Saturday, June 26, 2010

Probably no property bubble here yet: MM

THERE is probably no bubble in Singapore's property market, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said yesterday.

The sharp price rises that have been seen are 'part of the total liquidity in the whole world system', said Mr Lee, noting that interest rates are low, and foreigners still see properties as affordable.

'Even if we cap our excess, people in Hong Kong, Indonesia, will say, compared to what I have to pay, Singapore is cheap, let's buy it,' he added.

'And apart from landed properties, they can buy into any condos.'

Mr Lee, who was speaking at a dinner hosted by the Association of Banks in Singapore, said that the Government is convinced that there is real underlying demand for residential property.

'So it's probably not a bubble yet,' he added.

Still, he pointed out that the Government has taken measures to address concerns relating to the market overheating, including releasing more land to developers and putting in place more stringent rules for buyers when borrowing from banks to finance property.

'More land is being released, to dampen the enthusiasm of everybody rushing for the latest release, and we've told the banks to be more prudent and have a higher downpayment,' said Mr Lee.

'These are the precautions we can take, but it does not stop the Indonesians or the Thais or the Malaysian Chinese or the Filipino Chinese from coming here and saying, 'Compared to what I have to pay in my country, this is cheap'.'

Mr Lee was responding to a question by a Standard Chartered banker who had asked about whether he was worried about property prices here.

The banker had also tacked on a second question: 'Can we expect elections anytime soon?'

To that, Mr Lee replied: 'I am not the Prime Minister, I don't decide. And anyway it's got nothing to do with a property boom.'

Source: Straits Times, 26 Jun 2010

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