Home prices in Singapore could fall by 20 percent between 2014 and 2016 as economic restructuring, tighter population policies and property measures continue to weigh on the real estate market, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BOAML) report in the media.
“We believe the fate of the market will depend very much on the direction of policy, particularly on restructuring, immigration and foreign workers, as well as the timing of the relaxation of strict property measures,” wrote economist Chua Hak Bin in the report.
He noted overly tight population policies will limit the number of a younger foreign workforce, and affect property prices. Maintaining the cooling measures would also “imply a greater negative impact from rising mortgage rates and persistence of housing distortions”.
On the restructuring front, Chua believes Singapore’s move to a productivity-driven growth model, which is a long-term process, has produced mixed results. Notably, it has reduced the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while employment growth and total job creation is expected to moderate this year.
“We do not see the government reversing course, but a pause may be in order…as companies, particularly SMEs, are having trouble adjusting to the speed of the tightening,” said Chua.
Any potential relaxation of property cooling measures is likely to happen only in H2 2015, as cyclical property measures such as stamp duties and loan-to-value limits may be relaxed when US interest rates and Singapore mortgage rates start rising.