Property Measures Around the World

Property Measures Around the World

While we are familiar with the anti-speculative measures Singapore has rolled out, we may not be as knowledgeable about those taken by other countries. This article looks into what some other countries are doing to stabilise their real estate market.

Dubai, UAE (United Arab Emirates)

Since 2011, the residential property market in UAE showed signs of picking up after a sluggish spell between 2008 to 2010.

This prompted the Central Bank to issue a circular to limit the loan quantum for foreigners to 50% of the valuation for the first property purchase, and 40% for subsequent purchases. For citizens, the limits are pegged at 70% and 60%.

But the circular ignited fierce protests by commercial banks, causing the Central Bank to back down.

However, the Central Bank held onto intentions to introduce new mortgage regulations in the later half of 2013.


Despite Malaysia’s liberal foreign homeowners-ship policy, it has a floor price of RM250,00 imposed on residential properti co bought by foreigners. In 2010, in a bid to dampen escalating real estate prices, the Federal Government increased the minimum price to RM500,00.

However, State and Federal policies may differ.

In July 2012, the Penang state government raised the bar to RM1 million for apartments, RM2 million for landed properties on the island, and RM1 million for landed properties in SeberangPerai. Further, buyers under the Malaysia My Second Home scheme have a purchase cap of 2 units, with their minimum increased from RM250,000 to RM500,000.

Johor maybe following this trend. News has it that is contemplating upping the threshold to RM1 million as well, with changes to be announced later this year.

Another measure used to curb the flipping of properties is the RPGT (Real Property Gains Tax).

The country introduced RPGT in 1977 for Malaysians and companies, and in 1980 for foreigners.

RPGT is charged on the gains from the sale of properties that are sold within 7 years after purchase, with rates varying between 5% to as high 40%.

The Government granted a respite from RPGT between 1 April 2007 to 31 December 2009.

After which, it was revised to 5% for sale within 5 years. From 2012, it was again changed to 10% for disposal within 2 years, and 5% for disposal between 2 and 5 years.

This year sees a further upward revision to 15% and 10% for a 2-year and 3- to 5-year holding period, respectively.

Hong Kong, China

To avert a property price bubble in the country’s red-hot property market, since October 2009, the HK Monetary Authority has taken steps to tighten property mortgage lending across all types of properties.

The loan tenure is capped at 30 years for all new mortgages of any property type.

The loan-to-value (LTV) ratio cap varies from 40% to 70% for residential properties; depending on whether the properties are for owner-occupation or other uses, the value of the home, and if the borrower’s income is mainly derived in HK or outside.

The other property types of commercial and industrial have their LTV ratio scaled down to 50% for no-outstanding-mortgage applicants whose income are mainly derived in HK, and 40% for those outside HK.

For borrowers whose income is mainly derived outside HK, and have an outstanding mortgage, their LTV ratio is 10% lower across all property types as compared to those without an outstanding mortgage.

The debt servicing ratio (DSR) cap is set at 50% (40%) for borrowers without (with) outstanding mortgage.

For the full details of these measures, please refer to HK Monetary Authority, “Frequently Asked Questions: J. Loans and Mortgages”.

In a further attempt to cool down the market, the Government imposed a 15% Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) on residential property bought from 27 October 2012 by non-Hong Kong permanent residents (i.e. foreigners and Mainland citizens) and companies, whether incorporated in HK or not.

Another measure to affect residential property bought from 27 October 2012 is the Special Stamp Duty (SSD). Introduced in November 2010, the buyer and seller of a property are jointly liable for it, and it ranges from 5% to 15% if the holding period is less than 2 years.

However, in this latest round of measure, SSD has been raised to vary between 10% and 20%, and the liable holding period has been extended to 3 years.

For further readings on BSD and SSD, visit HK Inland Revenue Department, “FAQ: Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD)” and “FAQ: Special Stamp Duty (SSD)”.

The Government also pledged to increase housing supply and expedite sales of housings to meet increasing demand.

BSD aside, another policy targeting foreigners is the “Hong Kong land for Hong Kong people”, under this policy the government prohibits foreigners from buying residential properties on 2 sites.

Mainland China

One of the world’s largest economy, since 2010, this vast country has been implementing additional measures which run the gamut from financing rules, taxation to restriction on the number of properties that a household can own.

The measures specifically taken by each province and city may vary too. The below covers some of the more prominent measures, but is by no means an exhaustive summary.

The central government in Beijing took the lead in 2010 by mandating that households are allowed to buy only 1 extra home. The screw on this rule was further tightened in 2011 by restricting the number of homes local residents can own to 2, while non-Beijing registered families can only purchase 1 home after paying taxes for 5 consecutive years.

In the same year, the central government raised the minimum down-payment for a second home loan from 50% to 60% and introduced a pilot property taxes scheme in Shanghai and Chongqing. This property tax scheme is expected to spread to other cities.

Many cities across the country have also implemented some restriction or other on housing purchases. Specifically, Guangzhou and Shanghai limited the number of homes local residents can own to 2. From 2012, Guangzhou has also been more stringent in carrying out existing rules that prohibit foreigners from purchasing non-residential properties.

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