The move to cool property prices – which have reached an all-time high, according to the government – is aimed at curbing speculation. It won't hurt first-time buyers of Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats, who can still get HDB loans covering up to 90 per cent of the flat's value.
They must, however, use all their CPF ordinary account balance before they get such loans. Those "rightsizing their flats to meet their housing needs" can also get up to 90 per cent HDB loans on the same terms, said the Ministry of National Development.
HBD said: "HDB flats are meant for long-term owner occupation." Hence the new rule from today raising the minimum occupation period from three years to five years before HDB flat owners can resell or sublet their flats.
Property accounts for just over half of Singaporean household assets, according to the Singapore Department of Statistics' Household Balance Sheet 2008, which said:
The buoyant property market in 2007, coupled with the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, had resulted in an increasing share of residential property assets. As at end-2008, the shares of financial assets (currency and deposits, shares and securities, life insurance and CPF) and residential property assets were generally well-balanced at 49 per cent and 51 per cent respectively. This proportionate diversification in asset portfolio reduces the vulnerability of households to extreme fluctuations in either the financial or property market.
The new rules follow a rise in the number of HDB flats up for resale in the second quarter.