Owners of overseas homes not exempt

They must sell overseas home within six months of buying HDB flat

PEOPLE who own a home overseas will still have to comply with the new rules on property ownership if they want to buy an HDB resale flat.

The new rules state that if you buy an HDB resale flat you must dispose of any additional private property within six months of the purchase.

That rule also applies to people who own homes offshore. This means an overseas property must be sold within six months of buying an HDB resale flat.

Also an owner of a non-subsidised HDB flat who has yet to meet his minimum occupation period (MOP) of five years will also not be allowed to buy a private property locally or abroad.

How new financing rules affect owners of homes offshore was also made clearer yesterday.

Under the revised regulations, a buyer with a mortgage on a local property must stump up a downpayment of 30 per cent when buying an additional property. This is up from 20 per cent previously.

And at least 10 per cent of this deposit must be in cash – up from 5 per cent before – with the rest coming from his Central Provident Fund (CPF) accounts.

But the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said that a buyer with a home loan for an overseas property will not be subject to these financing rules if buying an additional property here.

MAS said it ‘expect(s) financial institutions to take into account the borrower’s outstanding loans when making their credit assessment’.

Industry players say that the new rules effectively delineate the HDB resale market as ‘public housing’, reserved for those whose HDB flat will be their only property.

They will also put pressure on permanent residents (PRs) who might own a home in their native country to choose where they want to be based permanently.

Mr Colin Tan of Chesterton Suntec International, said the new rules were similar to an income ceiling. ‘Basically, it seems to be saying: If you can afford to own a private property then you don’t deserve to own an HDB flat’.

While the new rules are aimed at keeping HDB flats for owner occupiers and not for investment purposes, Mr Tan felt that exceptions should be made for genuine cases such as retirees looking to monetise their overseas assets through renting out an offshore property.

But enforcement and implementing penalties for those who flout the rules would be a challenge, say experts.

Mr Steven Tan, executive director of residential at OrangeTee agency, said enforcement would be difficult when buyers pay for overseas property all in cash.

He added that the new rules could be an extension of an existing one that prevents owners of build-to-order flats and executive condominiums from buying private property during the five-year MOP.