Property crash of 1996

I’m not sure if anyone still remembers the previous property crash of 1996 where prices of properties tumbled over 40% from the 2nd quarter of 1996 to the 4th quarter of 1998. Going by the euphoria sweeping the market and the tendency for people to forget, the bad memories of this crash are probably distant by now.

I found an excellent chart on the private residential property price index on Singapore Real Estate Info here that gives a graphical representation and the significant news and measures taken by the government from 1960 until 2010.

(Taken from

Back then at the peak of the market, the property news that made it to the papers were of the following;

  • Enbloc sales being carried out or being proposed at private estates
  • Record sale prices by developers
  • Buyers queuing overnight with long queue lines at launches
  • Influx of foreigners buying properties
  • Flipping of properties to get rich

The government tried to stem this bubble by introducing more land sales to increase the supply and to show that there is adequate land to meet the demand. When that fails, more drastic measures were introduced such as;

  • Housing loans limited to 80% for property purchase
  • Tax on gains from the sale of properties bought within 3 years
  • Additional stamp duty within 3 years of purchase of properties for sellers
  • Stamp duty for buyers of sales and sub-sales of uncompleted properties
  • Foreigners not allowed to take housing loans
  • Permanent residents limited to one housing loan

The property market started to head south and with the impact of the Asian Financial Crisis acting as the catalyst, the housing bubble burst and the property market crashed.

Fast forward 14 years later to the current state, the property news that are making to the papers now are generally the same as in the past though the property market now is not as hot as it was back then. Similarly, it is also seen that the government has introduced an increase in land sales to meet the demand and HDB will also be ramping up its flat supply. Measures to counter speculation have also been introduced though they are not as draconian as in the past. To me, it seems like history is going one full circle in a milder manner though. So the question is where will the market head to from now ? That is something for you to think about.

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