Singapore’s Housing Slump May Point to Regional Decline

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By Jacob Maslow

Singapore Skyline
Singapore Skyline

Usually, Singapore is a good bellwether of the overall economic health of Southeast Asia. When the region is showing signs of economic vibrancy, Singapore rides the wave in a very pronounced way. One key measure of great economic times in the greater ASEAN region is when Singapore real estate prices are going up. Well, just based on recent auction figures and the recent trends in Singapore real property, it looks like the party is over. In fact, the declining value of Singapore real property, as well as the increase in repossessions, doesn’t just point to a softening local market, but also reflects a softening international demand.

A lot of the impressive gains in real estate prices in Singapore were actually fueled by international demand. Currently, there are less and less foreign buyers. Add to this picture the lending curbs put in place by the Singapore government, and you have a massive decline in demand. This has led to several months of declining real estate values.
Another troubling sign is the increase in loan defaults. Does this point to a real estate market crash in Southeast Asia? It is still quite uncertain how clearly Singapore demand reflects the wider ASEAN real estate market.
Considering the fact that the Chinese economy is slowing down, as well as general economic weakness in Japan, it would not be a surprise for Singapore’s decline in home prices to continue into the foreseeable future. In fact, Singapore home prices fell by 4% in 2014. This is the first decline in home values on a year-on-year basis since 2008. That’s right-since the Great Financial Crash, this is the first decline in Singapore’s real estate market.
It is a good idea to look at the real estate market in Hong Kong and China to see where the regional Asian market is headed. So far, it is not looking good. The home sale patterns in China leave much to be desired.


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