Why the Singapore Economy Really Isn’t That Bad

Whenever we appraise economic growth, there is always a tendency to take a short rather than a longer-term perspective. Such a focus not only encourages us to see things in a less favourable light, but it also undervalues the importance of historical trends and any incremental growth that the global economy has experienced over the course of the last 30 years or more.

A quick glance at the global economy reveals that the levels of growth sustained since the Great Recession began in 2008 has been immensely disappointing by most metrics. Any prosperity that has been evident in either developed or emerging economies during this time has been sporadic, while uncertainty and geopolitical volatility has also caused significant fluctuating in the financial markets.

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Despite this, PWT data on average, real-time inflation per capita GDP tells a slightly different narrative. This reveals that the global population was 80% richer financially in 2010 than it was in 1980, while also underlining the fact that gradual, long-term growth trends are all too easy to overlook. Interestingly, the average material well-being of society is three-times what it was in 1950, and this is an economic trend that should offer hope for future generations.

The Singapore Economy: Should We View it From an Alternative Perspective?

It should also alter our perspective on the modern day economy, particularly the ways in which we appraise specific markets, regions and asset classes in real-time. This is crucial when looking to forecast future growth trends and pre-empt the impact of specific market developments, as it encourages us to operate with a keen sense of determinism and recognise the robust nature of the global economy. It also reaffirms the cyclical nature of boom and bust and the fact that even a weak macro-economy can offer unique advantages to businesses, consumers

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Staggering $238 million extension charges for property developers

As a wealth builder, I will always try to avoid investing in property stocks because this sector is prone to many restrictive government policies due to the scarcity of land in Singapore. For many property developers, among the most unpopular policies should be the Qualifying Certificate Rules under the Residential Property Act.

Under the Qualifying Certificate Rules, listed property companies are technically considered as “foreign companies” as they would have some foreign shareholders. Thus, they are obliged to sell all their units within 5 years from the date of the Qualifying Certificate or collective sale deal. Failing to do so would incur hefty penalty.

According to property consultancy firm Cushman and Wakefield (C&W), property developers may incur about $238 million of extension charges in 2016. This is certainly not a small amount to be scoffed at and it is also important to note that the extension charges are not one-off penalties. Developers would face annual charges as per the following:

  1. 8% per annum on the purchase price of the residential property for
    the first year of extension;
  2. 16% per annum on the purchase price of the residential property for
    the second year of extension; and
  3. 24% per annum on the purchase price of the residential property for
    the third and subsequent years of extension.

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From the perspective of home-owners, this policy certainly favor them as it would have served the intent of preventing foreign developers of hoarding lands. But unfortunately, like many things in life, there are always loopholes.

To get around this policy, many listed property developers had chosen to delist from SGX to avoid paying the extension charges. Examples are Popular Holdings and SC Global. Another way is for the listed company to transfer all unsold units to a privately held Singapore company.

Eventually, home-owners could be …

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Mortgage Interest Rates– Key Factors That Impacts it

Interest Rate
Interest rate charged is the reward for taking the risk on the capital. Interest rate is often referred to as the “cost of funds” or hurdle rate.

Risk to Capital
If the lender perceives a higher default risk on capital lent out, the higher the interest demanded. The causes to credit risks can come from shocks to the financial system from within the country or beyond. As the world’s financial systems are increasingly interlinked, any credit event far away can increase potential default risk.

Demand for funds
The increased demand for funds when it outstrips the supply will also cause interest rates to rise. Genuine demand of funds comes from the industry’s need for investment. Industry will borrow money for investments if they think their investments returns can better the interest rate. This type of capital demand can help a country increase its productive capacity. The other types of demand are for household consumption such as housing mortgages, car loans, renovation loans or personal consumption.

Supply of funds
The supply of funds varies in each country. The supply of funds can come in local currency or
foreign currency. The supply of funds generally comes from the banks. The banks in turn receive
their funds from equity and depositor’s funds. These funds are then lent out to borrowers, less
offcapital reserves requirement such as BASEL III to maintain the stability of the banks via a capital
adequacy ratio.

Financial institution having excess capital may then lend these funds to other financial institution other on an over-night basis, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months and so on. This is referred to as the interbank rate or benchmark interest rate. In Singapore it is referred to as the Sibor rate, in London, it is referred to as the Libor rate, in …

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Property Investment Insights

A few months ago, Mediacorp Channel 8 broadcasted a programme about a Singapore lady who got the shock of her life when the CPF Board froze her CPF account which she is using to service her outstanding HDB loan.Apparently she is 54 years old this year and she mistakenly thought that her CPF monies was frozen because it would be transferred to the Retirement Account (RA). But actually what happened was that she had reached her CPF Withdrawal Limit and thus, she was not allowed to use further CPF savings to pay the remaining home loan in cash. Her plight is not surprising to me because I believe many Singaporeans are not aware of how this CPF rule works and how it would affect them when they reached their fifties.

According to Moneysense, if you applied for HDB Concessionary Loan to repay the loan for your properties in Singapore, there will be a cap to the amount of CPF savings you can use. This limit is called the CPF Valuation Limit and the amount is the lower of the purchase price or valuation at the time of purchase. For example: if you bought the property for $300,000 and its valuation is $330,000, the Valuation Limit will be $300,000. Now, things a little bit complicated if your housing loan is still outstanding when your total CPF used has reached the Valuation Limit and,

  • you are below 55 years old, you may continue to use your CPF Ordinary Account savings up to the applicable Housing Withdrawal Limit to repay the housing loan after setting aside half of the prevailing Minimum Sum. Savings in the CPF Special Account (including the amount used for investments) and CPF Ordinary Account can be used to meet half of the prevailing Minimum Sum.
  •  you are 55 years
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Property Financing

In one of her articles, local blogger YP shared a real estate investment ordeal that she and her husband suffered many years  ago. Like many Singaporeans, they had bought a private property because her husband’s colleague had bought a newly-launched project. Fearing that they would miss the boat, they also bought a unit.
But unfortunately, they had to sell the unit in the end and suffered a loss. In her article, she listed 6 lessons learned from her failed property investment. But in my humble opinion, both of them committed a few major mistakes made by Singaporeans when it comes to buying properties.Most Singapore investors have a misguided belief that property is a sure-win asset that they should possess in their investment portfolios. But they don’t realize that during economic downturns, that asset could become a toxic liability that might lead to their personal finance downfalls. This is especially so if the investors lost their jobs or if the rentals were not enough to cover the mortgage installments. Always remember that in good times, bankers will be your good friends because they want you to borrow money from them. But in bad times, they will not hesitate to repossess your property if you fail to pay the mortgage on time.

Like blogger YP, many Singapore investor lost money from dabbling in the property game because their mindsets are not correct. First of all, to win the game, you must discuss with your spouse the key reason for buying a property. This is an all-important issue that must be addressed before you even step into the show-rooms. This is because the factors for “buying-for-living” and “buying-for-investments” purposes are different. Obviously if you are buying the property to live in, there would be emotional attachments involved and the criteria list that
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Are cooling measures for Singapore property solving the right problem?

SG Wealth Builder is pleased to form a partnership with SRX Singapore Property to bring you the latest information on property trend in Singapore. Below article is based on information provided by SRX Research and readers must not interpret it as a form of financial advice.
Recent Singapore Real Estate Exchange (SRX) data suggests that the government’s cooling measures have been very effective at reducing the volume sales for condominiums and private apartments. In particular, the combination of measures to tighten the loan-to-value limits and the total debt servicing ratio have helped cut volume sales from 32,125 transactions in 2012, to 20,203 last year. These two measures have been effective at reducing demand because they restrict the amount of capital Singaporeans can borrow to purchase investment properties.The impact of the cooling measures on price has been less dramatic. Again, the two measures seem to have had the most effect. However, prices did not plummet like volume did. Instead, the former plateaued and experienced monthly gains and losses.

It is more difficult for cooling measures to bring down prices than it is to bring down volume sales. The reason is that the market is constantly in search of a fundamental price for each home, factoring in many variables and pricing signals unavailable to analysts and policymakers.This fundamental price does not change when policymakers introduce measures to stimulate or dampen the market. It merely goes into hibernation.

For a transaction to take place, the buyer and seller must agree that the price of the house is acceptable; otherwise one of the two parties will sit out and wait for the market to change. Cooling measures encourage one or two, or both, parties to sit on the side lines and wait for a more favourable environment. Most participants in today’s private market are

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More HDB flats sold below valuation

According to an article by Property Guru, 105 HDB flats were sold below valuation in October. Based on HDB data, this trend is significantly down from the average monthly 0.3% for H1 2013 and reflected the number of flats sold below valuation increased four times in October compared to the first half of 2013. This phenomenon indicated a weakening demand caused by the “twin attacks” of stricter home loan rules and massive new flats construction programme announced by HDB in recent years. So should property investors press the panic items and run for their lives?

As written in my previous article, the cooling measure will not change market sentiment. Throughout history, the best form of cooling measure had always been a recession.

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During recession, there would be widespread retrenchment by companies and it is only when people lost their jobs and lost money in stock investments, then they would be forced to sell their investment properties at cut throat prices. When this occurred, the market will correct itself and bring down property prices.

So I foresee that property prices will stabilize for the next two to three years, baring any form of recession taking place in Singapore. However, I don’t think that premium over valuation, commonly known as “cash over valuation (COV)” will enjoy its heady days. The average COV used to be $30,000 to $50,000 for five-room HDB flats, but nowadays, sellers might find it difficult to command such COV. This is because of the government’s measure to restrict new permanent resident from buying resale HDB flats within three years.

The most affected group of people could be those who speculate in private developments and up-graders who purchased private housing at the peak of the property cycle. This group of people took out massive home loans to

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Property investments in Singapore

Today, The Straits Times published that a record 18,400 new homes is expected to be completed in Singapore this year. This figure surpassed the previous high of 14,600 units built in 1997, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority data. Will the avalanche of new homes cool property investment in Singapore?

Coupled with the slew of policy measures implemented by Singapore government in recent years, the red hot property market seems to cool down a bit. Although the number of transactions for resale and sub-sale transactions dropped in the last few months, private home prices still remain high. Analysts expected private home prices to post a moderate rise of about 3 – 4 per cent this year.

Property investment

Investing in Singapore properties
Every market has its cycles. Gold, silver and equities have their rises and falls throughout history. Property is no exception. The current property market has been on an incredible bull run since the United States banking crisis in 2008. Hot money resulting from the Quantitative Easings had entered Asia countries and caused housing bubbles to be formed.

In HDB Singapore, prices for landed and non-landed homes have rocketed to unprecedented levels. Medium cash-over-valuation (COV) for resale HDB is now $30,000 and there were reported cases of Bishan flats being sold for a million dollars. The investment demands are not fuelled by normal market supply and demand. To counter this, the government has rolled out a series of cooling measures to tame the investment demand from buyers but to no avail.

To buy or not?
Obviously no asset can go up forever. Nobody can predict accurately when the bubble will burst for Singapore’s properties but when that day comes, it is going to be a very devastating event.

The current property market in Singapore is nearing its peak and its downfall

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