Singapore's housing market growing stronger
Lalaine C. Delmendo | February 02, 2022
During the latest quarter (i.e. q-o-q in Q4 2021), residential property prices increased 5.02% (3.71% inflation-adjusted).
- In Core Central Region (CCR), prices of non-landed private residential properties rose by a modest 3.67% (0.22% inflation-adjusted) during 2021, following y-o-y declines of 0.4% in 2020 and 1.7% in 2019, according to URA. Quarter-on-quarter, prices increased 2.52% (1.23% inflation-adjusted) during the latest quarter.
- In the Rest of Central Region (RCR), property prices were up by a huge 16.94% (13.04% inflation-adjusted) during 2021, sharply up from annual rises of 4.69% in 2020 and 2.8% in 2019. Quarter-on-quarter, prices rose by 7.31% (5.97% inflation-adjusted) in Q4 2021.
- In Outside Central Region (OCR), property prices rose by 8.44% (4.83% inflation-adjusted) during 2021, following y-o-y increases of 3.2% in 2020 and 4.2% in 2019. During the latest quarter, prices increased 5.4% (4.08% inflation-adjusted).
Weak residential construction had a bid impact - in Q3 2021, there were 2,149 uncompleted private residential units launched in Singapore, down by 43.3% from 3,791 units in Q3 2020, according to URA. This follows a 4.5% fall in the total number of uncompleted private residential units launched during 2020. In fact as of Q3 2021, there were only about 17,100 unsold units in Singapore, down by 35% from a year ago and close to the historical low seen in 2017.
In a surprise move to cool the housing market, the government introduced another round of market-cooling measures in December 2021, including raising the additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD), tightening the total debt servicing ratio (TDSR), and reducing the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio.
Yet market sentiment remains positive. “All said, the private residential market is performing in line with economic fundamentals and even if we see a 7% price increase in 2022, this should not be read as a sign of over-heating,” said Savills.
Singapore's economy grew strongly by 7.2% during 2021, in sharp contrast from the previous year's pandemic-induced contraction of 5.4% and the highest growth since 2010, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). The country's fast economic recovery can be partly attributed by the government's fast rollout of coronavirus vaccines. By end-2021, about 87% of the population were fully-vaccinated.
For 2022, Singapore's economy is expected to return to its long-term average growth of about 5%.
Foreigners have been able to buy any apartment without prior government approval since the Residential Property Act of July 19, 2005. However, foreigners still cannot purchase vacant land and landed properties without permission from the Singapore Land Authority. Non-residential property is not subject to these ownership restrictions.
You wouldn't own a Singapore condominium for rental yields!
Singapore is a safe haven, it is a liquid market, everyone in Asia knows and trusts its institutions. Low interest rates have played their part in pushing property prices up, despite the efforts of the ever-vigilant Monetary Authority of Singapore and the government. Property in Singapore commands a premium, and conversely returns to owners who rent out their properties are low.
Nobody can say that condos in Singapore are cheap, at around US$14,000 - US$18,000 per square metre (sq. m.). That´s because there´s a ´global city´ premium. Gross rental yields in Singapore remain poor, at around 3.0%.
Round trip transaction costs are very low in Singapore. See our Property transaction costs analysis for Singapore and Property transaction costs in Japan, compared to the rest of Asia.
Rental income tax in Singapore is high
Rental Income: Net rental income earned by nonresidents is taxed at 22%. Property tax, insurance, maintenance and repairs are all deductible from gross rental income.
Property Tax: Property tax is levied at a flat rate of 10% for rental properties. Foreigners pay a 10% surcharge.
Capital Gains: There is no capital gains tax.
Inheritance: There is no estate duty as of 15 February 2008.
Residents: Residents are taxed on their income at progressive rates, ranging from 2% to 22%.
Roundtrip buying costs in Singapore can reach 34.45%
The total roundtrip costs are about 13.45% to 34.45%. The buyer pays stamp duty at around 1% to 3%. The buyer may pay additional stamp duty of 5% to 15. Because Singapore uses a common database of all property listings, there is no sense in hiring more than one agent. To register the property, there are four procedures, typically done in six days.
Singapore favours landlords
With the passage of the Control of Rent (Abolition) Act in 2001, the law in Singapore became clearly pro-landlord.
Rents: The parties can freely determine the rent and the rate of rent increase. Tenants usually pay a security deposit of one month’s rent for every year of lease.
Dispute Resolution: Most landlord and tenant disputes are resolved through mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution, usually through groups such as the Consumer Association of Singapore (CASE) and Singapore Mediation Center (SMC).
Strong economic growth; improving labour marketSingapore’s economy expanded by 7.2% during 2021, in sharp contrast from the prior year’s pandemic-induced contraction of 5.4% and the highest growth since 2010, according to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). The economy grew by an average of 5.3% annually from 2010 to 2018 and slowed sharply to 1.3% in 2019.
- Manufacturing expanded by 12.8%, up from 7.3% in the previous year
- Construction surged 18.7%, a sharp rebound from the 35.9% contraction in 2020
- Services expanded by 5.2%, in contrast to a 6.9% decline in the previous year
Singapore’s fast economic recovery can be partly attributed by the government’s fast rollout of coronavirus vaccines. By end-2021, about 87% of the population were fully-vaccinated.
For 2022, Singapore’s economy is expected to return to its long-term average growth of about 5%.
The labour market is recovering steadily. Unemployment fell to 2.5% in November 2021, the lowest since the start of the pandemic, according to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Resident unemployment fell to 3.2% while citizen unemployment dipped to 3.5%.
“The increase in group sizes for dining out and the opening of more vaccinated travel lanes have allowed sectors hardest-hit by Covid-19 such as food and beverage services and air transport to begin ramping up capacity again. We expect hiring demand in domestic sectors to pick up with gradual relaxation of community measures,” said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng.
“With the spread of the Omicron variant throughout the world, it is likely that Singapore will see a new wave of cases in the coming weeks. Businesses and workers need to be adaptable and flexible as the Covid-19 situation changes,” Tan See Leng added.
The government introduced the SGUnited Jobs and Skills Package in May 2020 to help workers affected by the pandemic. The program received an additional SG$ 5.4 billion (US$ 4 billion) funds in Budget 2021 to support the hiring of 200,000 locals and provide up to 35,000 training opportunities. As of Q3 2021, more than 146,000 workers have been placed into jobs or training under the program.
Annual inflation accelerated to 3.8% in November 2021, the highest level since February 2013, mainly driven by increases in the cost of food and housing accommodation, according to Statistics Singapore.
Despite the increasing inflationary pressures, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the country’s central bank, retained the rate of appreciation of the S$NEER policy band at 0% per year in October 2021 with no change to the width of the policy band, to continuously boost economic activity.
“This policy stance was appropriate as core inflation was projected to rise only gradually from subdued levels and keep below its historical average.”
The average exchange rate in December 2021 was US$ 1 = SG$ 1.3633, a 2.3% depreciation from a year ago.