iProperty.com Survey Reveals Cautiously Optimistic Market Sentiment

SINGAPORE, September 23, 2008 – The iProperty.com Group (www.iProperty.com), Asia’s leading network of property portals and owner of Singapore’s No. 1 property and real estate website, iProperty.com Singapore (www.iProperty.com.sg), today unveiled the results of its online Asia Property Trends Survey 2008.  The Survey revealed the buying habits and trends of close to 1,000 local and overseas property buyers who visited iProperty.com’s Singapore website, www.iProperty.com.sg, between August 1 and August 31, 2008.

Given the uncertain economic outlook, respondents’ expectations with regards to Singapore property prices was mixed, with 42% expecting prices to increase and almost the same number (41%) expecting prices to decrease. However, most respondents still viewed property as an attractive investment option with the potential profit from capital appreciation, passive rental generation as well as the solid and safe nature of property investments as the top three factors for investing in property.

With the boom in the property market which began in 2006 and subsequent sky-rocketing prices till early this year, it was no surprise that a majority of respondents had not purchased property within the last 24 months. However, the recent stabilisation in property prices has resulted in improved consumer sentiment with almost 85% indicating that they intend to or may purchase property within the next 12 months. To finance their property, a majority (73%) were looking for a high margin of financing in the 60-99% range, likely to be attributable to the attractive bank loan packages currently available.

Residential properties were top on respondents’ wish list, especially completed private condominiums and landed property. Whether respondents were looking to purchase property for personal use (46%) or for investment purposes (48%), it was clear that the old adage “location, location, location” was the top most factor when considering a property. Coming in second and third were price and potential rental yield respectively. Given that location was such a significant factor in the decision-making process, it was no surprise that 70% of respondents were found to only want to buy a property after physically inspecting it. 

In addition, 54% of respondents indicated that they wanted to purchase their next property in Singapore. This was a significant fall from last year’s results which saw local property interest at a high of 78%. This implies that overseas property investments are becoming increasingly attractive to Singapore property hunters.

The survey also reiterated the growing importance of the Internet (54%) versus more traditional mediums such as newspaper classifieds (26%) as the primary means of searching for properties. 54% of respondents also indicated that they relied on the internet most for updates on properties for sale. A growing number of people were also found to use the internet to research for property market trends and gather more information about property developers. The time-savings offered (27%) and ease of use (30.5%) were found to be the top reasons for online property searches.

Patrick Grove, Executive Chairman of the iProperty.com Group said, “The internet is fast becoming the most preferred way for people to begin their initial search for properties. It is very useful for people who are looking to shortlist a few properties before making a trip down to visit the actual site.  The Google Map function and virtual tours available on iProperty.com websites also helps give property buyers a better perspective of where the property is located and what it looks like. Another distinct advantage of the Internet is that it also allows investors to view overseas properties without having to leave the country.” 

In line with the slowing down of the economy, a majority of respondents were looking at properties below the US$500,000 (S$700,000) price range, with 48% looking for property within the range of US$110,000 (S$154,000) to US$500,000 (S$700,000). 

“Even though people are keen on investing in property, we can see that the bearish economic outlook has resulted in investors looking at more conservative property choices. The abolishment of the deferred payment scheme also places limitations on the types of properties people can now afford to purchase,” Grove added.