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What’s Needed For Singapore To Lift Those Cooling Measures?

Posted by Jayson Ang on February 2, 2024
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Well, isn’t it great to see someone finally relaxing their real estate restrictions!

But alas, it’s not us. Nope, it’s happening over in Hong Kong, where they’ve just cut the additional property taxes for foreigners from a whopping 15% down to a more manageable 7.5%.

Fun fact, folks in Hong Kong call these taxes “spicy measures”. Meanwhile, we coolly refer to them as cooling measures. I’d say we win that round, because if you’re going to shake up your real estate market, wouldn’t you rather do it with a ‘chill’ nickname than one that screams discomfort?

But then again, Hong Kong’s in a different ball game than us. With China working hard to boost confidence in its property market and Hong Kong still dusting itself off from political protests and the Covid-19 impact, pulling in investors seems like a smart move.

This has raised some eyebrows back home in Singapore though. For years, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia have been the go-to locations for foreign real estate investment. In recent times, Singapore took the lead, thanks to Hong Kong’s hiccups; plus, Chinese property investors feel a cultural draw to Hong Kong and Singapore. But let’s take a moment to assess our current position:

With a 60 per cent ABSD for foreigners, Singapore now boasts the highest stamp duty rates for non-residents. We’re also bracing ourselves for an increase in compliance issues, especially within banks and real estate firms dealing with foreigners. And we can thank the bad apples who tried to funnel more cash through our real estate market than the GDP of some small countries for that!

Some property agents, and even mortgage brokers, are starting to whisper that we’re “handing over” business to Hong Kong. With a 60% Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD), it’s quite possible we might lose a few foreign investors to other places, including Australia.

But honestly, I don’t think it’s that bad.

Firstly, Singapore has largely stayed out of international conflicts, like those between the US or Australia and China. Most would agree that we hold a beautifully neutral position, except for the occasional grumpy old fella at the local café who gets a bit prejudiced after a few beers. We also have a unique culture that somehow resonates with both the East and West.

We’re comfortable enough to share a glass of wine with Americans and Europeans while still enjoying spicy Sichuan cuisine without breaking into a sweat. I really think this is our ace in the hole for drawing in foreign buyers: it’s not just about the numbers, but our global-minded culture that brings us together where statistics can’t.

Still, it’s going to be intriguing to see if Hong Kong’s easing of restrictions will boost their property market – and what kind of impact that might have. This is especially interesting since rules here in Singapore have only gotten stricter, with very few instances of relaxation (the only one I can recall is some improvement in the Seller’s Stamp Duty).

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if our ABSD rules were ever loosened up a bit.

Hey, Guess What? We Share A Surprising Commonality With Hong Kong – Pesky Car Park Issues!

You’ve likely heard the chatter about how parking lots in Hong Kong can cost more than a house. With limited space for cars, just like here in Singapore, the thought of your parking spot being a 20-minute walk from your home is a real downer, right?

Lately, we’re seeing similar property and parking problems popping up in our little red dot. Remember back in 2019 when LTA allowed developers to design properties with fewer car park slots?

Now, condos in CBD areas or within a stone’s throw of an MRT station can reduce their car park allotments. This means no visitor parking for some spots and a real headache for families with multiple cars. However, it does add a touch of charm to older resale condos.

Take a good look at projects from the ’90s and earlier. You’ll find many with two parking spaces per unit. Space wasn’t such a luxury then!

So, if we’re serious about pushing a car-lite society in Singapore, maybe real estate holds the answer. It could be as effective as the COE system. I reckon the government should take a leap of faith and encourage developers to build condos or HDB blocks with fewer parking spaces. These could be cheaper due to lower construction costs associated with underground or multi-story car parks.

This might lead us down a path similar to Hong Kong and Shanghai, where each unit doesn’t include a car park space. Instead, you’d have to buy your car park slot separately.

But would anyone bite? I’m betting on yes. Imagine getting an extra room, freehold status, or a centrally located unit just by sacrificing a car. Considering how expensive cars are these days, I reckon more and more Singaporeans might be open to this trade-off.

Should You Buy, Sell or Wait?

If you’re reading this, you must be trying to figure out the best course of action right now: is it the right time to buy or sell?

It’s difficult to give an exact answer since everyone’s situation is unique and what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.

I can bring you a wealth of on-the-ground experience and a data-driven approach to provide clarity and direction. From beginners to experienced investors, our top-down, objective approach will help you on your real estate journey.

I can help you by:

  1. Offering Strategic Real Estate Advice – I can help create a comprehensive plan to guide you through your property journey.
  2. Connecting Your Home with the Perfect Buyers – Through stunning visuals, an effective communication strategy, and an in-depth knowledge of the market, we’ll ensure your home is presented in the best possible way to fulfill your goals.

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