Singapore May Relax Some Curbs This Year, City Developments Says

  • Regulators may respond to home price declines since peak
  • Chairman Kwek says low-end home prices may decline more

The longest losing streak in Singapore residential prices in 17 years may prompt the government to take its foot off the brakes and relax some property curbs this year, the city-state’s second-biggest developer said.

Kwek Leng Beng, the billionaire executive chairman of City Developments Ltd., which built luxury condominiums such as the St. Regis Residences near the Orchard Road shopping belt, said mid-income and low-end housing could see further price declines and the high-end market remains subdued. 

“They will press the button at the right time although developers are hoping they will do it sooner than later,” Kwek said after the company’s earnings briefing Thursday. “I think they will do something this year, that’s my speculation, as there are a lot of mid- and low-end homes coming up. I suspect it will be the abolishing of the buyer’s stamp duties.”

Singapore has been successful in cooling its property market with a slew of measures to tame record prices set in 2013. They have included a cap on debt repayment costs at 60 percent of a borrower’s monthly income, higher stamp duties on home purchases and an increase in real estate taxes.

Home values have dropped 8.4 percent from the peak in 2013 and sales have since declined to about half the level that year.

The government needs to calibrate cooling measures imposed on Singapore’s property market to engineer a soft landing, the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore President Augustine Tan said this month.

City Developments posted a 6.7 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit to S$410.5 million ($293 million) in the three months ended Dec. 31. The developer is trying to mitigate risks in Singapore by expanding overseas to markets such as China, Japan and U.K.

The company is expanding its fund-management platform and has completed two deals valued at S$2.6 billion since December 2014. It is on target to grow fund assets under management to S$5 billion by 2018.

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