Fewer foreign, corporate property buyers but prices remain high

The proportion of foreign and company private home buyers has fallen from 20 per cent in 2011 to 7 per cent in the first half of 2012.

The National Development Ministry said this could be attributed to earlier rounds of cooling measures and the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty (ABSD) imposed in December.

Still, experts pointed out that property prices and volumes remain at record levels.

Developers may have sold a third less new homes in May compared to April, but analysts said developers sold 40 to 50 per cent more homes in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.

Crowding the property market are local buyers who are seeking safe havens from volatile markets and enjoy low borrowing rates to finance a property.

“In terms of the transaction volumes of new sales, especially on a dollar per square foot level, we are still seeing so many new records,” IPA CEO Ku Swee Yong said. “And they are mainly transactions done by Singapore families, and many of these Singapore family investors are with HDB addresses.”

Analysts say companies may not return to buying properties because of the stamp duties imposed, because they are mainly motivated by short-term gains.

Foreigners living outside of Singapore, however, will likely return to the property market as they are attracted to its stability in a world troubled with economic chaos and natural disasters.

Colin Tan, research head of Suntec Chesterton International, said: “Foreigners buy usually not for speculation. It’s for long-term buying, for their children, for maybe their schooling here, and a whole host of reasons. So I expect foreign demand to come eventually.”

So far in 2012, private residential property prices have moved marginally.

Private home prices rose 0.3 per cent in the first half of this year, compared to the 6 per cent jump for the whole of 2011.

Analysts say this is due to the combination of the Sellers Stamp Duty imposing the maximum of 16 per cent of market value or selling price of a property, whichever is higher, and the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duty, causing residential property prices to be at a standstill.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 10 Jul 2012

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