Tuesday, March 4, 2008

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Smart Buyers Collection: Singapore property market is doomed

Smart Buyers Collection is a collection of words of wisdom by various Singapore property watchers.

By: Sean
Posted: 4-Mar-2008

Singapore property market is doomed to fall/decline this year and next year. The main reasons are as follows:

(a) There are still a significant number of speculators (estimated at 30%) still holding to their existing properties with the hope of making quick bucks before TOP. Unfortunately, there will be 30-40 condo developments numbering up to 20,000 units which will go TOP this year or next year. Its real unfortunate that in 2008-2009, the global economy will not improve. There will be over-supply on top of the existing sales that we see on Classified Ads every Saturday...We shall also see pages and pages of auction sales or files for bankruptcies. As such, some desperate speculators will have no choice but sell their properties at the prices which they have bought in 2006/2007 to escape from bank actions. Banks will be more stricter on extending loans and this will make life more difficult for speculators.

(b) Rentals at present moment are still steady but unfortunately getting slower and slower in uptake rates. With more and more units coming on-stream in 2008/2009, tenants will be spoilt for choice. In addition, the bleak economic prospects in US and the global economy might mean a cutdown in factory productions which ultimately will increase unemployment. We will see lesser and lesser tenants in time to come but greater and greater number of landlords willing to bring down rents.

(c) The property price in Singapore cannot be supported by the local population. This is because in 2007, property prices increase by 40% or more, mainly due to the rampant acts of speculators or enbloc sellers in the market and not by genuine homeowners. In contrast, average salary increases just an average of 5-10%. This is not consistent. Corrections are bound to happen anytime soon.

(d) Now, it seems that speculators have gone with the end of deferred payment so as the number of enbloc sellers who probably have already relocated to suburban areas. With these 2 group of buyers gone, the only ones left are the local and foreign buyers. Unfortunately, both groups of buyers are extremely cautious now with the pessimistic economic outlook. These buyers have got burnt from stock investments as well as got stuck with existing properties.

(e) Singapore is in big trouble now. We can see this with the 'aggressive activities by our ministers to tap the Middle East market and investment...hoping to get more investors from these countries to come to Singapore.'. Unfortunately, this is not going to happen anytime soon. The Middle East consumers/investors are more attuned to Muslim markets like Malaysia, Indonesia and Turkey and not Singapore. We can witness the thousands of Middle East tourists that come to Malaysia compared to a mere hundreds that come here. And bear in mind that the Middle East millionaires are more proned to dumping their properties when they see no real values in retaining them due to their huge pockets.

(f) Its true that the markets of the future belong to those rich in commodities like Middle East countries and Malaysia which are rich in oil and natural resources. Unfortunately, Singapore does not have any of these qualities. Singapore is in many ways like a miniature US. We depend a lot on the existing local talents as well as investments from overseas. Our economy is export-based with the US being our biggest customer. We will be the worst-hit when the credit crisis reach our homeland anytime soon unlike the Middle East countries which have high-priced oil to back them up. Even Middle East will be affected soon when their oil price drops when demand goes down with the recession in the long term. No one is immuned to the US economy.

(g) Property transactions in Singapore is probably the lowest in a decade in February this year. I hardly see any transactions going on in some areas of Singapore. This is a very bad sign. When there are no buyers but many sellers...and many many more sellers by the end of 2008...and economy gets worst in end-2008, and we will see even fewer buyers..unless there is a major price correction, many sellers will get burnt and lose everything including their 20% deposit to buy the property. Banks will lower their property valuations when economy gets bad and sellers will be hard pressed to compete for buyers' money.

(h) Even the IR, F1 Grand Prix, Youth Olympics etc will not do much to hype up the property market at a time of economic downturn. This is because F1 Grandprix is only held less than a week in a year so as the Youth Olympics. IR/Casinos are found not only in Singapore but also in Malaysia, Korea and US. When times are bad, no one will be gambling away their money at the casinos. In year 1996, Singapore property market experienced its most robust year, even better than 2007, where buyers pay people to queue up for units. At that time, our government even plans to have a bullet train to link to Malaysia, and are talking up plans to expand the Marina Bay area with their huge land reclaimation efforts. Government also has great plans for Tanjong Rhu area with a Marina and Marine Village planned. But the 1997 currency crisis came and every plans that we had go down buried in the grounds for 7 or more years....What makes you think that this wont happen again this year round ???

(i) Have you ever considered why Government corporations like Temasek and GIC are heavily investing in US/European banks to keep them afloat from the sub-prime crisis ?? It is because Singapore has so much stake to lose if these crisis goes uncontrolled....from the pattern, it seems that the damage is already done and cannot be undone despite the massive injections of funds from GICs and Sovereign Funds. The US economy is in debt to the tune of US$3 trillion or more....How to rectify these problems ???

And so, my friends, if you still think that the already overpriced property prices in Singapore will go up further, you are indeed dreaming. Wake up to reality !


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The blogger here has been affectionately named by close allies as "Smart Buyer" but really, he's not smart. Smart Buyer just believes that being prudent is smart. That's the essence of the message of this blog and Smart Buyer hopes it'll benefit other property buyers.

Smart Buyer :)