Asia-Pacific News

Singapore relaxes some property curbs

A Singapore public housing estate
Getty Images

After repeated rounds of property and loan curbs since 2009 to prevent a bubble in Singapore, the city state's authorities announced Friday some measures will be scaled back, including the waiting period for sales without stamp duties as demand slows and prices stagnate.

Among changes announced is the reduction in the minimum holding period before the seller's stamp duty kicks in. Owners currently have to hold onto their residential properties for four years before being taxed for selling the homes, but this will be reduced to three years.

The joint statement issued by Singapore's Ministry of Finance, Ministry of National Development and Monetary Authority of Singapore also said seller's stamp duty rate will be lowered by four percentage points for each tier.

The total debt servicing ratio framework, which limits one's total borrowing to 60 percent of his or her gross monthly income, will no longer be applied to mortgage equity withdrawal loans with loan-to-value ratios of 50 percent and below.

That would allow borrowers some flexibility in monetizing their properties in their retirement years, the statement said.

Property counters on the Singapore Exchange rose following the announcement. CapitaLand, Southeast Asia's largest developer, rose 4.8 percent, while City Developments Ltd rose 7.4 percent at 1:40pm SIN/HK.

Property prices in the city state rose 60 percent during the post-crisis period of 2009 to 2013 before transaction volume and prices started slowing down. Property industry players have repeated called on the government to review the measures in place as declining demand are affecting their livelihood.

In the statement on Friday, the government said that other than the "calibrated adjustments", the current set of property curbs "remain necessary to promote a sustainable residential property market and financial prudence among households."

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