Be prudent and not stoke exuberance in property market, Indranee urges developers and house hunters

The property market has defied the coronavirus-induced recession. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Second Minister for National Development Indranee Rajah urged developers to remain prudent in their land bidding and not overextend themselves financially.

On their part, prospective home buyers should be mindful of their ability to service mortgage obligations given the uncertain economic conditions and protracted recovery in the Singapore labour market, before making the long-term financial commitment, she said.

Said Ms Indranee: "We all have a part to play by continuing to be professional, responsible and prudent, and not stoke exuberant sentiments in the property market. In the long run, a stable property market will benefit all stakeholders."

Her comments at the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas) Spring Festival on Tuesday afternoon (Feb 23) came amid intensifying talk of a new round of property cooling measures with several ministers recently noting that the Government is monitoring the property market very closely.

The property market has defied the coronavirus-induced recession, with prices of non-landed condominiums and private apartments rising 2.5 per cent last year while Housing Board resale prices jumped 5 per cent - the steepest growth since 2012.

But the recovery in global economic activity is expected to be uneven, uncertain and drawn out, while the pandemic continues to evolve with many countries battling recurrent waves of infection, as well as new, more infectious variants of the virus, the minister noted.

Ms Indranee, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Finance, also said that accelerating the transformation of Singapore's built environment sector to boost productivity is key to tackling challenges including climate change.

"To enhance coordination, we can use more digital tools to bring the entire building lifecycle and its various parties covering design, construction and facilities management from end to end," she said.

"This will allow us to build and maintain our city more sustainably," she said.

Developers play an important role in the overall transformation process, Ms Indranee said.

The launch of the new growth and transformation scheme for the built environment sector will require developers to work closely with consultants, contractors and suppliers to level up as an ecosystem or value chain, said the minister.

"We encourage you to continue your research and innovation efforts, promote the adoption of new processes, technology and designs, and collaborate with other members in the sector," she said.

Redas president Chia Ngiang Hong said the association supports Singapore's Green Plan and that many big local developers are "firm believers of the green agenda and have integrated sustainability into their business operations when they design, build and manage buildings".

"Many Redas members are also guided by robust corporate environmental sustainability (ESG) principles and adopting energy efficient systems and good waste management infrastructure," he added.

Redas reiterated its commitment to support investment in green research and development/innovation and incentivise mass adoption by developers and their value chain stakeholders.

"As such solutions are capital intensive and need time to crystallise, the Government's continued assistance to the built environment... and understanding and consideration to adjust policies if necessary, to maintain a stable and sustainable property market in the long term is crucial," Mr Chia said.

"As developers, we remain concerned about the global economy which remains fragile and hostage to downside risks.

"During our recent engagement session with various ministers, we are encouraged by their understanding of the immediate issues surrounding the construction industry and their attendant high business costs and tight timeline."

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