#real estate singapore
The government of Singapore plays a strong interventionist role throughout the society, including all segments of the real estate market. Singapore is an island city-state, and urban planning as well as land sales are tightly controlled aspects of government policy.
Essentially all aspects of the built environment in Singapore have at least their roots in the urban planning and land use policies of the government. Singapore has had an official land use blueprint called the Concept Plan since 1971. It is revised every ten years. The last full revision was in 1991 and the review process for the 2001 Concept Plan is already well under way. The 1991 review was based on a population of 4 million people. Singapore’s population is already at 3.9 million, so the 2001 review is assuming a 5 million-plus population during the next decade.
The residential built environment in Singapore is almost entirely the product of government construction efforts. This was a dramatic necessity to improve the conditions of the sprawl of shanty-like dwellings that existed after independence and before the current strength of the Singaporean economy had been achieved.
Singapore’s planners have the advantage that 90% of the country’s citizens own their homes. The Housing and Development Board (discussed below) subsidizes sales to encourage owner occupancy, as well as having constructed 86% of the residential units occupied by the country’s citizens. The government also allows citizens to borrow from the centralized pension system for home purchase, another incentive that has helped push the percentage of owner-occupiers to such high levels. There are active efforts that will be continued with the 2001 Concept Plan to renovate not just the older residential units (primarily multifamily) but towns, neighborhoods, retail and other commercial spaces, as well as pedestrian, cycling, car, and public transport infrastructure. Another infrastructure project in Singapore is the creation of a nationwide broadband high-speed cable network called Singapore ONE. The aim is to bring high-speed Internet access into every home, office, school, and factory in the country. Singapore ONE is projected for completion during 2000. 1
The sale of land for development is strictly controlled by the Singaporean government. The amount of land that will be released for development is announced annually. For the year 2000, this occurred in September 1999, when the government made public its decision that land for 7,000-9,000 new housing units would be made available in 2000. The government also specifies the housing type through its choice of land tracts to release. In 2000, the majority of units entering development will be mid-priced units, while a quarter to a third will be high-end units. Only one site will be released for commercial development in 2000 due to the continuing oversupply in that market segment. There have been two changes in this annual process of land release and development. First, developers are now allowed a longer period to complete development of private projects on released state land sites, up to 6 years from 2000 onwards. Second, the government has decided to review its program of land sales at mid-year in order to give itself greater leeway in responding to market conditions, especially speculative bubbles or sudden drops in demand. 2
Real estate salespeople in Singapore are required by the national government to be licensed before carrying out a real estate transaction. There is no requirement for periodic training to maintain the license once it has been obtained.