Speaking at the spring festival celebration of the Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore on Tuesday, she also said: “Prospective property buyers should be mindful of their ability to service mortgage obligations, given the uncertain economic outlook and the protracted recovery in the domestic labour market, before making long-term financial commitments.
“We all have a part to play by continuing to be professional, responsible and prudent, and not stoke exuberant sentiments in the property market. In the long run, a stable property market will benefit all stakeholders.”
Ms Indranee, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Finance, noted that the property market has a direct impact on the lives and aspirations of Singaporeans.
The recovery in global economic activity is expected to be uneven, uncertain and drawn-out. The pandemic continues to evolve, with many countries battling recurrent waves of infection, as well as new and more infectious variants of the virus.
“How the global economic and pandemic situations pan out and the ongoing uncertainties may affect Singapore’s economy, including our labour and property market. So we do have to remain vigilant,” she added.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority’s private home price index rose 2.1 per cent quarter on quarter in Q4 2020, after having risen 0.8 per cent in Q3 2020. Full-year 2020, the index was up 2.2 per cent, following a 2.7 per cent increase in 2019.
The Minister noted that the pandemic is resulting in a relook at how Singapore is planned and built.
She cited the example of many companies adopting flexible work arrangements. “With more people working from home, we can expect changes to their commuting, retail consumption and lifestyle patterns. So sometimes, people ask us: ‘When can we go back to before?’ There is no going back.
“I don’t think we’ll ever go back to quite the way it was before. What’s very likely to happen going forward is that there will be a hybrid, or a new form of working.”
“So some of the changes are short-term, but others are going to be permanent structural shifts, and we have to be responsive. And we cannot do this alone, so we do need the support of the industry and the community.”
In her speech, Ms Indranee also touched on how the pandemic has shown the importance of building resilience, and that Covid-19 can be expected to be around for some time, even amid challenges on other fronts such as climate change. “It is critical that we prepare ourselves and be well-placed to tackle these challenges. Accelerating the transformation of our entire built environment sector to improve productivity is a key part of this.”
She cited the example of enhancing coordination through the use of more digital tools to bring together the entire building life cycle and its various parties, covering design, construction and facilities management from end to end. “This will allow us to build and maintain our city more effectively and sustainably.”
Ms Indranee also referred to Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat’s Budget speech last week, when he shared about the launch of the new Growth and Transformation Scheme for the built-environment sector.
This will require developers to work closely with their consultants, contractors and suppliers to level up as an ecosystem or value chain, given the interconnected nature of construction.
“Developers, of course, play an important role in the overall transformation process. So we do encourage you to continue your research and innovation efforts, promote the adoption of new processes, technology and designs, and collaborate with the other members in the sector.”
Redas president Chia Ngiang Hong, in his speech, said the organisation will continue to work closely with the government and relevant stakeholders to encourage an informed and collaborative approach to advocacy and capacity-building, to support investments in green R&D/innovation and to incentivise mass adoption by developers and their value-chain partners and stakeholders.
“As such solutions are capital-intensive and need time to crystallise, the government’s continued assistance to the built environment is very important and we hope for the understanding and consideration to ‘adjust policies if necessary, to maintain a stable and sustainable property market in the long run’. It is very crucial indeed.
“As developers, we remain concerned about the global economy, which remains fragile and could be a hostage to downside risks…Redas fully supports the need for the property market to remain resilient to economic downturns, property bubbles and external shocks like the pandemic and that ‘prices move in line with the economic fundamentals’.”