In the sign that Singapore property prices are getting extremely ‘hot’, the government has since introduced many rounds of property cooling measures since 14 September 2009. Most of them are targeted on Residential properties. Commercial properties are still largely “untouched” at this moment. These cooling measures are affecting Singaporean, PR and foreigners alike although at different weight.
Below is the brief summary of Singapore property cooling measures that are in place currently:
The Total Debt Servicing Ratio framework is the latest rule enforced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). In short, this framework is a set of rules that restrict financial institutions from lending to an individual if his outstanding debt repayments (any debt, not only linked to property) exceed 60% of his gross income (including the potential new loan). The interest rate used for calculation of the new loan is 3.5% or the actual interest rate, whichever is higher.
Guarantors must not exceed the TDSR threshold as well.
Loan Tenure limit
Tenures of loans granted by financial institutions regulated by the MAS are limited to 35 years.
In case of co-borrowers, the income-weighted average age will be used, i.e. assuming Mr A (40) who earns $3,000 monthly and Mr B (30) who earns $2,000 apply for a loan, their income-weighted average age will be 36.
Loan-To-Value (LTV) limits
The LTV limit is the maximum percentage of the purchase price (price agreed upon between buyer and seller) or valuation price (given by the bank), whichever is lower, that can be borrowed from the bank.
- 80% if you do not have any other outstanding loan. If you are a foreigner without PR status, some banks might cap at 70% or even 60%;
- 50% if you have one outstanding loan;
- 40% if you have two or more outstanding loans or if you are buying under a company.
If your loan tenure is more than 30 years or the loan period would go beyond the retirement age of 65, these limits are lowered to:
- 60% if you do not have any other outstanding loan;
- 30% if you have one outstanding loan;
- 20% if you have two or more outstanding loans or if you are buying under a company.
The borrower must be the same person than the one purchasing the property.
Minimum Cash Down Payment
The remaining amount (from the LTV above) that cannot be borrowed from the bank has to be paid in cash or can come from a CPF ordinary account (mandatory saving account for Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents). However, there is a minimum percentage of the purchase price or valuation price, whichever is lower, that has to be paid in cash:
- 5% cash for a LTV of 80%;
- 10% cash for a LTV of 60%;
- 25% cash in all other cases.
Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD)
Anybody buying a residental property in Singapore is required to pay stamp duties (i.e. a tax) equivalent to roughly 3% of the purchase price or valuation price, whichever is higher. To cool the market, the government introduced an addtional stamp duty (the ABSD) which varies according to your immigration status:
- If you are a Singapore citizen, the ABSD is 0%/7%/10% if you are buying your first/second/third or subsequent property respectively.
- If you are a Singapore Permanent Resident, the ABSD is 5%/10% if you are buying your first/second or subsequent property respectively.
- If you are a foreigner (living in Singapore or not) or buying under a company, the ABSD is 15% if you are buying your first or subsequent property.
Purchases by more than one individual will be subject to the highest applicable ABSD (some exemptions apply – see below).
Find out how does Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) affects property purchases made by Singaporean, Singapore Permanent Residents and Foreigners here. Please note that ABSD is applicable only on residential property. It doesn’t affect commercial and industrial property transactions.
Seller Stamp Duty (SSD)
To reign in speculation, sellers are required to pay a Seller Stamp Duty, which is a percentage of the selling price or valuation price, whichever is higher.
If you purchased your property between 30 August 2010 and 13 January 2011, the SSD rate is about 1%.
If you purchased your property on or after 14 January 2011, the SSD rates are the following:
- If you sell less than 1 year after purchase: 16%;
- If you sell between 1 year and 2 years after purchase: 12%;
- If you sell between 2 and 3 years after purchase: 8%;
- If you sell between 3 and 4 years after purchase: 4%.
Restrictions regarding Public Housing
Housing sponsored by the government (HDB flats) have extra restrictions:
- The Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR), i.e. percentage of income that can pay for the loan, is capped at:
- 30% if the loan is granted by a private institution such as a bank
- 35% if the loan is granted by the HDB
- Permanent Residents are not allowed to rent out their entire unit (which requires approval from the HDB);
- Permanent Residents who own a HDB flat must sell their flat within 6 months of purchasing a private residential property in Singapore.
Exemptions and Reliefs
If you own a residential property in Singapore, you are not subject to these limits when you obtain a housing loan for the purchase of a property which is an Executive Condominium (EC) purchased directly from a property developer or a HDB flat (which requires you to dispose of your previous flat)
- Nationals from the USA, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein are exempted from paying the ABSD for foreigners. The ABSD rule applying to them is the same than Singapore citizens.
- Married couples with at least 1 Singapore citizen will be exempted from paying the ABSD if:
- None of them already owns a property;
- They agree to dispose of their existing property within 6 months of the purchase of their new property (or the TOP if the new property is uncompleted).
You may read summary of all the cooling measures released since 2009 from the link below: