Monday, August 30, 2010

Singapore's Government measures to cool property market on 30 August 2010

1) The Government announced today the following measures to maintain a stable and sustainable property market:

a) Increase the holding period for imposition of Seller's Stamp Duty (SSD) from the current one year to three years.

b) For property buyers who already have one or more outstanding housing loans at the time of the new housing purchase:

i. Increase the minimum cash payment from 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the valuation limit; and

ii. Decrease the Loan-to-Value (LTV) limit for housing loans granted by financial institutions regulated by  MAS to these buyers from the current 80 per cent to 70 per cent.

The measures will take immediate effect on 30 Aug, 2010.

2) The Government's objective is to ensure a stable and sustainable property market where prices move in line with economic fundamentals. The property market is currently very buoyant. While the rate of price increase of private residential properties has moderated in the last three quarters, prices have still increased significantly by 11 per cent in the first half of 2010, and price levels have now exceeded the historical peak in the second quarter of 1996.

3) While Singapore has enjoyed strong economic growth in the first half of 2010, our economic growth is expected to moderate in the second half of the year. There are also still uncertainties in the global economy. Should economic growth falter and the market corrects, property buyers could face capital losses, with implications on their own finances and the economy as a whole.

Moreover, the current low global interest rate environment will not continue indefinitely, and higher interest rates could have severe implications for buyers who have overextended themselves. Therefore, the Government has decided to introduce additional measures now to temper sentiments and encourage greater financial prudence among property purchasers.

4) The Government imposed in February 2010 a seller's stamp duty (SSD) for sellers who buy residential properties on or after 20 Feb 2010 and sell them within a year of purchase.

5) For residential properties bought on or after 30 Aug 2010, SSD will be imposed if these properties are sold within three years of purchase. Specifically, the SSD levied on residential properties will be revised to as follows:

a) Sold within the first year of purchase, ie the property is held for one year or less from its purchase date - The full SSD rate (1 per cent for the first $180,000 of the consideration, 2 per cent for the next $180,000, and 3 per cent for the balance) will be imposed.

b) Sold within the second year of purchase, ie the property is held for more than one year and up to two years - 2/3 of the full SSD rate. c) Sold within the third year of purchase, ie the property is held for more than two years and up to three years - 1/3 of the full SSD rate.

No SSD will be payable by the vendor if the property is sold more than three years after it was bought.

6) The extended SSD will not affect HDB lessees as the required Minimum Occupation Period for HDB flats is at least three years.

7) Iras will be releasing an updated e-tax guide on the circumstances under which SSD will apply and the procedures for paying SSD. The e-tax guide will be available at www.iras.gov.sg. Taxpayers with enquiries may call Iras at 6351 3697 or 6351 3698.

8) Previously, property buyers have to make cash payment of at least 5 per cent of the valuation limit. With effect from 30 Aug 2010, the cash payment is increased from 5 per cent to 10 per cent of the valuation limit. This measure is applied only to buyers of private residential properties,

Executive Condominiums, HUDC flats and HDB flats (including those under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme, or DBSS flats) who are taking housing loans from financial institutions regulated by MAS and who already have one or more outstanding housing loans at the time of applying for a housing loan for the new property purchase.

9) The LTV limit is lowered from 80 per cent to 70 per cent with effect from 30 Aug 2010 for borrowers who have one or more outstanding housing loans (whether from HDB or a financial institution regulated by MAS) at the time of applying for a housing loan for the new property purchase. Borrowers who do not have any outstanding housing loans continue to have an LTV cap of 80 per cent. These rules apply to housing loans granted by financial institutions for private residential properties, Executive Condominiums, HUDC flats and HDB flats (including DBSS flats).

10) Loans granted by HDB for HDB flats (including DBSS flats) will still have an LTV cap of 90 per cent. HDB loans are offered to eligible first-time flat buyers and second-timers who are right-sizing their flats to meet their housing needs. They are required to utilise all of their CPF Ordinary Account balance before HDB loans will be granted.

Furthermore, those taking a second concessionary HDB loan must use the CPF refund and 50 per cent of the cash proceeds from the sale of their previous flat before they are granted an HDB loan.

This is in line with HDB's home ownership policy of helping eligible buyers, especially first-time buyers, purchase public housing in a financially prudent manner.

11)Financial institutions' lending standards have remained prudent and the asset quality of housing loans has stayed robust, with the non-performing loans ratio at less than 1 per cent as at Q2 2010.

Nonetheless, there are signs that more housing loans are originating at higher LTV bands of above 70 per cent. In line with the objective of ensuring a stable and sustainable property market, lowering the LTV limit sends a clear signal to financial institutions to maintain credit standards, and encourages greater financial prudence among property purchasers already servicing one or more outstanding housing loans.

12) The Government will also continue to ensure that there is adequate supply of housing to meet demand. In the second half 2010 GLS Programme, we have made available sites that can yield about 13,900 private housing units, of which about 8,100 units will be from sites on the Confirmed List.

This is the highest potential supply quantum in the history of the GLS Programme. We will inject an even larger supply of private housing in the first half 2011 GLS Programme, if demand continues to be strong.

13) Apart from the supply from the GLS Programme, there are also 61,800 uncompleted units of private housing from projects in the pipeline as at 2Q20109. Of these, 32,600 units were available or could be made available for sale. These comprised units that had been launched for sale by developers, units that had pre-requisite

14) The Government will continue to monitor the property market closely and will introduce additional measures if required later, to promote a stable and sustainable property market.

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