Property market faces challenges: Redas chief

Developer sales likely to fall after curbs, he says, citing other factors like trade tensions

The property sector has taken a hit from the latest cooling measures with demand down and buyers of all kinds facing more challenging barriers to get into the market, said an industry leader yesterday.

Mr Augustine Tan, president of the Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas), told the group's annual Mid-Autumn Festival lunch that with the market "expected to be sedate" after the new property curbs, analysts expect developer sales for this year to drop 15 to 20 per cent to 8,500 to 9,500 units from last year's levels.

He noted other "dark clouds" such as heightened trade tensions and rising interest rates.

"On the property front, the current market condition presents many challenges," he said, although he pointed out that demand for developments in good locations and close to MRT stations remained "resilient" and continued to attract interest from first-time buyers and owners of collective sale developments.

Mr Tan urged the Government's policy review to "look at the aggregate impact of the various policies on the property market".

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for National Development, told the event that the cooling measures were taken to "keep prices in line with economic fundamentals", given the large supply of properties coming on-stream as well as rising interest rates.

He added that the Government "acted earlier" with cooling measures to ensure a stable property market.

Mr Lee also urged corporates to play a role in helping the needy: "As social needs grow in complexity, we need to look ahead and galvanise a whole-of-society approach to support and uplift individuals and families who may need more help."

One way is through the Community and Sports Facilities Scheme (CSFS), introduced in 2003, which gives participating developers a bonus gross floor area (GFA) for community and sports uses over and above the maximum GFA permissible under the master plan for the commercial developments. Eight developers provide 145,000 sq ft to house social service organisations.

The largest of these CSFS sites is CapitaLand's Bishan Junction 8 with almost 54,000 sq ft.

Mr Lee added that corporates can establish and run programmes at white spaces at social service hubs that the Ministry of Social and Family Development will be setting up in some rental housing precincts, and allow staff to volunteer at the hub in proximity to their office to provide services such as enrichment and reading programmes.

"This hub as a whole, comprising a range of organisations from governmental to charitable to corporate, will proactively reach out to the residents... and work with them, journey with them," he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2018, with the headline 'Property market faces challenges: Redas chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe