The government’s slew of further tightening measures will have a major impact on the public housing market, said analysts.
The policies which took effect on Saturday include an additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) on permanent residents (PRs) buying their first residential property and on Singaporeans purchasing their second residential property, as well as tighter eligibility for loans to buy HDB flats and requirements for owner-occupation by PR buyers.
The news comes hot on the heels of HDB’s flash estimates which revealed that resale flat prices grew by 2.5 percent in the last quarter of 2012, their fastest pace for the year.
“It is evident that the latest cooling measures is to moderate the housing prices and instill greater prudence in financing HDB flat,” said Mohamed Ismail, Chief Executive of PropNex Realty.
He noted that the revised ABSD will impact the PR segment most. “PRs will now have to raise an additional five percent cash outlay to pay for the ABSD in their purchase of the first resale flat.”
According to Ismail, as PRs make up about 20 percent of the HDB resale market, demand for such units are likely to ease in the coming months.
Moreover, PRs who could only borrow from financial institutions for the purchase of resale HDB flats are now going to be restricted by the Mortgage Servicing Ratios (MSRs) for loans.
Ismail believes this will greatly reduce the quantum that they can borrow as the ratio is now being reduced to 30 percent of the borrower’s gross monthly income (originally 40 percent of the borrower’s gross monthly income).
PRs will also be barred from subletting and must sell their flat within six months of purchasing a private residential property. Currently, PRs own 49,190 out of the one million HDB flats and the 2,142 PR rented flats form about five percent of all approved flats for sublet.
“Overall the new cooling measures will result in lowering the COVs (cash-over-valuations) as buyers will have to contend with lower MSR for all Singapore citizens and Singapore PRs and the new seven percent ABSD for PRs. The COVs for bigger flats (i.e. 5-room and Executive flat category) will witness a sharper drop by 30 percent immediately. The current median COV for 5-room and Executive flats have been around S$40,000 to S$50,000. This lower COV may encourage some first-timers to enter the resale market.”
“Overall, median resale prices of HDB this year will substantially slow down from the hay days of double digit growth in 2010 and 2011 and six percent growth in 2012. This year, we expect HDB prices to remain flat and at best attaining only a one to two percent growth in keeping pace with the economic growth,” Ismail added.