ABSD made less penalizing for seller owner-occupied houses

Budget 2024 gave single Singaporeans something to celebrate on the housing front. Singapore citizens 55 years old and above, who meet certain requirements, can now claim back the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) they paid for a second home.

The ABSD reimbursement is substantial, given that a Singaporean citizen purchasing a 2nd home would have to pay ABSD in the amount of 20 percent. For example, a S$1.5M second home purchase would result in a full ABSD rebate of S$300,000.

The local single must meet the following conditions in order to receive a full reimbursement: he or she must sell their first home no later than six months from when they purchased the second property, for a completed house, or within six weeks of the date on which the Temporary Occupational Permit/Certificate of Statutory completion was issued, depending on the earlier date, if the house wasn’t finished at the moment of purchase. The second home’s value must also be less than the previous home.

In the current system, married couples consisting of at least a Singaporean national can receive ABSD remissions when they jointly purchase a secondary home.

Singles can benefit from the housing industry, even though married residents have many advantages. This is because singles are such a large group.

In 2023 there will be 30.4% single residents, 14.9% single residents, 11.8% single residents, and 10.4% for residents over 60. Comparatively, in 2010, the proportions for singles amongst residents of their 30s (24.5%), 40s (13.8%), 50s (7.5%) and 60s (8.5%) were 24.5% (13.8%), 111.7% (7.5%), and 60s (10%).

Singapore is land scarce, and homes should largely only be built to be owned by the owners. Developers, owners, agents, and buyers should all welcome the curbs placed on the private market to keep prices stable and prevent a boom and crash cycle.

Singapore has a very high home ownership percentage – 90% of households in the country will own their home by 2023.

Housing mobility is important as well, since many households see their housing requirements change over time. Housing mobility is important for households as their housing needs may change over time.

A changing household size may be the primary reason for moving. One reason for moving house is to increase the household size. For instance, an older couple may move in and live with their adult children. Or, the size of a family can decrease as adult kids leave their parent’s home.

Some households might want to move closer to a school or work place, thus saving travel time and expenses.

Money can also be an important factor in moving houses. If a family is looking to upgrade from a modest apartment to a luxurious condominium, it could be to show off their business success or mark a career milestone.

Owners may try to swap a home that’s too expensive for a lower-priced one when their financial fortunes decline or they retire. It can help relieve financial pressure and free up cash.

In addition, with Singapore’s rapid ageing, some older people may decide to move into a residence that is easier for them to manage, or one that better suits their needs.

The right home size, price, location and specifications can enhance a household’s harmony and mental health.

A household which trades one home it occupies for another, is not looking to expand the number properties that it owns. Therefore, it may seem unfair that this household would have to pay ABSD at the rate applicable for residents buying a new home.

Could ABSD be made more favourable for locals that are eligible to receive a more favourable ABSD rate when buying their second home if, among other requirements, they sell the first house within a set time frame?

These locals could be allowed to first not pay ABSD before receiving a rebate. They could instead be required to pay ABSD when their first home fails to sell within the prescribed period.

Union Square Residences Condo at Havelock Road is a rare development after Canninghill Piers.

As a result, paying ABSD in advance and receiving a later refund could be a serious financial strain for some families, as well as a possible obstacle to moving.

You might also consider making ABSD easier for other groups to qualify for, such as single locals younger than 55 years of age and married PR couples.

It is justifiable to help PR couples because of the economic contribution many PRs make. In addition, ABSD rates are currently set to favour citizens and PRs.

Singles in the locality who are younger than 55, and PR couples, would have to sell their home prior to purchasing a replacement, to avoid having to pay ABSD.

These singles in the area and couples on PR may be forced to rent an interim home. A home that is sold first, before the replacement home, could be stuck in a bad situation if prices go up.

A single could also get the ABSD refund if he or she trades in an owner-occupied property for something more expensive.

Singapore offers housing mobility thanks to its excellent planning, public housing of high quality and connectivity. Locals may move seamlessly from public to private and vice versa or to anywhere else on the island.

Although moving from one home to another is not expensive, the cost of moving can affect housing mobility.

Stamp duty for buyers is 3 % for homes worth S$1.5M and 4 % for homes worth S$3M. ABSD adds a substantial amount to the costs of transactions.

ABSD needs to be much more welcoming to residents that are moving from one owner-occupied property to another.

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