Cooling measures: A bolt out of the blue

Sales will be slower in coming weeks, maybe even months

The announcement of the latest set of cooling measures for the residential market yesterday probably drew extreme emotions from many in Singapore – either cheers or despair, depending on which side you are on.

The emotions – accentuated by the fact that it came right out of the blue – are probably enough to induce a heart attack, some would say.

The new rules were specifically targeted at investment buys, while the announced plans to increase the supply of Executive Condominiums recognises the fact that the majority of potential upgraders have been largely left out of the current market run-up.

The announcement probably came as a shock to many but you could say the warning signs were there, the increased buying from foreigners and the ever shrinking apartment sizes being offered on the market.

However, it does not mean that all investment buys will be affected as the rules left just enough room for some investment buys by Permanent Residents (PRs) and Singapore citizens. PRs buying their first property and citizens their second property onwards are not affected.

Already people are asking me whether the new measures will induce a price correction? It really depends on the reaction of developers and how much of the current purchases are investment buys.

If the majority of buyers have been investors, the measures have the equivalent effect of a sudden price increase of 3 per cent or more on the market.

Sales will be a lot slower in the coming weeks or maybe even months. Investors may stay away while genuine buyers will take their time to commit. Depending on how long this phase drags on, some developers may panic and start offering bigger discounts.

However, if they hold their nerve, there is enough liquidity in the market to overcome this latest set of measures, provided of course, the expected economic slowdown next year does not hit us hard.

By Colin Tan – head of research and consultancy at Chesterton Suntec International.

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