Singapore has implemented new property cooling measures to promote a sustainable property market, according to a joint press statement released by the Ministry of National Development, Ministry of Finance, and Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Effective from April 27, foreign buyers of any residential property will have to pay double the prevailing Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) rates, with the rate increased from 30% to 60% of the purchase price.
Meanwhile, Singaporeans buying their second residential property will have to pay a 20% ABSD, up from 17%, while permanent residents purchasing their second home will have to pay a 30% ABSD, up from 25%. The ABSD rates for buyers getting their first residential property will remain at 0% for Singaporeans and 5% for permanent residents.
The government has also kept the ABSD policy unchanged for those buying a Housing and Development Board (HDB) flat or executive condominium unit from property developers with an upfront remission, if any of the joint buyers is a Singaporean.
The latest ABSD increase marks the third cooling measure since December 2021, when the ABSD for Singaporeans buying their second residential property was raised from 12% to 17% of the property price. In September 2022, the government introduced stricter borrowing criteria and tighter limits for HDB home loans.
Despite these measures, property prices in the first quarter of 2023 showed renewed signs of acceleration amid resilient demand. Based on official flash estimates released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, private home prices increased by 3.2% in the first quarter of the year, compared to a 0.4% increase in the previous quarter.
The government warns that if left unchecked, prices could run ahead of economic fundamentals, with the risk of a sustained increase in prices relative to incomes. Therefore, moderating investment demand in property will complement the government’s efforts to ramp up supply to alleviate the tight housing market for both home-ownership and rental.
The government has also introduced a transitional provision for property bought on or before April 26, 2023, provided that certain conditions are met. These conditions include the option to purchase agreement being granted by sellers to potential buyers on or before April 26, 2023, and the agreement being exercised on or before May 17, 2023, or within the document’s validity period, whichever is earlier.
Overall, the new property cooling measures aim to promote a sustainable property market and prevent property prices from exceeding economic fundamentals.
The new property cooling measures is expected to have the most impact on higher-end projects in the core central region, as foreign buyers make up only a small proportion of private home sales in Singapore.
While the measures will dampen demand for investment properties, it is unlikely that prices will ease by much. This is because the ABSD hikes target only a minority of buyers, and there is a low number of unsold units in the market.
However, prices are likely to moderate for a few months, benefitting owner-occupiers and first-time buyers. Singapore citizens and permanent resident first-time buyers are expected to be the key demand drivers in the months ahead.
Overall, the new measures are aimed at promoting a sustainable property market and preventing a sustained increase in property prices relative to incomes.
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