Parliament: Review cooling measures to help more Singaporeans "level up" homes

SINGAPORE - Some cooling measures should be reviewed to make it easier for more Singaporeans to upgrade their homes, MP Foo Mee Har (West Coast GRC) said in Parliament on Monday.

Additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD), for instance, could be collected upon completion of a new property rather than upfront, she said.

And if a genuine upgrader sells his first flat within a certain period, he should not need to pay ABSD at all, she added.

Changes such as these would help give more Singaporeans "a chance to realise their aspirations and 'level up'", she said.

She noted that many Singaporeans, including first-time Housing Board (HDB) flat owners, singles and low-income groups, "have benefited from a slew of new housng policies ... introduced to stabilise property prices".

However, recent property market curbs - such as ABSD and limits on home loans under a total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) framework imposed last year - have made property upgrading "much more difficult for the middle income group", she said.

"This aspiration to upgrade is important to the middle class; many had worked hard towards this goal, only to be frustrated just when they thought it was within reach."

The TDSR framework imposed in June last year caps a home buyer's total debt repayments at 60 per cent of gross monthly income.

Ms Foo said that although TDSR was important to avoid home buyers taking on too much debt, it has "already raised the bar for many" and the "combined burden" of lower loan-to-value (LTV) ratios and having to pay ABSD upfront would usually put an upgrade out of reach.

She also suggested that the Government allow a higher LTV ratio of 80 per cent for those upgrading to private property who ultimately end up owning only one property.

The LTV ratio indicates how much cash a buyer has to put down when buying a home, so a lower cap means buyers have to use more of their own cash rather than borrowed money to finance home purchases.