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Singapore property market facing 'many challenges': Redas president

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The recent cooling measures have "indeed weakened market sentiments and demand" by raising the barriers for entry for "all categories of buyers", said Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas) president Augustine Tan at the group's annual mid-autumn festival lunch on Wednesday.

THE recent cooling measures have "indeed weakened market sentiments and demand" by raising the barriers for entry for "all categories of buyers", said Real Estate Developers' Association of Singapore (Redas) president Augustine Tan at the group's annual mid-autumn festival lunch on Wednesday.

Nearly 46,000 private residential units could be available for sale between 2019 and 2020, which would take around five years to be fully absorbed, according to him. 

Mr Tan pointed out that with a market "expected to be sedate" after the new property curbs, analysts expect developer sales for 2018 to drop to 8,500 to 9,500 units, 15 to 20 per cent down from last year.

He noted other "dark clouds" such as heightened trade tensions and rising interest rates.

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"On the property front, the current market condition presents many challenges," he added, though post-cooling measures, demand for developments in good locations and close to MRT stations remained "resilient" and continued to attract interest from first-time homebuyers and owners of en bloc developments.

He said that given the "special place" real estate has in the hearts of Singaporeans as well as investors, it is important for the government in its policy review to "look at the aggregate impact of the various policies on the property market".  

Minister for Social and Family Development (MSF) and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, the annual lunch's guest of honour, said that the cooling measures were taken in order to "keep prices in line with economic fundamentals", keeping in mind the large supply of properties coming on-stream as well as rising interest rates.   

Therefore, the government "acted earlier" with cooling measures to ensure a stable property market, he added.

He also urged corporates to play a role in helping the needy in his speech. "As social needs grow in complexity, we need to look ahead and galvanise a whole-of-society approach to support and uplift individuals and families who may need more help," he said.

One way is through the Community and Sports Facilities Scheme (CSFS), introduced in 2003, which gives participating developers a bonus gross floor area (GFA) for community and sports uses over and above the maximum GFA permissible under the master plan for the commercial developments. Eight developers provide 145,000 sq ft to house social service organisations.

The largest of these CSFS sites is CapitaLand’s Bishan Junction 8 with almost 54,000 sq ft.

Mr Lee also said that corporates can establish and run programmes at white spaces at social service hubs that the MSF will be setting up in some rental housing precincts, and allow staff to volunteer at the hub in proximity to their office to provide services such as enrichment and reading programmes.

"This hub as a whole comprising a range of organisations from governmental to charitable to corporate will proactively reach out to the residents... and work with them, journey with them," he added.

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