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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Foo

A Closer Look at Singapore Budget 2024's Impact on Property by Walter Ng

Updated: Mar 6

Hear from Walter Ng PropNex
Budget 2024 by Walter Ng

In a decisive move to address the evolving needs of Singapore's property landscape, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Lawrence Wong unveiled the Singapore Budget 2024, aptly titled "Building Our Shared Future Together." Among the array of announcements, several pivotal changes directly impact the real estate sector. Here, we delve into the nuances of these property-related measures and explore their potential ramifications.

1. Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS): A Lifeline for Young Families

Arguably one of the most crucial announcements is the introduction of the one-year Parenthood Provisional Housing Scheme (PPHS) voucher. Targeted at eligible families eagerly awaiting their Build-to-Order (BTO) flats, this initiative allows them to rent Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats in the open market. The dollar value of the voucher remains undisclosed, but industry experts believe it will significantly alleviate the financial burden of interim housing expenses.

Walter Ng of PropNex Realty points out, "The PPHS voucher will come in handy to offset the rising rental expenses of HDB flats, which have seen a notable surge from 2021 to 2023. While its current one-year duration is appreciated, an extension beyond this period would provide continued support for families facing potential delays in their BTO flat completions, minimizing disruptions to their housing arrangements."

2. Empowering Senior Citizens: ABSD Refund for Right-Sizing

The Budget also introduces a targeted initiative aimed at single Singaporean seniors aged 55 and above. This demographic will now be eligible for an additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) refund when they choose to right-size their housing to a lower-value private property. This move aligns with the government's efforts to support seniors in monetizing their properties, reinforcing their retirement adequacy.

Mr. Walter Ng comments, "This initiative is commendable, it will serves a vital purpose in assisting seniors seeking to optimize their housing situation."

3. Developer Flexibility: ABSD Clawback Rate Revisions

Concerning the reduced ABSD clawback rate for housing developers, which varies based on the percentage of units sold, we believe that while it introduces some flexibility, the degree of reduction may not be significant enough. Housing developers are likely to remain motivated to sell the entirety of the units within the stipulated 5-year timeframe. For instance, even if a developer successfully sells 99% of the units, they would still face a 25% ABSD remission clawback with interest (a reduction from the previous 35%). This imposes a substantial financial burden on developers.

Illustrating this with a hypothetical scenario, consider a developer who acquired a site for $400 million after December 16, 2021, with a project comprising 500 units. Failing to sell the last 1% of the units (5 units) within the 5-year ABSD deadline would result in an ABSD remission clawback of $100 million plus interest at a reduced rate of 25%. This is in comparison to the previous scenario under a 35% ABSD rate, where the clawback would have amounted to $140 million plus interest. While the reduction is noted, the financial implications remain significant and continue to pose a considerable challenge for developers.

4. Property Tax Adjustments: Shaping the Landscape from 2025

A notable inclusion in the Budget is the revision of annual value bands for owner-occupier residential property tax rates, effective from January 1, 2025. The lowest annual value (AV) band threshold will be increased from $8,000 to $12,000, while the highest threshold will see an upward adjustment from over $100,000 to over $140,000. Corresponding adjustments will be made to bands in between, reflecting the government's commitment to aligning property tax rates with the evolving market dynamics.

In conclusion, the property-related announcements in Singapore Budget 2024 demonstrate a strategic approach to addressing specific challenges within the real estate sector. As stakeholders navigate these changes, the effectiveness of these measures in achieving the desired outcomes will unfold in the coming months. For now, the industry remains cautiously optimistic, embracing the targeted interventions while keeping a watchful eye on the broader market dynamics.

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