Cooling measures 101: Indicators to notice primarily based on previous workouts

On 27 April 2023, new cooling measures in Extra Consumers’ Stamp Obligation (ABSD) have been launched, with double the taxation on foreigners shopping for their first and 2nd houses.

April’s measures come on the again of a rise in Purchaser’s Stamp Obligation for high-end properties in February, and an affordability stress-test (and ready durations for personal dwelling sellers) coverage in September final 12 months.

Since 2013, there have been extra measures applied during the last 1.5 years than in another interval.

Right here’s a fast have a look at cooling measures since 2010 and their affect on personal and HDB property transaction volumes and costs.

Cooling measures, volume and price trends Singapore
Cooling measures and their affect on personal property worth indices and volumes. (Supply: SRX)


Cooling measures, volume and price trends Singapore
Cooling measures and their affect on HDB resale costs and volumes. (Supply: SRX)

The SRX chart above exhibits the completely different cooling measures (marked by every vertical line and the corresponding insurance policies) launched in Singapore.

Usually, cooling measures are insurance policies put in place by the federal government, normally to rein in an overheated property market, marked by runaway costs (as proven within the trendline above) and/or insatiable transaction volumes (corresponding bar chart).

Some measures are extraordinarily focused, such because the EC Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) coverage of December 2013, that are for Government Condominium consumers, and the 35% ABSD on properties purchased in Belief, applied in Could 2022.

Others have an effect on a wider profile of dwelling consumers and sellers, reminiscent of tightening in Whole Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) and Mortgage-to-Worth Ratio (LTV). A number of are pressured by worldwide insurance policies, such because the stress-test rate of interest measure, which enforces prudent borrowing after a fast succession of US rate of interest hikes.

Based mostly on the chart, we are able to share some observations:

1. The post-crisis discrepancy between provide and demand

Naturally, one motive why there was a succession of cooling measures over the previous 12 months is because of a niche in provide and demand. As homebuyers recalibrate their lives after holding again all through the pandemic (learn: binge-shopping), there may be now heightened demand to satiate their home-shopping needs.

Sadly, because the demand got here fairly all of a sudden, builders and suppliers are discovering it ever-challenging to maintain up. This discrepancy will trigger a surge in costs – dwelling costs, rents, and upkeep prices.

An actual case research can be the interval between 2010 and 2013, when Singapore recovered from the International Monetary Disaster of 2008/2009 and pent-up demand brought about dwelling costs to surge (you possibly can see the worth index dipping post-2011 cooling measure earlier than the gradual ascend once more).

So moreover monitoring demand within the type of costs and quantity, we must be trying on the provide pipeline as nicely.

URA Housing Supply Q1 2023 forecast
Whereas most of us are monitoring demand, it pays to additionally monitor provide. Right here’s the provision pipeline for personal residential items and ECs over the approaching quarters and subsequent years as of the first quarter of 2023. This pipeline is up to date quarter to quarter. (Supply: URA)
URA Housing Supply Q1 2023 forecast 2
Notice the altering variety of unsold items launched in URA’s provide report each quarter as nicely. (Supply: URA)
HDB Dwelling Statistics 2021 2022
This chart exhibits HDB residential items underneath its administration which have been bought, rented, underneath development and accomplished as of FY2021/2022. (Supply: HDB annual report)

Simply bear in mind this: if provide goes up, costs are anticipated to stabilise (or hopefully do). If provide continues to falter to satisfy ever-increasing housing demand, then the federal government might want to step in and introduce cooling measures to mood it down – similar to what they did in 2013, and not too long ago.


2. Extra cooling measures could also be launched to shut gaps from earlier measures, regardless of how latest

Because the December 2021 cooling measures, a number of further measures have been launched, a few of them inside a couple of months of one another.

These embody ready durations for personal property sellers (Sept 2022), BSD hikes (Feb 2023), and April 2023’s ABSD charge will increase.

As you possibly can inform, every measure has, indirectly, a focused group or home-buying profiles in thoughts – meant to shut off sure gaps amongst a bigger pool of consumers.

Singapore CBD skyline
As Singapore continues to model itself for its stability in a world rife with geopolitical tensions, there will probably be international high-net-worth firms, households and people keen to maneuver their funds into safe-haven property right here in Singapore. (Picture credit score: Mike Enerio, Unsplash)

What this implies is that we can not rule out that these measures are ample for years to return. On account of geopolitics impacting the regional stream of funds and the after-effects of pandemic restraint, new gaps could emerge in fast successions, and therefore, new measures could also be wanted.

Pockets of intense scrutiny could also be in areas like rental hikes, the all-cash, high-COV HDB resale market, and the way foreigners whose nations are underneath FTAs with Singapore are shopping for property. For the latter, nationals and PRs of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland, and US residents are topic to the identical ABSD charge as Singaporeans, which means they pay 0% ABSD on their first property right here.

3. Many previous cooling measures have been launched after the tip of a specific quarter. Right here’s why.

In case you look again at previous measures, many have been launched on the finish of a specific quarter: 30 September 2022 (end-Q3), 16 December 2021 (end-This autumn), 6 July 2018 (early Q3), 29 June 2013 (end-Q2), 12 Jan 2013 (early Q1) and so forth.

The newest 27 April 2023 measure on ABSD got here on the heels of URA’s Q1 2023 statistics for personal residential properties.

For context, URA’s This autumn 2022 stats confirmed costs of personal residential properties slowing down with solely a 0.4% development in comparison with the earlier quarter. Not solely that, take-up (which denotes the variety of items bought quarter-to-quarter) was nearly unfavorable 70%. Many analysts attributed this to the affect of September’s measures, suggesting that the insurance policies have been working.

URA Q4 2022 stats
Supply: URA
URA Q1 2023 stats
Supply: URA

Nevertheless, Q1 2023 stats confirmed a reversal, with the worth index rising by 3.3% and take-up surging by 82%. That is regardless of a BSD charge hike in February 2023, which targets properties priced from S$1.5m and above.

In Q1 2023, we examine some 20 items in Klimt Cairnhill being bought to foreigners. Then, there was a 6,286-sqft unit at Les Maisons Nassim which was bought for S$36m in the identical quarter (at S$5,727 psf).

So April’s measures, which had the very best charge hikes in the direction of foreigners, would have taken these statistics into consideration – and what have you learnt – it’s out after March (the tip of Q1).

In case you want one other instance, try 2018’s. In This autumn of 2017, the worth index rose a mere 0.8% over Q3 2017. Take-up was unfavorable 30%.

URA Q4 2017 stats
Supply: URA


However the reverse occurred over the following quarter, when the worth index rose by nearly 4%. Nonetheless, take-up fell by about half of the earlier quarter, so perhaps it’s extra of a one-off?

URA Q1 2018 stats
Supply: URA

Then in Q2 2018, the worth index continued to rise by 3.4%. Not solely that, the take-up rose by practically 50%.

URA Q2 2018 stats
Supply: URA

Are you able to guess what occurred proper after Q2 2018? Sure, new cooling measures have been launched on 6 July 2018 on each ABSD and LTV.

So, need some recommendation? As a substitute of Netflix and Disney+, watch the URA statistics (and SRX’s price index for HDB resale and private landed/non-landed properties) as an alternative.

4. 2013 vs 2023: In search of that bowl sample in pricing

In case you research the variety of cooling measures on an annual foundation since 2010 at the very least, one of many extra restrictive years would in all probability be 2013, when three massive measures have been launched. They have been evenly unfold out – 12 January 2013, 29 June 2013 and 9 December 2013.

The Jan 2013 measure was on LTV and ABSD, which by now, we all know are supposed to curb speculative shopping for and funding in 2nd and subsequent properties. The June 2013 measure was on TDSR, which targeted on earnings affordability. Lastly, the Dec 2013 measure was for EC consumers, additionally to make sure affordability.

Home prices - bowl pattern

As of April 2023, two measures have been launched (except you see the latest modifications to HDB grant distribution as a type of cooling measure). The primary was the BSD charge hike in Singapore’s February price range, geared toward higher-priced properties, and the second was the April ABSD charge enhance, primarily aimed in the direction of foreigners.

Based mostly on the worth index, it has but to type a bowl sample, like what the three measures in 2013 ultimately did. That sample lasted for about 4 to 5 years.

In different phrases, an extra runaway spike in pricing and take-up over subsequent quarters this 12 months can be regarding to the authorities, and naturally, the affect of the selections they make thereafter.

Chill, Cool, Freeze or Frozen?

So what do these observations imply and the way do they apply to you?

In case you’re a house purchaser or vendor, we hope a few of these indicators will assist you to make extra knowledgeable choices. You don’t desire a scenario the place you’re caught like these folks.

Moreover, cooling measures aren’t haphazard or stop-gap measures the federal government makes on a whim. We’re very positive they ponder over reams and reams of forecasted knowledge and statistics earlier than coming to a cooling measure determination. The URA statistics on personal residential houses and HDB’s personal Resale Value Index are additionally publicly accessible for everybody.

The next are Researcher Studies for HDB resale, rental, ECs and landed throughout the three completely different areas (CCR, RCR and OCR) from Q1 2010 to Q1 2023. Be at liberty to cross-reference them towards the completely different occasions cooling measures have been applied.

HDB psf and volume q1 2010-q1 2023
An outline of quarter-to-quarter common psf worth and quantity will increase within the HDB market in line with area. Quarterly common psf costs of HDB resale flats within the OCR have surged by 32.02% since Q1 2020, due primarily from COVID, WFH and households on the lookout for bigger areas.


Condo psf and volume q1 2010-q1 2023
For condos, quarterly common psf costs of OCR condos have risen the very best at 25.77% since the pandemic DORSCON Orange. Equally, this was pushed primarily due to COVID, WFH and decrease psf costs of condos in self-sustaining and well-developed suburban cities.


ECs psf and volume q1 2010-q1 2023
Government Condos (ECs), largely situated within the OCR, noticed quarterly common psf costs rise by greater than 23% since Q1 2020. The transaction volumes could present a seasonal sample however that is in all probability an impact of resale ECs coming into the market after serving a 5-year Minimal Occupation Interval (MOPs) and 10-year privatisation interval.


Landed psf and volume q1 2010-q1 2023
Lastly, for landed properties, the most important quarterly common psf worth enhance got here from landed houses within the RCR, with a 44.08% spike since Q1 2020. Although quantity is way decrease than OCR landed properties, RCR landed houses type a big pool of demand as a result of their places inside prized neighbourhoods like GCB Areas within the city-fringe space.

Throughout all property varieties, quarterly common psf costs have risen considerably since Q1 2020 (the beginning of the pandemic). Excluding ECs, transaction volumes of all property varieties appear to point out indicators of a downtrend. Lowering volumes could sign impending stress for dwelling costs to observe swimsuit. If that occurs, that will give the market some respite.

Till we see the following quarterly statistics (and the affect of April’s measures), it’s arduous to inform, as we’re in uncharted waters right here, particularly for dwelling pricing traits. Nonetheless, we hope these observations are useful when you plan on promoting or shopping for a house.

In case you discovered this text useful, recommends 5 issues each on-the-fence homebuyer should do if new cooling measures are all of a sudden introduced and Why some new launches will nonetheless do nicely regardless of the most recent cooling measures.