Jan 22, 2007

Moves to make property market more transparent

By Joyce Teo, Property Correspondent

THE Government's move to provide more property price information will help make the market a more level playing field, industry experts said.

Yesterday, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said the Urban Redevelopment Authority will release additional price indexes for three geographical areas, as well as extra information such as the number of properties in the pipeline.

The move follows the heightened level of interest, reports of high take-up rates and prices, and the public's concerns over the level of speculation in the property market, he said.

The data - some of which is available to subscribers of real estate information systems - paves the way for a more transparent market for the man in the street.

'It will lessen some of the confusion over the performance of certain segments of the market,' said Knight Frank's research and consultancy director, Mr Nicholas Mak. 'There also won't be unnecessary anxiety over runaway property prices,' he added.

'The mass market has only gone up by 3 per cent last year but if the overall index shows a 10 per cent rise, it will cause the potential buyers of such properties to panic,' said Chesterton International's head of research and consultancy, Mr Colin Tan.

'The indexes will also help novice speculators. They have to ask themselves - should I go in?'

Said Mr Mak: 'It's an additional tool to measure to performance of the market.'

However, as the indexes cover a wide area, it could still misrepresent the market, said an experienced property investor.

'At the end of the day, you still have to look at the specifics of a property before you buy,' he said.

For example, a property in district 15 will cost more than one in say, Bukit Batok, but it will not be reflected in the index, he said.

In the long term, as long as the Government strives for more transparency, it will be good for the market, said Savills Singapore's director of marketing and business development, Mr Ku Swee Yong.

It gives more confidence to the market and will attract more foreign investors because they will have a lot more data to back their actions, he said.