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Singapore Home Sales Rebound as Buyers Move Past Latest Curbs

A view over high-end property in Singapore. (File photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

By Pooja Thakur

Private home sales in Singapore jumped 51 percent in September as developers marketed more projects post the hungry-ghost festival month, a period Chinese buyers consider inauspicious, and as buyers moved past the additional cooling measures imposed in July.

Developers in the city-state sold 932 units, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said in a statement Monday. That compares with 617 units in August, the data show. Total apartments launched for sale last month more than doubled to 1,169.

Singapore private home prices are still inching higher — albeit at the slowest pace in five quarters. An index tracking private residential prices increased 0.5 percent in the three months ended Sept. 30 versus a 3.4 percent advance in the June quarter, according to a flash estimate from the Urban Redevelopment Authority on Oct. 1.

Singapore took renewed steps in July to cool the island’s property market after home prices rose more than 7 percent in the first six months of the year. A rush of transactions was fueled by aggressive land bids from developers and so-called en-bloc transactions, which is where a group of owners band together to sell an entire apartment building.

Under the new rules, individuals taking out their first housing loan face stricter borrowing limits, meaning they have to stump up more cash upfront. For foreign purchasers of residential property, the additional buyer’s stamp duty was increased to 20 percent from 15 percent. For Singapore citizens, the extra charges only apply from their second home purchase.

Home prices on the island may rise as much as 10 percent by the end of 2019 and are on track to double by 2030 as faster income growth overpowers the recent property curbs and higher interest rates, Morgan Stanley said last week.

Unsold apartments stood at 13,656 in September compared to 12,961 units in August, the URA data show. Cumulative units launched but unsold were at 2,598 versus 2,204.

© 2018 Bloomberg L.P