Keep property curbs for a healthy economy

As a young person, I am not in favour of calls to do away with real estate curbs ("'Property cooling measures to stay'"; last Friday, and "Is it time to lift property curbs?"; Wednesday).

The middle-aged segment of the population is one group that appears to seek an endless increase in property prices. This is a selfish attitude because over time, young people, with relatively low incomes, are simply priced out of the property market.

Young people are increasingly reliant on their families for financial support when purchasing property, whether this means not paying rent when living with their families or in terms of direct financial support.

Ever-increasing property prices reduce social mobility by making a child's financial status far too dependent on his parents' wealth.

Even with current curbs, prices are still largely unaffordable.

As property prices rise, they tend to encourage more people to enter the real estate market as speculators and/or agents.

However, this is unhealthy for the economy.

A strong real estate market does little but increase inflation. It cannot be exported, and cannot be consumed by the majority of the population, nor does it save lives, further knowledge, improve communications, increase productivity or increase overall happiness. What it does do is concentrate wealth in fewer and fewer people's hands. It also reduces social mobility, and encourages speculative behaviour and irresponsible lending.

Real estate companies may wish for the cooling measures to be removed because they stand to benefit from it. But from a national perspective, why should we encourage unproductive and speculative behaviour?

Homes should first provide shelter and then, if possible, a source of passive income for retirement. They should not be a means for people to get rich easily.

Sum Siew Kee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2015, with the headline 'Keep property curbs for a healthy economy'. Print Edition | Subscribe