Snippet from Asiaone, Feb 15, 2011

SINGAPORE – The number of private homes sold in Singapore soared to a 14-month high in January, indicating housing demand remained buoyant and that the government may have to introduce more measures to cool the market.

Private home sales in January, including executive condominiums more than tripled to 2,077 units, compared to 670 units sold in December, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed on Wednesday.

This was despite new measures introduced in December that included a requirement that foreigners who are not permanent residents pay an additional stamp duty equal to 10 per cent of the property value.

Excluding executive condominiums, a category of apartments reserved primarily for Singaporeans, 1,872 homes were sold in January – the highest since November 2010 and up from 632 in December.

"Evidently the ABSD (additional buyer's stamp duty) in December were ineffective in reining in demand for mass market properties. Hence, more cooling measures may be introduced," Royal Bank of Scotland said in a report.

The sharp rebound in home sales in January was mainly due to several large mass market developments that attracted buyers, analysts said.

The best-selling project, the Watertown in northeastern Singapore, sold 770 units. Watertown's developer is a joint venture that includes Far East Organisation and Frasers Centrepoint, the property arm of conglomerate Fraser and Neave Ltd.

"Analysis of January's sales data highlights the existing residual demand, especially for mass market projects, as Singaporean buyers continue to purchase new homes as they are launched," said Chua Yang Liang, head of research for Southeast Asia at Jones Lang LaSalle.


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