Ease stamp duties on high-end properties: REDAS

SINGAPORE: In its latest call for the Government to scale back on property cooling measures, the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (REDAS) took aim at the imposition of the Additional Buyers’ Stamp Duties (ABSD) on the high-end real estate market.

Speaking at its Lunar New Year celebration lunch held at Shangri-La Hotel on Friday (Feb 27), REDAS President Augustine Tan said the high-end market is “not a segment the Government needs to safeguard”.

“Not many Singaporeans are buying into this segment, and prices have indeed come down substantially. The imposition of ABSD on this segment runs counter to the Government’s efforts to encourage foreign investment flows into the country, to activate the economy, grow investments and create jobs for Singaporeans,” said Mr Tan.

“Some high net worth foreign investors, who create jobs for Singaporeans and who have many choices of where they want to be from the world over, now feel that they are not welcome in Singapore,” he added.

Turning to vacancy rates, Mr Tan said the estimated supply of more than 75,000 completed private residential homes from 2015 to 2019 will bring the rate to a “new record high”. This will lead to a further slip in home rentals and prices, he said, impacting homeowners and investors.

“Capital is tied up as owners and landlords are unable to sell or rent their properties which will lead to unproductive use of resources. Some may be forced to sell their properties,” said Mr Tan. “This is a scenario that the Government, developers and asset owners, including home owners, would not wish to see happen.”

Official figures put the vacancy rate of completed private residential units, excluding Executive Condominiums, in the last quarter of 2014 at 7.8 per cent, up from 7.1 per cent in the third quarter.

Mr Tan said there is room for greater collaboration among various stakeholders in the property market, and especially between the Government and the private sector.

“The Government, working on its own, may not be able to manage precisely the rate of decline in prices in order to arrive at a level that is deemed to be desirable for a stable property market,” he said. “There must be room for a public-private sector collaborative effort in understanding.”

For 2015, the association plans to work with its members to boost construction productivity, and develop programmes to promote a sustainable environment.