Developers call for cooling measures review amid hefty $100m charges
19 Feb 2016 – Real Estate Developers’ Association of Singapore (Redas) President Augustine Tan has urged the government to review the property cooling measures as developers face potential charges of $100 million for unsold private residential units, reported TODAYonline.
“The real estate market is reeling from the compounding effects of an oversupply situation, rising vacancy rates, weak demand and increasing interest rates,” said Tan at the association’s Spring Festival Lunch.
“There is therefore an urgent need for action to bring stability and ensure a soft landing to prevent further damage to the fragile economy,” he added, citing turmoil in financial markets, Singapore’s own restructuring journey and weak global growth as risks to the economy.
As at end-2015, there is a supply of more than 60,000 units in the pipeline and a record 25,000 vacant units, noted Tan, who also serves as Far East Organization’s Executive Director for Property Sales.
Aside from the mounting supply, developers also face pressures from measures like the Qualifying Certificate (QC) and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD).
First introduced in 2011 and revised in 2013, the ABSD is a tax imposed on both developers and individual property buyers.
The amount paid by individuals depends on the number of properties they own and residency status, while developers have to pay 10 to 15 percent of the land cost unless they complete and sell all the units within five years from the date of land acquisition.
Developers with foreign holdings will also have to meet the QC rules, in which they are required to complete the project in five years of acquiring the land and sell all units within the next two years. Those who need more time to meet the requirements can pay extension charges that are pro-rated according to the proportion of unsold units. Land sold on Sentosa Cove and through the Government Land Sales (GLS) Programme do not need QC.
In 2016, Tan estimates that around 700 unsold residential units across 13 developments will be affected by the QC, with charges amounting to almost $100 million.
Moreover, the ABSD remission clawback for projects with unsold units will kick in by end-2016, putting further pressure on prices. He revealed that around 6,000 unsold units in 33 developments will be affected by the ABSD remission clawback in 2017 and 2018.
As a result, several developers have been lobbying for the removal of the ABSD, arguing that the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework will help ensure that buyers stay prudent with their acquisitions even without the ABSD.
“Since 2009, the successive introduction of the government’s property measures has cooled the market, bringing down transactions and prices. With safeguards in place such as the continuation of the prudent TDSR measures together with the current economic situation, property prices will be kept in check,” said Tan.
“It is therefore timely to consider a calibration of the cooling measures.”