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Singapore property buyers increasingly taking 'wait-and-see' approach: poll

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Singaporeans are increasingly adopting a "wait-and-see" approach when it comes to buying properties, according to findings from a PropertyGuru survey released on Wednesday.

SINGAPOREANS are increasingly adopting a "wait-and-see" approach when it comes to buying properties, according to findings from a PropertyGuru survey released on Wednesday.

This cautious mentality was seen in its property purchase intent index – which measures the likelihood of respondents buying a Singapore property in the next six months. The index fell to an all time low in the first half of 2019 to 38, from 41 in the second half of 2018.

The real estate portal surveyed 794 people in Singapore for its half-yearly consumer sentiment survey.

Slightly more than half or 51 per cent of respondents felt the Singapore economy was not performing well, up from 37 per cent in its H2 2018 poll. The latest survey’s overall sentiment index also fell five points to 40 in the first half of the year – indicating concerns over affordability, overall real estate climate, and more.

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When it comes to property prices, eight in 10 of those polled say private homes in Singapore are still too expensive, despite the July 2018 cooling measures.

More than half or 58 per cent also want the government to step in and regulate prices of newly launched properties by developers, up from 49 per cent in the second half of 2018.

When it comes to rents, a majority of those polled see rents falling across the board for HDB, condominium and landed property markets. For the biggest condo rental market, over one-third or 36 per cent of respondents expect rents to drop.

Tan Tee Khoon, PropertyGuru Singapore country manager, said competition among landlords is already beginning to be felt, with over 25 condo projects attaining temporary occupation permits this year. The bulk of them are located in the outlying areas of Singapore or outside of central region.

The survey also found a mismatch in landlord and renter expectations regarding the size of homes for lease. While 53 per cent of investors and 59 per cent of landlords feel that units shrinking, 70 per cent of renters think so.

Said Mr Tan: "This finding is a sobering discovery for property investors, who would do well to focus on liveability and meeting the spatial comfort of prospective tenants rather than just looking at the quantum of their purchase when making a property investment."

For example, renters may in the end prefer a 500 square foot (sq ft) one-bedroom over a 400 sq ft unit.