2021 has been a prosperous year for the Singapore property market, which has displayed incredible resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite safe management measures that seemed ever-changing, dependent on the number of the COVID-19 cases in the community, Singaporeans have shown that they are more adaptable than ever and have not let this get in the way of their property plans.
In the PropertyGuru Singapore Property Market Outlook 2022 (PMO 2022), we reflect on the year gone by, pulling together key data and expert insights to predict what we can look forward to in 2022.
Read the full report online or download a copy for later.
Want a quick snapshot of the PropertyGuru Singapore Property Market Outlook 2022? Here’s a handy overview of our key findings and insights.
- Looking back at 2021
- What to expect in 2022
- New projects in 2022
- Conclusion: Is 2022 the year when things go ‘back to normal’?
Looking Back at 2021
Property prices and transactions rose for six consecutive quarters, overcoming all adversities and bucking all trends. Even during traditional lull seasons, such as the Lunar Seventh Month in August and September, the market continued to boom.
With most borders remaining shut until the second half of the year, property activity in 2021 was primarily driven by local buyers.
Over 25,000 HDB flats reached their Minimum Occupation Period in 2021, resulting in a large group of HDB upgraders fuelling demand for larger HDB resale flats and entry-level condos. The luxury segment also saw a revival as many record-breaking transactions made headlines throughout the year. Many Good Class Bungalows changed hands too.
However, despite climbing prices, the Government announced in June 2021 that the market was not “overheated” yet, quelling rumours. In October 2021, the Government introduced a new Prime Location Housing (PLH) model to manage the prices of future HDB flats in prime locations.
Update: On 15 December 2021, the Government announced new measures to cool the property market, raising the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates, tightening the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR), and lowering the Loan-to-Value (LTV) limit for housing loans taken from HDB.
The new policies are not surprising. As referenced in our Singapore Property Market Index Q2 2021 report, we have predicted tighter property curbs in 2021 since the start of the year.
This time, the trigger seems to be the sharp increase in the number of million-dollar HDB transactions. The HDB property market underpins the residential property market in Singapore, which is why the Government has started with reducing the TDSR and lowering the LTV limit for HDB-financed loans.
What to Expect in 2022
Prices have risen each quarter since the Circuit Breaker in Q2 2020 but the pace of growth is slowing down. With another estimated 31,000 HDB flats coming off their MOP in 2022, the impact of HDB upgraders is likely to continue. Additionally, foreign investors will come back into the market if Singapore continues to reopen its borders via Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs).
Update: The impact of the newest cooling measures is significant. Multiple property buyers are affected by the increase in ABSD rates, especially investors and foreigners. Although first-time Singaporean buyers are exempted from ABSD, they are still subject to the tightened TDSR of 55%. The objective of this is to reduce household mortgage debt. Developers also face a higher remissible ABSD rate of 35%.
In view of the latest property curbs, we expect the residential housing market to slow down significantly, at least as a knee-jerk reaction. Compared to owner-occupiers, investors and foreigners are the most heavily impacted by the new measures. These buyers may opt for overseas and/or commercial property investments instead. The expected recovery in the foreign-buyer market may also be hampered due to the steep ABSD rate hike.
In 2022, we are expecting only about 11 new launch projects. This lack of new launches is because the Government has been actively cutting back on the land supply over the past few years. With the GLS pipeline tapering, there was a slight buzz in the collective sales scene this year.
As of Q3 2021, about 25 new en bloc sites were put up for tender, compared to only 11 last year. How many are eventually sold remains to be seen. This will determine the supply for the next few years.
Update: On 16 December 2021, the Government announced that they will be increasing the supply in the confirmed list of Government Land Sales (GLS) sites in H1 2022 to 2,785 units, up by 39% year-on-year. We still expect fewer than usual new launch projects in 2022, but this news means there could be more private properties to look forward to in 2023 and beyond.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Federal Reserve slashed interest rates to near-zero in early 2020. Global interest rates and local mortgage rates recovered slightly in 2021, but have mostly remained low. Access to affordable credit has contributed to the recent property buying frenzy, as it is much cheaper to take up a home loan now than it has been in years.
Recently, the U.S. Fed announced that they intend to raise interest rates at least twice in 2022. While a sudden spike is unlikely, this will inevitably result in a gradual increase in Singapore mortgage rates.
Finally, there is chatter around introducing wealth tax to address the growing wealth disparity in Singapore.
The Government has said that they agree to wealth tax in principle, but it is “not so easy to implement”. The current challenge is how to impose the tax over a range of assets – which will likely include property – and how to drive it equitably.
New Projects in 2022
Conclusion: Is 2022 the Year When Things Go ‘Back to Normal’?
We will probably still grapple with safe management measures in our daily lives in 2022. Although Singapore property buyers have well adapted to that, the new cooling measures is a new curve ball. How the market reacts remains to be seen.
For more in-depth analysis on the above, read the full Singapore Property Market Outlook 2022:
Or, read past years’ Property Market Outlook Reports:
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