15%. For Singapore citizens, the extra charges only apply from their second home purchase.

Home prices on the island may rise as much as 10% by the end of 2019 and are on track to double by 2030 as faster income growth overpowers the recent property curbs and higher interest rates, Morgan Stanley said last week.