Govt should rein in soaring private property prices

In land-scarce Singapore, government action is required to ensure that residential properties, both public and private, should first and foremost be homes for Singaporean owner-occupiers (Apartments should be homes, not investments, by Mr Toh Cheng Seong; May 13).

Leaving the private property market purely to market forces would widen social inequality in Singapore and leave future generations at a disadvantage.

The collective sale frenzy has already distorted the property market, resulting in a sharp spike of 3.9 per cent in property prices in the first quarter from the previous quarter, the steepest in eight years.

Last month's year-on-year price increases range from a worrying 7.3 per cent in the outside central region to a dizzying 12.6 per cent in the city fringes.

From the introduction of the first property cooling measure in 2009 until the last cooling measure introducing the total debt servicing ratio in 2013, it took four years of hard work by the Government to finally stabilise the property market. However, this good work is now becoming undone in the space of a year.

The Government has expressed the need to ensure a sustainable, stable property market. However, it has not taken any action on what is clearly an unsustainable rise in private property prices.

Given the time taken for measures to have an impact, the Government should take immediate action to rein in the soaring prices.

These could include setting a minimum size on new apartments, increasing government land sales, raising additional buyer's stamp duty rates for foreign purchasers and investors, introducing a vacancy tax on properties left vacant for more than six months and raising property taxes on non-owner-occupied property.

Jeremy Teo Chin Ghee (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 14, 2018, with the headline 'Govt should rein in soaring private property prices'. Print Edition | Subscribe