Global Real Estate: Singapore Market Slows

A breakdown of the Singapore housing market. Good news: It’s still considered a safe haven for growth and wealth preservation.

Singapore is a highly developed market economy known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, most dynamic, and most business-friendly in the world. Singapore is home to nearly 5.6 million residents, 40% of whom are foreign nationals, and is culturally diverse with four official languages English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil.

Despite the uncertain economic outlook caused mainly by the USA and China conflict and the latest cooling measures introduced by the government, Singapore real estate is still seen as a safe haven for growth and wealth preservation. Figures released by The Urban Redevelopment Authority, based on a survey of licensed developers, show that in the last quarter of 2019, private home sales and public-private home sales were down 25% over the previous quarter.

According to the head of research at Colliers International, there are 4,650 private homes launched by developers that are still unsold. In a report by leading estate agency Orange-Tee and Tie, resale transactions have slowed, and owners in the suburbs and city fringe areas have lowered asking prices in the face of competition from new launches.

The Singapore Business Review has reported that the slowing real estate market has claimed 11 casualties over the last two years amongst the 55 largest real estate companies that they ranked in their survey of real estate agencies done in 2017. Some real estate companies have closed, including Century 21’s GAP, that announced this year that PropNex Realty would absorb their 400 agents. They had 623 agents in the 2017 rankings. Two other companies in the top 10 have been involved in significant mergers, namely Orange-Tee and Tie and SLP Scotia. The former now has 4,250 agents and the latter nearly 400 agents. Surprisingly, even as the number of agencies has dropped, the total number of agents has risen, a sign that consolidation is happening, resulting in the average number of agents per agency increasing from 415 in 2017 to 667 in 2019.

The largest agency in Singapore is PropNex Realty, with nearly 8,000 real estate agents followed by ERA Realty Network with almost 7,000 agents. Hector Tan, head of marketing and communications at Hutton’s, is quoted by The Business Review as stating, “The market is challenging for agencies and salespersons, and with tech disruption and more regulation happening, it’s natural to see the market consolidating.” The use of data analytics and market intelligence is playing a significant role in the growth of the top agencies in Singapore, the same as is happening in North America. Companies like ERA and Huttons Asia PTE have introduced a wide range of lead generation and AI tools over the last 12 months to support their agents