Govt to step up efforts to raise awareness of foreign property investment risks

SINGAPORE — The Government will ramp up its efforts to spread awareness on the risks involved in buying overseas property, said Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong today (May 11).

Speaking in his capacity as a member of the board of directors of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), Mr Wong said that this was in light of concerns of an oversupply in the Malaysian private property market.

Citing latest data from Malaysia’s National Property Information Centre, Mr Wong said that there are currently close to 336,000 new private residential units in the pipeline in Johor — more than the total number of private homes in Singapore. He added that this does not include another 1,400 hectares of reclaimed land near the Tuas second link, which will be developed from 2020 onwards.

“Given these indications, there are many reports indicating that buyers are becoming more cautious. Official Malaysian data suggest Johor housing market is already slowing down … Singaporean buyers too, are becoming wary. According to a survey of real estate agencies, the number of Malaysian properties bought through these agencies dropped from 2,609 in 2013 to 838 in 2014,” Mr Wong said.

Mr Wong said this in response to Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah’s question on whether the Government knows how many Singaporeans have bought and invested in properties in Iskandar Malaysia.

Last week, the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) said it has received several complaints from consumers who bought properties overseas, and called for the authorities to review how foreign property developers disclose information to buyers, particularly in advertisements. The Advertising Standards Authority has said that by the end of the year, it will implement new guidelines for advertisements pertaining to investments in financial instruments and property, including foreign properties.