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SG Haze: Property viewings cancelled

Property Here - Friday, June 21, 2013

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The on-going haze situation in Singapore is having a detrimental effect on the real estate industry, with many agents reporting cancelled viewings and a lack of new enquiries.

Agents contacted by PropertyGuru on Thursday and Friday also reported a signficantly low turnout of visitors at showflats, as the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reached a record high of 401 at noon of Friday lunchtime – classifying air quality in the city-state into the “hazardous” range.

Singapore has been blanketed by haze for most of the week as a result of forest fires in nearby Sumatra, Indonesia.

Evan Chung, Assistant Vice President of Resale Division for DTZ, told PropertyGuru: "Undeniably the haze has impacted viewings and show flat visits, however there are still a handful of clients who've chosen to defy the record high PSI and proceed with viewings.

"True enough, discussions through the viewings have proven that these are indeed a group of serious buyers, not wanting to miss out on a potential unit. Nonetheless, many came armed with N95 masks and an obvious disdain on the issue of transnational air pollution."

Ella Sherman of Premiere Realty echoed the experiences of many agents over the past few days.

She said: “All my viewings scheduled for this weekend have been cancelled, and my phone hasn't rung since the haze began. This makes me worry about paying my mortgage this month.”

Sherman added: “This terrible haze is negatively impacting business as well as health, and a cause of lots of worry. Undoubtedly it’s an environmental disaster and big setback for Singapore business.” 

Jason Lim of Vestor Realty added: “I’m not sure if it’s because of the haze, but my phone has been silent since yesterday morning.”

Mohd Ismail, Chief Executive Officer of PropNex Realty, said that his company is constantly monitoring the situation. 

He said: “Despite the poor air quality, I still see hardworking individuals, some with their face masks on, making their way to meet their clients. For most of us, we cannot afford for things to come to a standstill — business is as usual despite that hazy situation. 

“As health risk increases, the number of people taking medical leave may increase; especially those with existing respiratory problems who may not be able to perform optimally as before. To counter this, we have advised our people to take extra care especially when they need to be outdoors for long periods of time.  

“Whilst livelihoods of some may be affected, I believe that if we help one another, we will make it through this period. We have come a long way as a company, overcoming various challenges such as the SARS in 2003, the dengue outbreak, the economic crisis in 2008 and come what may; this haze is will be something that we can also overcome eventually. 

“(We) will make necessary recommendations to our salespersons should the haze situation aggravate further,” added Ismail.

A spokesperson for Jones Lang LaSalle added: “We are closely monitoring the haze situation in Singapore. We have, and will continue to provide on-going guidance to our employees, clients and vendors in line with government recommendations. 

“Whilst the PSI levels remain high we are advising our employees to avoid spending time outdoors, in accordance with official advice, and have made masks available to all of our staff in Singapore. 

“We have advised our agency staff in Singapore that where possible property viewings should be postponed until the haze situation improves. The health and safety of our employees, clients and vendors is our number one priority and we are continuing to monitor PSI levels and follow official government recommendations.”

However, one agent specialising in re-sales reported almost no impact to his level of business, while another said a buyer had lowered his offer as a direct result of the haze.

Are you a real estate agent in Singapore? Email us with your experiences now to andrew@allproperty.com.sg

Andrew Batt, International Group Editor of PropertyGuru, wrote this story. To contact him about this or other stories email andrew@allproperty.com.sg