S’pore property ‘recovery’ begins 

Cooling measures, the global slowdown and a surplus of newly built apartments have kept down Singaporean property prices for the past four years but traders are hoping for a rebound. 

“There is a feeling now that the market has bottomed,” Tay Kah Poh, head of residential services at Knight Frank, told the Financial Times.

Residential prices fell by 3.1 per cent in 2016, according to estate agent’s Singapore arm. The fall was 3.7 per cent in 2015.

Jones Lang LaSalle Singapore said the price of prime homes with three or more bedrooms close to the city centre bottomed out in the third quarter of last year, with prices rising 1.1 per cent in the last six months.

Cultural projects are boosting property interest in the city-state, it seems. The National Gallery Singapore opened in 2015 with numerous shops and restaurants springing up in the area.

Singapore has the eighth-highest number of ultra-high-net-worth people on the planet, according to Frank Knight.

Political stability, low taxes, increasing cultural activity and falling property prices have attracted the super-rich, defined as those with assets of over US$30 million, excluding their main home.

Cooling measures, including a 16-per-cent seller’s stamp duty on homes resold quickly after buying, a stamp duty of up to 15 per cent on second homes and mortgage restrictions caused prices to fall about 12 per cent since the end of 2013.

The policies addressed prices that were spiralling out of control. Between 2009 and 2013, prices rose 62 per cent, according to Tay Huey Ying of consultancy JLL. After the global financial crisis, she argues, an influx of investors, largely from China, were attracted by low interest rates.

But in March the government eased the seller stamp duty on homes sold within four years to those sold within three years.

The Ministry of Finance is seeking public feedback on proposed changes to the Property Tax Act, adding that the amendments are intended to update the legislation and improve tax administration.

One of the proposals involves making digital property tax notices an opt-out option. This means that those who want to continue receiving hard copies of the notices will have to opt out, while others will receive copies electronically.

Taxpayers must currently give specific consent to receive digital tax notices instead of the hard copies.

Under the amended bill, taxpayers would have the flexibility to change their preference for hard copies or digital notices at any time, the ministry said.

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