Fewer foreign buyers of local property

PHOTO: Fewer foreign buyers of local property

The number of foreign buyers of local property fell to 330 in the third quarter of this year and comprised 7 per cent of transactions, said National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Tuesday.

This is a sharp drop from the 1,400 per quarter - 17 per cent of transactions - that foreign buyers accounted for in 2011, he told Parliament.

In December of that year, the Government levied a 10 per cent additional buyer's stamp duty on foreign buyers of property.

Replying to a question from Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC), Mr Khaw also revealed that sub-sales transactions - a measure of the amount of property speculation in the market - have dropped from comprising 7.6 per cent of all private housing transactions in 2011 to 4.6 per cent in the third quarter of this year.

In absolute numbers, the number of sub-sales transactions has fallen from 670 per quarter in 2011, to 181 in the third quarter of this year.

Several rounds of cooling measures since 2010, such as increased stamp duties and borrowing limits, have also aggressively targeted speculation.

Calling the trends "encouraging", Mr Khaw said that the Government will not hesitate to act further when necessary.

Responding to Mr de Souza's supplementary question on whether further ownership restrictions on foreigners here could be preferable to the "ad hoc" bag of cooling measures thus far, Mr Khaw said that Singapore's property market is subject to many external factors beyond the Government's control.

Regulatory policies must, hence, stay nimble, he added.

He pointed out that the Australian system, which Mr de Souza used as an example of a property market with restrictions on foreign ownership of property, is also struggling with a property bubble.

"Managing the property market is both an art and a science and also requires a heavy dose of good luck," the minister said, adding that he is seeing more light at the end of the tunnel.

"As you can see, I'm now more relaxed, my hair has even turned black," he quipped to the House.

rchang@sph.com.sg


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