PRs trip on ringfence around landed homes

PRs trip on ringfence around landed homes

SINGAPORE - The number of approvals granted to permanent residents wanting to buy landed homes on mainland Singapore has fallen sharply, since the authorities further tightened the eligibility criteria in 2011 to ensure these scarce properties remain the primary preserve of Singapore citizens.

The Singapore Land Authority told The Business Times that the number of such approvals fell from 145 in 2010 to 117 in 2011 to just 31 last year (the first full year after the tightening). In the first six months of 2013, only six applications received the nod.

Back in October 2011, Law Minister K Shanmugam had indicated that the number of approvals given to PRs to buy landed homes would fall by more than half to no more than 50 per year.

Since the authorities raised the bar some time in 2011 on eligibility criteria for PRs to buy landed residential properties, about two-thirds of approved applicants are married PR couples with children who are also PRs. "Where these couples have sons of National Service-eligibility age, the sons are serving or have served NS," said an SLA spokeswoman.

"Given the scarcity of landed residential properties in Singapore, the government's policy has always been to ensure that such properties remain the primary preserve of Singapore citizens."

Foreigners who wish to own landed homes in Singapore must first seek government approval. On mainland Singapore, the minimum criterion is that they must be PRs. In addition, "they have to meet very stringent criteria that reflect significant economic contribution and rootedness in Singapore", said the spokeswoman.

If approval is given, it is restricted to one landed residential property with a site area not exceeding 15,000 square feet. The property must be for owner occupation and cannot be rented out.

In addition, approved applicants must hold the property for at least five years, up from three years previously. Market watchers believe this change was effected sometime during the second half of last year.

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