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Too soon to call property market recovery despite optimistic sentiment: Redas

IN spite of the Singapore government tweaking some cooling measures in March, and the optimistic sentiment for local property launches, it is still too soon to indicate that the property market has finally turned positive, said Augustine Tan, president of the Real Estate Developers' Association (Redas), on Friday.

He acknowledged the slight tweaking of the government's cooling measures and the active participation by developers in Government Land Sales (GLS) tenders as reasons for the optimism in the market.

However, Mr Tan cited Singapore's weak macroeconomic fundamentals, anaemic global growth, geopolitical risks and rising US interest rates as reasons for his pessimism.

At a seminar organised by Redas, he said: "Our concern is if the prevailing 'bullish' appetite for residential land persists amid pending rising interest rates and weak employment prospects, demand will weaken over time and hasten the compounding effects of increasing supply and high vacancy."

According to Mr Tan, the rental market is not doing well. As at Q1 2017, the vacancy rate of completed private residential units improved marginally from 8.4 per cent to 8.1 per cent compared with the previous quarter.

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The commercial, retail and industrial sectors are also continuing to face lacklustre demand. In the same quarter, office prices and rentals - under pressure from a large supply - declined 4 per cent and 3.4 per cent respectively, and vacancy rates also rose to a high of 11.6 per cent islandwide, he said.

The islandwide retail sector vacancy rate also rose from 7.5 per cent to 7.7 per cent, and industrial sector prices and rentals fell 12.3 per cent and 6.1 per cent respectively in the same quarter.

Mr Tan said that against this backdrop, business and consumer confidence could be weakened, which would further dampen investment and consumption.

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