The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been resisting calls from real estate developers to ease off cooling measures. The Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore has repeatedly called on the Government to ease some of the cooling measures, especially the additional buyer’s stamp duty. It said earlier this year that the ABSD on the high-end housing market “runs counter to the Government’s efforts to encourage foreign investment flows into the country”.
Housing prices sharply increased in the middle of 2009 as confidence returned to the market after the global financial crisis. Prices reached exorbitant levels in the third quarter of 2013, putting many housing options out of the reach of average Singaporeans. With the introduction of the cooling measures from MAS, the market has since fallen steadily but gradually since June 2013.
According to flash estimates released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) earlier this month, prices of private residential properties fell by 0.9 per cent in the second quarter, marking the seventh continuous quarter of price declines since the record high in 2013. However, prices have corrected less than 7 per cent from their peak, and hence, the cooling measures introduced in 2009 such as the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) and the seller’s stamp duty are unlikely to be rolled back.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said in October last year that “prices have some distance to go in achieving a meaningful correction”. Earlier that same month, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan had also said it was not the right time to wind down cooling measures and there is still room for prices to moderate.