Top 8 property news stories in 2014

Romesh NavaratnarajahDecember 30, 2015

Singapore property

With 2014 drawing to a close and the new year fast approaching, let’s look back at the most popular stories on PropertyGuru that got you talking.


8. Forget COV, welcome to CUV

Previously, cash-over-valuations (COV) of up to $100,000 were fairly common for properties in Singapore, but after the government’s series of cooling measures, it became more common for owners to sell their homes at below market prices. For instance, an estate agent revealed that one private property valued at $1.42 million is likely to be sold for $1.25 million. Even the public housing market was not spared from this trend, according to Evan Chung, Vice President of DTZ’s resale division. In fact, 28.5 percent of HDB resale deals in January 2014 were closed below valuation based on official statistics.

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7. Johor investors to face problems

Ryan Khoo, veteran investor and author of the bestselling book “What’s the Big Deal with Iskandar”, believes the RM1 million minimum purchase price threshold in Malaysia will negatively affect foreign property buyers, including Singaporeans who reportedly account for up to 70 percent of property purchases in some parts of Johor. Effective since May 1st, foreigners are only allowed to sell their homes to other overseas buyers for at least RM1 million. They can sell it to Malaysians below that price, but local buyers of new and yet-to-be-completed resale properties are extremely few and far between.

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6. 4 reasons why 2014 could be a turbulent year for Singapore property

Real estate expert Getty Goh forecasted that Singapore’s property market is expected to brave a tumultuous sea in 2014 and 2015 due to four factors. The first reason is that more new properties are expected to enter market from 2014 to 2017 at a rate of over 15,000 units per annum compared to just 6,305 in 2013. Second, the number of total transacted units has fallen sharply since the second quarter of 2013. Third, owners who have overstretched themselves financially are now struggling to apply for refinancing. Lastly, the pool of potential home buyers has shrunk significantly due to the series of property curbs.

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5. MAS eases TDSR restrictions

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) relaxed the restrictive TDSR for certain property buyers in February. Under the revised guidelines, a borrower who purchased a house before the rules were implemented is exempt from the 60 percent limit as long as he or she occupies the property that is being refinanced. For unoccupied investment properties, borrowers may refinance their loans above the limit until 30 June 2017 as long as the property was bought before the introduction of the rules, but the borrower is required to pass a bank’s credit assessment and abide by its debt reduction plan.

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4. Call to reduce cooling measures

Before the government’s budget for 2014 was announced in February by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Tharman Shanmugaratnam, real estate experts were hopeful that the authorities would either revise or roll back the stringent property cooling measures as it was already achieving its desired results. In particular, they wanted the government to tweak or scale back the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework as its dragging down property prices and transaction volumes, likewise for the Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) because they are severely curtailing sub-sales and foreign property buyers.

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3. The reality of the resale market

Excluding landed homes, average resale prices of private residential properties across Singapore decreased by 0.98 percent in January 2014 on a monthly basis, even though average psf prices of private condominiums increased in four out of six regions. Additionally, transaction volumes fell to 229 units in January 2014 from 303 units during December 2013. Data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) revealed that the dip in average resale prices was attributed to the 5.44 percent drop in the North East and the 13.75 percent decline in the Core Central Region. On the other hand, the North, East, West and Central regions posted gains ranging from 3.34 percent to 7.0 percent.

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2. HDB flat in Bishan sold for a record $1.05 million

A young couple forked out a whopping $1.05 million to buy a HDB executive maisonette at Bishan Street 13 in December 2013, translating to a cash-over-valuation (COV) of $250,000. Situated on the 20th floor of Block 190, the 1,615 sq ft flat was listed on PropertyGuru for about one month and it piqued the interest of three other buyers willing to spend more than $1.05 million, according to the broker Thomas Hee from DWG. A check of the portal’s listings back then showed that there were two HDB executive maisonettes in the same area with asking prices of $1 million and $1.2 million.

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1. Forbes: Singapore’s richest in 2014

Sixteen Singaporean billionaires made it to Forbes’ annual ranking of the world’s richest people, with property players topping the list yet again. Philip and Robert Ng of Far East Organization retained the number one spot for Singapore with their combined net worth of US$11 billion. The second place was clinched by Pontiac Land’s Kwee siblings – Kwee Liong Keng, Kwee Liong Tek, Kwee Liong Seen and Kwee Liong Phing – with a collective net worth of US$5.2 billion. Other real estate moguls who secured a position in the elite club were UOL Group Chairman Wee Cho Yaw, Hong Leong Group’s Executive Chairman Kwek Leng Beng and investor Peter Lim.

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Romesh Navaratnarajah, Singapore Editor of PropertyGuru Group, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories email


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