Tag Archives: Shanmugam

Home buyers must set realistic aspirations: Shanmugam

While the government will continue to help Singaporeans own homes and have put measures in place to protect first-time buyers from a hot housing market, “they must have a realistic pathway to achieving their aspirations”, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

During a dialogue session with over 2,000 property agents from ERA Realty on Wednesday (3 Jan), the minister recalled how a 28-year-old President’s Scholar had lamented to him about not being able to afford a private property in Katong, despite his many achievements.

“These are unrealistic aspirations for someone who’s only in his 20s,” said the minister. He noted that Singaporeans can afford to purchase property based on income levels, and have the option of buying private property, “but they need to start somewhere”, he said in reference to those eager to move up the property ladder.

Properties in Tanjong Katong are generally more expensive compared to other areas in the East, due to their prime location and accessibility to good amenities.

One of the more recent project launches in the neighbourhood is Amber Skye, a 109-unit condominium which was relaunched in March 2015 at an indicative price range of $1,680 psf to $2,500 psf.

Owning a condominium in Singapore is seen as a dream among many Singaporeans, as it is one of the 5Cs, with the other aspirations being a car, country club membership, cash and credit cards.

Despite this, Eugene Lim, Key Executive Officer at ERA Realty, has observed that fewer HDB dwellers are now jumping straight into buying private property.

Instead, he is now seeing a trend of a “fair amount of buyers upgrading to larger flat types since the second half of last year”. For instance, there are more four-room HDB flat owners shifting to five-room flats and executive flats.

“The trend of moving to larger private properties is constrained by the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR),” he said.

Introduced in June 2013, the TDSR limits the amount of a borrower’s gross monthly income that can be spent on debt repayments to 60 percent.

This has severely impacted private property sales in recent years, with transactions down to about 14,000 units in 2015 compared to around 38,000 in 2012 before the measure was introduced, revealed statistics from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

Govt won’t let property market crash: Shanmugam

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam during his dialogue session with ERA agents

The government has a “rough idea” on when to revise the property cooling measures, “but that doesn’t mean that we announce it”, said Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam.

Speaking to over 2,000 property agents at an ERA Realty conference on Wednesday (3 Feb), the minister said such a decision would be made by the National Development and Finance ministers when they assess the risks to be “less or manageable”.

He was responding to questions on when the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) would be removed.

He explained that the measures were put in place by the government to protect Singaporeans, and they have managed to avert the disaster of an overheated property market.

He noted that while some people are worried that the property market could go the other way, the government will ensure this doesn’t happen.

“We cannot have a healthy economy if the property market has crashed. So it’s not in anybody’s interest to see it crash.”

First introduced in December 2011, the ABSD was revised upwards in January 2013 to rein in Singapore’s escalating residential property prices.

Singaporeans are required to pay an ABSD of seven percent for a second property, and 10 percent for a third and subsequent property. However, foreigners are required to pay an ABSD of 15 percent for their first and subsequent property purchases.

Eugene Lim, Key Executive Officer at ERA Realty, believes that the government is watching the market closely and will tweak the property measures in due time.

“The question is when, and many analysts have tried to set a target of how much prices will come down before the government removes the measures, but I do not think that is the case. The government is concerned about Singaporeans over-leveraging themselves as there are many potential buyers waiting on the sidelines.

“Right now, we’re not sure how quickly prices will rebound if one of the measures is removed, and I think that is the litmus test for the government. They don’t want to remove something and cause prices to rebound, derailing the measures.

“They are looking at market stability rather than a target price. When the time comes, they will make the decision to reverse the measures, which will be a quick and easy process.”