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MAS keeping close watch on property market, says Menon

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"It's too early to tell what the implications from the last round of tightening measures are," Ravi Menon, managing director at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said in an interview on Tuesday.

[SINGAPORE] Singapore's central bank is keeping a close eye on the property market after the city-state took a "decisive set of measures" three months ago to cool things down.

"It's too early to tell what the implications from the last round of tightening measures are," Ravi Menon, managing director at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said in an interview on Tuesday. "It will take at least two to three quarters for the full implications to be understood. So we are watching that closely."

Singapore's surging property market had been out of sync amid slowing economic growth and a rising interest rate environment, and that was not sustainable, Mr Menon said. Housing prices on the Southeast Asian island jumped the most since 2010 before the government stepped in with tighter curbs in July. Singapore is the sixth-most expensive city in the world, according to an annual Bloomberg global city housing affordability index.

"The property market, before we implemented the cooling measures, was pretty hot," said Mr Menon. "This was a wrong time to see a renewed property bubble. Not that there was a bubble, but we wanted to preempt that."

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The extra measures appear to be taking effect, with home prices growing at the slowest pace in five quarters in the three months through September, while bulk sales of condominium buildings have collapsed. Singapore has one of the world's highest rates of home ownership at about 90 per cent and is also home to many of the region's millionaires.

"The property market always warrants close watching, whichever direction it is inching towards," Mr Menon said. The latest property curbs "were taken at a time when we already knew about the risks facing the economy. We also knew and expected that growth was going to moderate gently into the second half of this year. So all those were taken into account."

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