Singapore November Home Sales Decline to Lowest in 11 Months

Singapore home sales fell 44 percent in November from October, the lowest in 11 months, as developers slowed project sales ahead of the holiday season.

Home sales last month slid to 1,087 units from 1,948 units in October, according to data released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority today. Singapore home prices reached a record high in the third quarter amid low interest rates, raising concerns of a housing bubble.

“November and December are traditionally slow months because of the holiday season,” David Neubronner, head of Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s Singapore residential business, said in a phone interview today. “Developers have slowed sales and we haven’t seen many launches.”

The property market may get “bubbly” even with slow growth and the government won’t allow prices to outstrip gains in incomes, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Oct. 9. The Monetary Authority of Singapore told banks on Oct. 5 to restrict home-loan maturities “to curb continued upward pressure on residential property prices,” in its latest attempt to avert a housing bubble.

November home sales declined 36 percent from a year earlier, according to data from the government agency. Private home sales next year may drop to 16,000 units from 22,000 units this year, Neubronner said last month.

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Singapore is seeking to sell land to add as many as 14,000 new homes in the first half of 2013 as the government moves to prevent excessive gains in home prices. The government will sell 12 private residential sites in the first half that could yield 6,900 apartments, and may sell a further 19 sites where developers could build 7,100 units, the Ministry of National Development said in a statement on Dec. 14.

Singapore has been attempting to rein in prices since 2009, when the government barred interest-only loans for some housing projects and stopped allowing developers to absorb interest payments for apartments still being built.

The government in December last year imposed an additional stamp duty on foreigners and corporations buying property, and additional levies on permanent residents buying a second home and citizens purchasing a third residential property.

Home sales reached 17,900 units in the first nine months this year, according to government data. Neubronner estimates about 20 percent were so-called shoebox units, or homes smaller than 50 square meters (538 square feet) in size.

The government in September said it plans to cap the number of shoebox apartments that can be developed in suburban projects as it seeks to curb the increasing trend of smaller homes.

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