Government aiming for ‘soft landing’ in housing market, says Khaw

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Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan said on March 10 that he aims to achieve a “soft landing” in the housing market as “a market crash benefits no one”. He notes that 2014 marked the first full year of price falls — with HDB resale prices softening by 6%, and private property prices sinking by 4%. Analysts are expecting prices to fall further this year, he adds. According to Khaw, the government’s efforts in taming the housing market has seen results. HDB resale prices have eased, and are now just 37% above the trough in 2009. Over the same period, median household income has caught up, rising by 38%, he adds.
However, some Members of Parliament (MPs) cautioned that the government’s efforts to rein in housing prices might be overdone. “We should not go into overdrive, and unwittingly undermine the retirement plan of our seniors who look to their housing assets for monetisation,” agrees Khaw, adding that supply of new flats has therefore been substantially reduced.
Some MPs have suggested adjusting the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, especially for Singaporean buyers, when the government is ready to un- wind the property cooling measures. “We should not overkill,” says Khaw. “The property market is in transition and it is a time that calls for vigilance and nimbleness. We will be careful.”
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This article appeared in the City & Country of Issue 668 (Mar 16) of The Edge Singapore.

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