S'poreans remain positive on property

by Wong Wei Han

04:45 AM Sep 14, 2012

SINGAPORE - A majority of Singaporeans responding to a poll in July said that they are looking to purchase residential property within the next six to 12 months, despite the uncertain economic environment and high prices.

The latest Asia Property Market Sentiment Report, conducted by the iProperty Group, surveyed 25,754 people from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Hong Kong, of which 2,983 were from the Republic.

According to the survey, Singaporeans also indicated a strong interest to invest in property overseas, with Malaysia and Australia as their favoured locations.

"Up to 62 per cent of local respondents said that they intend to buy a property in the next 6-12 months. Many of these are upgrades, because 56 per cent of Singaporean respondents have occupied their present premises for five years or less," said iProperty Singapore General Manager Sean Tan.

The figure is slightly down from the last survey conducted in January, when 68 per cent of respondents expressed an intent to purchase property.

The report was released amid rising resale prices, which in August recorded a monthly increase of 4.5 per cent for private units and 1.8 per cent for HDB flats, according to the Singapore Real Estate Exchange. Global economic headwinds are starting to be felt here, with economists revising down their expectations of Singapore's GDP growth.

Despite the overall positive sentiment, a wait-and-see attitude may linger in sales of new private homes. Some buyers are looking to see how a possible over-supply will influence prices as over 32,000 new units will be completed between next year and 2014, an 85-per-cent increase from last year and this year.

Buyers from Malaysia and Indonesia are similarly upbeat, with 60 per cent and 82 per cent of respondents respectively looking to buy in the next 12 months. Demand is weaker in Hong Kong (35 per cent).

Mr Nicholas Mak, Executive Director of Research and Consultancy Department at SLP International Property Consultants, agrees that market sentiment in Singapore is cautious but mostly positive.

"However, I don't think the market will be as bullish as the survey results suggest. The high number of positive respondents may include potential buyers looking to access iProperty online services," he said.