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Singapore Home Prices Rise Despite Cooling Measures

SINGAPORE, July 28 (Reuters) - Singapore's private home prices rose 3.1% in the first half of the year, official data showed on Friday, bucking a downward trend in global property markets and resisting government measures to cool the red-hot market and rising living costs.

Real estate prices in the second quarter dipped just 0.2%, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed, even after the government doubled stamp duties for foreigners to an eye-watering 60% in April.

The tightening was the latest in a series of attempts to tame runaway prices that have stirred discontent among residents of one of the world's most expensive cities.

Unlike in Britain or New Zealand, where house prices have slumped under the weight of high interest rates, Singapore's property market remained resilient through and after the COVID-19 pandemic, with private home prices surging 10.6% in 2021 and 8.6% in 2022.

Though prices are now rising at a slower pace than in recent years, buyers are still shelling out about S$3,000 ($2,252) per square foot for private apartments in the central region of the highly urbanised city-state, according to research firm OrangeTee & Tie.

Many are hoping to cash in on the lucrative sector.

Donald Lin, 39, gave up a high-paying job in banking to become a real estate agent in late 2020, a move that gave him a 300% boost in annual income.

"Property prices in Singapore are only one-way up in general. You may see a short-term drop during a crisis but surely it will bounce up high," said Lin, who had spent 11 years in banking.

In 2022, the number of people applying for the qualifying exam to become a realtor more than doubled to 20,000 from pre-pandemic 2019, according to the Council for Estate Agencies.

Though property prices remained elevated, analysts do not expect the government to roll out more dampening measures, especially when rising interest rates are helping to curb some demand.

"Demand and prices have started to show some signs of stabilisation, and this is in line with the government's aim," said Christine Sun, senior vice president of research & analytics at OrangeTee & Tie.

($1 = 1.3323 Singapore dollars)

Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Kim Coghill

Source: Reuters

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