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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Singapore residential real estate booms anew

Singapore: Recession? What recession?

Despite Singapore's worst economic slump since independence, the residential property sector is in the midst of a new boom reminiscent of 2007, when the city-state was known as the world's hottest real estate market.

Greed and its twin brother fear are back in play as punters stake out condo launches days before sales open, with some offering blank cheques to pre-book flats, prompting the government to hint it may have to cool things down.

"Some of the practices and habits that you saw in the last property boom are beginning to come back, so I think we'll have to be careful," said Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan, whose portfolio includes housing.

"A little bit of speculation is inevitable in every market, but when it becomes excessive, then it is something that we should try to avoid," he said.

The minister's words of caution fell on deaf ears.

A 297-unit condo called Optima in the extreme east - well outside prime districts - sold out in within three days in early August after Mah's warning, fetching as much as S$2 million (S$1 = RM2.43) a unit.

The developer had to issue ballots "to address the needs of the genuine buyers" and disperse the huge crowd that turned up for the launch of the project, which will only be ready for occupancy in 2014, a spokesman said.

Within days, some units were already being advertised for resale in the secondary market.

An AFP reporter who recently walked into the sales office of another high-rise condo being built close to the Orchard Road shopping belt was treated like royalty by agents expecting to close deals within days, if not hours.

Bank officers were ready to process loans on the spot.

"Buy before prices go up further," an agent whispered in his ear, gesturing to a "sky garden" bisecting the scale model of a glass-clad, 45-storey tower.

Singapore's economic output is officially forecast to shrink by 4 to 6 per cent this year - less severe than earlier estimates, but still its worst economic performance on record - and office rents are still soft, reflecting weak business activity.

"It is too early to celebrate," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned over the weekend as he spelled out the country's economic prospects.

The property frenzy began in middle-class condo projects due to pent-up demand from families upgrading from public to private housing but scared off by the 2007 price spiral.

Their enthusiasm quickly spilled over to more exclusive developments.

Prices of luxury condos - the segment worst hit by the recession - are now inching towards peak levels achieved around mid-2007, according to an analysis by business weekly The Edge.

Foreign investors, including Asians looking for a secure place to park their money, are also back in the Singapore market.

Singaporeans enjoy one of the world's highest savings and home ownership rates, but most live in relatively spartan government-built flats, making owning condos an obsessive goal for families.



residential real estate said...

Good post I like the content I enjoy reading it. I'm looking forward for your more post regarding real estate. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Oh how soon people forget. Fear has given way to greed quickly again.

The Singapore property market is a casino...same as their stock market. With an exodus of wealthy expats, most of these units shall remain empty for months/years until prices come down to reflect the true propsects for this undeversified open economy.

Astute investors need only look at Singapore rental yields to see thier is no value. Flippers beware...its a game of hot potato and musical chairs combined. Dont be the one holding that potato when the music stops again.