Adjust property curbs to reflect how IT has changed market

In the Sept 12 report ("Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty 'can be safely removed'"), I did not call for the complete removal of stability measures ("Make some property curbs permanent" by Mr Chua Soo Chew; Thursday).

I, for one, am a strong advocate of curbing speculation and hot money from overseas by applying an even tougher Seller's Stamp Duty than the one that is currently in place.

Instead, what was proposed in the Sept 12 report was to adjust the stability measures to reflect how information technology has changed the market since the cooling measures were implemented.

If the goal of housing policy is to foster hard work, upward mobility and a better quality of living,

then there should be a balance between free-market forces that create economic growth and prosperity, and government policy that facilitates housing affordability.

Today, information technology is helping property markets adopt the type of efficiencies common to equity markets.

Market participants, including policymakers, can segment the market by real-time market value, rental yield, capital appreciation, and liquidity at the national, district, HDB town, project and unit levels.

These real-time capabilities, which were not fully available when the Total Debt Servicing Ratio was implemented in 2013, now allow policy analysts to target specific income groups and locations with customised affordability initiatives that negate the need for one-size-fits-all policies like the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty.

The Government, real estate industry and technology companies have diligently worked to make the property market more transparent.

It would be a shame if market stability measures - permanent or temporary - did not leverage these new capabilities to foster a more efficient market that balances economic prosperity with home affordability.

Sam Baker

Co-founder and Chief Executive

Singapore Real Estate Exchange

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2015, with the headline 'Adjust property curbs to reflect how IT has changed market'. Print Edition | Subscribe