Government can’t adopt ‘hands-off’ approach to managing property market: Lawrence Wong

The government has concluded that it cannot take a “hands-off” approach to managing Singapore’s property market and allow asset bubbles to develop. “This is not what a responsible government would do,” says Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance.
“Our aim is not to bring prices down, but to steady the cycle and to stabilise the market. [We want] to have a steady and sustained property market, moving broadly in line with income growth,” he reiterates. “This is a shift from the past where we tended to take a more laissez-faire approach [to the property market].”
Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development, says: “Investors have to consider what it means to buy property and the implications for property values.” (Pictures: NUS IREUS)
The property market has shown that left to itself, it tends to go through large price swings. This harms genuine homebuyers and if corrective actions are not taken to prevent an asset bubble from forming, the costs would eventually be larger and more painful for everyone, the minister says.
“Investors have to consider what it means to buy property and the implications for property values,” says Wong. He warns that people’s fear of missing out may also lead them to be caught up in the price cycle.
The interplay between markets and state intervention is always at work in the real estate industry, especially in ensuring the affordability of housing. “We cannot just continue with the status quo and assume that property prices will always appreciate, regardless of fundamentals,” the minister says.
Wong was speaking at the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) conference on “Real Estate and Urban Studies”, which was held on May 24 at the Raffles City Convention Centre. The event was organised by the Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies (IREUS), the university’s research unit for real estate studies.
The conference saw the official launch of the institute’s new name and focus. It was formerly known as the NUS Institute of Real Estate Studies. “The inclusion of the word ‘urban’ in the institute’s new name reflects the broadened scope of its research, covering urban issues in the context of cities and the built environment,” says Seek Ngee Huat, chairman of IREUS.
Seek Ngee Huat, chairman of IREUS, says global macro trends like changing demographics, climate change, and socio-economic tensions will provide rich research areas for the institute