Published October 13, 2011
Approvals for PRs buying landed homes set to plunge
By UMA SHANKARI
(SINGAPORE) The number of approvals given to permanent residents (PRs) who want to buy landed homes in Singapore is set to fall by more than half after the criteria was tightened further recently, Law Minister K Shanmugam said yesterday.
'After the further tightening, I suspect we are looking at very few people who would qualify. I think probably less than half of those who had previously qualified - under the previous already strict criteria - would qualify now. I'd be surprised if approvals are more than 50 per year,' Mr Shanmugam said.
'Our belief is that landed property is primarily for Singaporeans and the exceptions have to be very rare.'
Mr Shanmugam was speaking to reporters after visiting a black-and-white bungalow at Goodwood Hill.
The Ministry of Law said that the criteria was tightened 'recently' but declined to provide a more exact date.
A ministry spokeswoman said that over the last three years, the ministry had received an average of about 230 applications a year from PRs for the purchase of landed residential property.
On average, about 60 per cent of the applications were approved. With the revised criteria, the approval rate could drop by more than 50 per cent, she said.
This means that the number of approvals could fall from around 138 a year to Mr Shanmugam's prediction of not more than 50.
Foreigners who are PRs currently own about 3.5 per cent of the total stock of 70,000 landed homes in Singapore. This includes properties in Sentosa Cove, where the government has made a decision to liberally allow purchases by foreigners.
Foreigners cannot buy such properties without the prior approval of the law minister. And only foreigners who are PRs can apply to purchase landed properties.
Mr Shanmugam told The Business Times in an interview in July that his ministry regularly reviews the rules to ensure that they are current and relevant. And yesterday, he said that the 'strict' criteria were tightened further this year.
'We have reviewed it further this year . . . as we are even stricter, it (the number of approvals) may fall by half,' Mr Shanmugam said.
The Law Ministry spokeswoman added that PRs who want to buy landed properties must demonstrate that they are making a 'very significant economic contribution' to Singapore.
'Some discretion is also exercised by considering the commitment shown to Singapore by the applicants, including how rooted they and their children are in Singapore,' she said.
'Since the criteria have been further revised this year, the approval rate is expected to fall further from the already small number of approvals in the past years.'
My Observations & Thots.....
138 out of 70K is 0.2%; so not significant enuf to affect the property mkt for landed homes.
More likely that the policy change is meant to reflect the benefits of citizenship.
Will these PRs then be encouraged to become citizens?