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Singapore has 24,000 empty apartments (and 44,000 more on the way)

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IN tiny Singapore, where you can drive the length of the island in under two hours, there are 24,000 vacant apartments.

If that sounds like a lot of lost rent, consider that on top of that, there are another 44,000 units in the pipeline, including 39,000 unsold apartments from government land sales and en-bloc sites, and 5,000 units from sites that are pending planning approval.

The gross oversupply — at a time of weak demand — prompted the government on Thursday to cut the supply of private residential units under its land sales program. Now the supply of private housing in the second half, excluding executive condominiums, will be 1,235 units, down 25% from 1,640 units in the first six months.

“The confirmed list supply of 2,875 private residential units for the whole of 2019 is the lowest annual quantum since 2014,” said Ong Teck Hui, a senior director at Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. That’s “appropriate given the increasingly bearish economic and business outlook,” he said.

The moves to limit supply won applause from investors, who sent the FTSE Straits Times Real Estate Investment Trust Index up 2%, the most since August 2015, to the highest in more than six years.

At least the property curbs that Singapore introduced almost a year ago to cool the market appear to have well and truly taken effect. — Bloomberg