Still `Premature' to Lift Singapore Housing Curbs as Prices Fall

The longest-losing streak in Singapore home prices in almost two decades isn’t enough to prompt the government to relax its property measures.

Any easing of the curbs will be "premature," Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat said in his first budget speech on Thursday, adding that the government “will monitor property market developments closely.”

Heng joins National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who said last month it’s too early to lift any of the cooling measures, on concern the easing would result in a market rebound.

Singapore home prices have dropped for nine quarters, the longest stretch of declines in 17 years, following curbs that started in 2009 to cool demand from foreign buyers amid low interest rates. Even as housing values fall, they’re still almost 50 percent higher than the level reached during the 2008-2009 global financial crisis.

Singapore’s measures include a cap on debt repayment costs at 60 percent of a borrower’s monthly income and higher stamp duties on home purchases.

The index tracking shares of Singapore developers declined 0.8 percent at the close in the city-state, bringing the drop since the start of the year to 2 percent. The Bloomberg Asia Pacific Real Estate Index has lost 8.1 percent so far in 2016.

Singapore was ranked the second-most expensive city to buy a luxury home in Asia after Hong Kong, according to Knight Frank LLP’s latest wealth report.

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