Foreigners flee tepid property market

SINGAPORE - Cooling measures have successfully put a damper on the number of foreigners purchasing Singapore property, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.

Foreign buying in the private-property market has shrunk both in absolute numbers and in proportion, with 330 transactions in the third quarter of the year, from about 1,400 per quarter, he said in Parliament.

This number makes up just 7 per cent of total private-property transactions, down from 17 per cent in 2011.

He also said that sub-sale transactions - a measure of the amount of property speculation - have dropped to 4.6 per cent in the third quarter of this year, from 7.6 per cent in 2011. Sub-sale transactions refer to transactions on units that are resold before they are completed.

Asked if further regulating foreign ownership here could help ensure a sustainable market better than the "ad hoc" measures so far implemented, Mr Khaw said that regulatory policies must be kept nimble.

This is because Singapore's property market faces many external factors that are beyond its control.

Mr Nicholas Mak, head of research and consultancy at SLP International, said the downward trend indicates that foreign buyers may not be to blame if property prices rise.

He added: "Going by the figures, the cooling measures are working, which begs the question: When are the measures going to be lifted?"

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