Singapore Home Sales High Ahead of Latest Virus Flareup

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Singapore home sales remained high in April, just before a flareup of coronavirus cases test the resilience of the property market.

Purchases of new private apartments slipped by 2.6% to 1,262 last month from 1,296 units in March, Urban Redevelopment Authority figures showed on Monday.

Demand from home buyers has been a bright spot in Singapore’s economic recovery, which is at risk of slowing as the government imposes harsh restrictions to combat the latest Covid-19 outbreak. Rising home sales and prices have spurred speculation that authorities may take steps to cool the market, though some analysts now question whether such a move is necessary.

“While the government will continue to monitor the high sales and prices, there are other areas of concern now, such as the resurgence of Covid cases, which may all have an impact on whether it is a suitable time now to implement more cooling measures,” said Christine Sun, senior vice president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie.

Singapore announced Friday that it’s returning to lockdown-like conditions it last imposed a year ago, banning dining at restaurants and limiting gatherings to two people until mid-June. Last year, apartment viewings were barred and demonstration units closed. As of now sites remain open, but the maximum capacity for viewings have been reduced from five to two per group.

Authorities have cautioned that low interest rates can distort asset prices and the property market shouldn’t run ahead of economic fundamentals. Home prices climbed 3.3% last quarter, the most since the second three months of 2018, right before officials last took steps to calm the market.

In a parliamentary response, the government acknowledged that the pace of increase in private and public housing prices has gathered momentum since the second quarter of 2020, reflecting broad-based demand for housing, supported by low rates. It will continue to monitor economic and property markets closely.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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