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New private home sales hit record high

First-time buyers, discounts push figure to 2,793 units last month

16 April 2013: NEW private home sales surged to an all-time high last month, boosted by discounts dangled by developers and first-timers entering the market.

A total of 2,793 units were sold last month, nearly four times February’s number, as a string of new launches debuted strongly.

This is the highest monthly new sales volume since the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) began publishing monthly data in 2007. It narrowly beats the previous record of 2,772 in July 2009.

new private homes sales

But analysts said the momentum may not continue into this month as the effects of a seventh round of cooling measures, which took effect in January, continue to filter through the market.

DWG senior manager Lee Sze Teck said the strong sales from new private home last month suggested strong demand from first-time buyers given that the cooling measures had curbed some investment demand.

Including executive condominiums, a hybrid of public and private housing, the number of private homes sold last month was 3,072. This is the second-highest on record, close behind the 3,142 units sold in February last year.

The 3,489 units launched for sale last month was also a record. A whopping 17 new residential projects launched last month.

Almost three-quarters of March’s new sales were from new launches that month. Nearly 65 per cent were in suburban areas.

Buyers purchased units at projects near MRT stations such as D’Nest, Bartley Ridge, Urban Vista and Sennett Residence, the URA data showed. The top-seller was 912-unit D’Nest in Pasir Ris, with 699 units sold at a median price of $963 per sq ft out of 800 units launched. Property agent Regine Ang said her clients who bought units at D’Nest last month cited its attractive price and proximity to the MRT station.

Overall, 5,533 units of new private homes were sold from January to March, which was about 20 per cent higher than in the fourth quarter of last year. There were 5,564 units launched.

The strong March numbers made up for February’s muted sales volume of 712 new sales owing to the Chinese New Year lull.

“By keeping new supply off the market in February, developers have benefited from a strong demand rebound in March as well as the resultant positive impact on the market,” said Jones Lang LaSalle research director Ong Teck Hui. “Notwithstanding the latest measures, underlying demand remains healthy.”

Still, analysts said this month was unlikely to see a similar surge in new sales. Most pent-up demand would have been “satisfied by the bumper crop of new launches in March”, said Colliers International research and advisory director Chia Siew Chuin.

New property cooling measures – the latest: 12 Jan 2013

New Property cooling measures

The new property cooling measures in Singapore which are set to take effect 12 Jan 2013. The government’s aim is to control on-going speculation in the property market.

This is the seventh and most extensive round of  new property cooling measures / tightening measures and include higher buyer stamp duty, rules on permanent residents (PRs) buying their first home and size restrictions on executive condominium (EC) units. Most notably, curbs will also be introduced into the industrial sector.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam said: “The reality we face is that interest rates are extraordinarily low, globally and in Singapore, and continue to add fuel to our property market. We have to take this further round of measures now, to check recent market trends and avoid a more serious correction in prices further down the road.”

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan added: “A large supply of public and private housing – up to 200,000 units in total – will be completed in the coming years. Coupled with the new measures, we will be better placed to ensure that housing remains affordable to Singaporeans.”

Below is the full list of measures released in a joint statement by the government:

New Property Cooling Measures Applicable to all Residential Property

The following measures will take effect on 12 January 2013:

a) Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates will be:

i) Raised between five and seven percentage points across the board.

ii) Imposed on Permanent Residents (PRs) purchasing their first residential property and on Singaporeans purchasing their second residential property.

Citizenship 1st Purchase ABSD 2nd Purchase ABSD 3rd & subsequent Purchase ABSD
Singapore Citizens Existing: N/A

Revised: N/A

Existing: N/A

Revised: 7%

Existing: 3%

Revised: 10%

Permanent Residents Existing: N/A

Revised: 5%

Existing: 3%

Revised: 10%

Existing: 3%

Revised: 10%

Foreigners & non-individuals Existing: 10%

Revised: 15%

Existing: 10%

Revised: 15%

Existing: 10%

Revised: 15%

b) Loan-to-Value limits on housing loans granted by financial institutions will be tightened for individuals who already have at least one outstanding loan, as well as to non-individuals such as companies. (refer to Chart A)

c) Besides tighter Loan-to-Value limits, the minimum cash down payment for individuals applying for a second or subsequent housing loan will also be raised from 10% to 25%. (refer to Chart A)


The new property cooling measures listed above will not impact most Singaporeans buying their first home. Some concessions will also be extended to selected groups of buyers, such as married couples with at least one Singaporean spouse who are purchasing their second property and will sell their first residential property.

These new ABSDs and loan rules are significant, but they are temporary. These new property cooling measures are being imposed to cool the market now, and will be reviewed in future depending on market conditions.

New Property Cooling Measures Specific to Public Housing

The Government is also introducing new property cooling measures to further moderate the demand for HDB flats, instil greater financial prudence among buyers, and require owner occupation by PR buyers. The following new property cooling measures will take effect on 12 January 2013:

a) Tighter eligibility for loans to buy HDB flats:

i) MAS will cap the Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) for housing loans granted by financial institutions at 30% of a borrower’s gross monthly income.

ii) For loans granted by HDB, the cap on the MSR will be lowered from 40% to 35%.

b) PRs who own a HDB flat will be disallowed from subletting their whole flat.

c) PRs who own a HDB flat must sell their flat within six months of purchasing a private residential property in Singapore.

An additional property cooling measure will take effect on 1 July 2013 to tighten the terms for granting HDB loans and the use of CPF funds for the purchase of HDB flats with remaining leases of less than 60 years.

New Property Cooling Measures for Executive Condominium Developments

The Government will introduce new property cooling measures specific to new EC developments to ensure that ECs continue to serve as an affordable housing option for middle-income Singaporean families.

The following new property cooling measures will take effect on 12 January 2013:

a) The maximum strata floor area of new EC units will be capped at 160 square metres.

b) Sales of new dual-key EC units will be restricted to multi-generational families only.

c) Developers of future EC sale sites from the Government Land Sales programme will only be allowed to launch units for sale 15 months from the date of award of the sites or after the physical completion of foundation works, whichever is earlier.

d) Private enclosed spaces and private roof terraces will be treated as gross floor area (GFA). The GFA of such spaces in non-landed residential developments, including ECs, will be counted as part of the ‘bonus’ GFA of a residential development and subject to payment of charges. This is in line with the treatment of balconies under URA’s current guidelines. Details of this measure are at

New Property Cooling Measure for the Industrial Property Market: Seller’s Stamp Duty

Prices of industrial properties have doubled over the last three years, outpacing the increase in rentals. In addition, there has been increasing speculation in industrial properties: in 2011 and the first eleven months of 2012, about 15% and 18% respectively of all transactions of multiple-user factory space were resale transactions carried out within three years of purchase. This is significantly higher than the average of about 10% from 2006 to 2010.

The Government is introducing Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) on industrial property to discourage short-term speculative activity which could distort the underlying prices of industrial properties and raise costs for businesses.

The following SSD rates will be imposed on industrial properties and land bought and sold within three years of the date of purchase:

a) SSD at 15% if the property is sold in the first year of purchase, i.e. the property is held for one year or less from the date of purchase.

b) SSD at 10% if the property is sold in the second year of purchase, i.e. the property is held for more than one year and up to two years from the date of purchase.

c) SSD at 5% if the property is sold in the third year of purchase, i.e. the property is held for more than two years and up to three years from the date of purchase.

These SSDs will apply for industrial properties and land bought on or after 12 January 2013.


Home buyers borrowing less with tougher rules


Home buyers are borrowing less as tougher lending guidelines contained in property cooling measures start to bite.

Mortgages with a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of more than 80 per cent comprised 4.7 per cent of all  in the third quarter, down from 4.9 per cent in the same period last year.

This is the lowest since 2004 and is a sharp drop from the peak of 17 per cent in the third quarter of 2009, said the Monetary Authority of Singapore yesterday.

An LTV ratio of 80 means the buyer has borrowed 80 per cent of the home’s sale price.

The MAS’ Financial Stability Review noted yesterday that housing loan quality remains robust with the proportion of mortgages with negative equity – where the loan exceeds the property’s value – remaining negligible.

More than 70 per cent of mortgages are for owner-occupied homes, which tend to have a lower risk profile while non-performing loan (NPL) ratios for property-related lending have stayed low. However, these trends warrant close monitoring as NPLs are a key indicator of economic conditions and how borrowers are handling their repayment obligations, the MAS noted.

“Banks should be mindful… if the economic outlook worsens, especially if interest rates were to rise,” it said, warning that the sector “could face a pronounced increase in NPL ratios”.

But it is evident that the cooling measures have dampened the market with growth in property-related loans slowing.

Associate Professor Sing Tien Foo of the National University of Singapore’s department of real estate noted that home prices would have to plunge by more than 55 per cent for loans to get into negative equity.

“The slight increase, however, could be due to the high volume of new loans taken in the past year which tend to have higher LTV ratios,” he added.

“This could be due to the run up in prices which require buyers to take larger loans and the fact that interest rates remain low.”