The Covid-19 Pandemic sent economies and markets around the globe into a downward spiral, and while industries like tourism and hospitality were hit the hardest, the real estate industry did not emerge unscathed either.
The circuit breaker measures only served to exacerbate the issue, with prospective home buyers being unable to attend physical home viewings due to the stringent social distancing measures.
The property market came to a jarring halt in April 2020 and many held their breath as they prepared to watch housing prices plunge to levels unheard of since the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.
Surprisingly enough, that never came to pass.
Singapore’s property market proved to be remarkably buoyant and kept its head above water, a result that could largely be credited to the concerted effort between the government and the real estate industry to mitigate the effects of the downturn.
Government intervention in the form of stimulus packages and the loan repayment moratorium in October 2020 ensured Singaporeans remained solvent in the troubling economic conditions.
Amidst a wave of unemployment, this was crucial in preventing the rampant distress sale of houses and kept prices from seeing a drastic dip.
The real estate industry successfully adapted itself to the adverse circumstances as well by capitalizing on technology to kickstart productivity after a brief initial lull period. The aforementioned disruptions to physical showrooms were circumvented by the use of virtual ones, and other aspects of the house purchase process were digitalised as well.
Take for example how balloting and unit selection, which previously necessitated the physical presence of buyers at the showflats, are now allowed to be executed remotely. This evolution of the process represents more than just the versatility of the industry; it also hints at the direction it is taking in the near future and that these changes are here to stay.
The healthy demand for properties in the timeframe immediately after the circuit breaker period also helped to reinvigorate the property market. With an effective vaccine on the horizon and a positive economic sentiment for Singapore’s recovery, house buyers and property developers alike were eager to return to purchasing residential properties and land.
Low interest rates served as the proverbial icing on the cake, spurring demand up even further alongside the implementation of incentives.
Singapore’s admirable efforts to deal with the pandemic also substantiated our reputation as a reliable partner and attracted more foreign direct investments into real estate from foreign individuals and corporations.
Perhaps the increased time spent at home due to the sudden influx of flexible Work From Home(WFM) arrangements contributed to the spike in demand for housing as well.
Families were able to re-assess their priorities and pinpoint their needs for a house be it a long-awaited upsize or shifting to a quieter location to facilitate those now ubiquitous Zoom meetings. Career minded individuals who had been putting off moving due to their packed schedules now had ample time to attend virtual showflats at their convenience.
The pandemic triggered a bizarre and sudden shift in our definition of a house — from a safe haven you retreated to after a long day out; to an office, school, playground and gym all rolled into one.
*Special thanks to the author, Mr Jeremy Ng*