Chilling wind over property market

Chilling wind over property market

THE cooling measures announced yesterday will surely send a chilling wind throughout the property market in the weeks and months ahead.

The seventh and most comprehensive set of measures so far are targeted at those looking to park their excess cash in the local property market.

Singaporeans looking to buy more than one property will have to pay additional buyer's stamp duty of between 7 per cent and 10 per cent.

Their loan amounts will also be drastically slashed, as the Government took aim at those who are looking to profit from extremely low interest rates today.

Analysts such as Mr Alan Cheong, Singapore research head at Savills, were shocked at the move.

"It is as if I have a rodent problem, but I'm going to drop a nuclear bomb on this," he said.

The measures are, without a doubt, harsh. But will they prove to be an overkill?

From the Government's point of view, the moves were clearly needed to cool a market where prices are "running ahead of fundamentals", as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday.

He also revealed that the set of measures had been prepared weeks ago and that they were "just waiting for fourth quarter numbers" to release them.

"We were quite concerned about the re-acceleration in prices that we've seen in both the private market and the HDB resale market," he said.

In other words, the move was not a knee-jerk reaction but a calculated move aimed at sucking out speculative demand in a market that just cannot get enough of property investments.

Earlier this month, on the day fresh economic data was released to show that Singapore's economy had grown by just 1.1 per cent in the final three months of last year, property prices had risen by a larger than expected 1.8 per cent.

And for the whole of last year, while the economy grew by just 1.2 per cent, the property market rose by 2.8 per cent.

In fact, in the first three weeks of January, there were signs that the property market was picking up again.

Echelon, a 508-unit condo in Alexandra View tagged at a pricey $1,700 per sq ft (psf) on average, sold 200 units just last weekend.

It has been a similar story in public sector housing.

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