Tougher rules on strata-landed homes

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On April 4, 2012
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Straits Times: Wed, Apr 04
   AN AVENUE allowing foreigners to buy landed homes without needing official approval has been blocked with new rules governing condominium developments.   Strata-landed homes built in condominium estates have enjoyed condo status, meaning foreigner…

AN AVENUE allowing foreigners to buy landed homes without needing official approval has been blocked with new rules governing condominium developments.

Strata-landed homes built in condominium estates have enjoyed condo status, meaning foreigners can buy them without restriction, unlike standard landed homes that require the green light from the Government.

Under the new rule that kicked in yesterday, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) says it will no longer give condominium status to developments comprising strata-landed homes and apartments within the same development.

‘Only residential developments comprising purely apartment units and complying with the condominium guidelines will continue to be approved as condominiums,’ the URA circular stated.

The move is expected to have an impact on foreign buyers in particular, as they have picked up most of these strata- landed homes.

The URA added that only projects already granted provisional permission as of Monday this week will continue to be evaluated under the old guidelines.

This means foreigners can still buy strata-landed homes without first seeking permission in existing condos and in upcoming projects that have already been approved by URA.

Some of the upcoming condo projects that have already secured permission include Far East Organization’s 416-unit Hillsta in Choa Chu Kang, with 20 strata-landed townhouses, and the 338-unit Seahill in West Coast Link, expected to have 18 of such units.

The Straits Times understands that Far East has also launched the Woodhaven, The Seawind and euHabitat condo projects with 113 strata-landed units in total. About 45 remain unsold.

Experts said the change would choke off the supply of such homes, shutting the back door that has allowed foreigners to move into the landed property market.

Foreigners, including permanent residents (PRs), bought about 90 per cent of the 97 strata-landed homes in condominiums sold last year. The level was 60 per cent in 2010, said a URA spokesman.

Experts noted that the number of these condo projects has ballooned, as developers chanced upon an opportunity to sell highly sought-after landed homes to foreign buyers without the usual hassle.

Condo status projects with strata-landed homes that have already been launched include d’Leedon near Farrer Road, Thomson Grand in Upper Thomson and Archipelago in Bedok Reservoir.

Developers told The Straits Times that the changes were unlikely to affect their business plans much.

A UOL spokesman said the change should not affect its strategy.

‘The type of products we offer is dependent on market demand and site specifics. Obviously, we have to work within the rules and regulations,’ he said. ‘Strata-landed homes, which sold very well in our existing project Archipelago, form only a very small part of the development.’

Strict conditions apply to foreigners buying landed houses such as bungalows and semi-detached or terraced homes.

On mainland Singapore, the main criteria are that they are PRs and make an adequate economic contribution. Approval is given by the Singapore Land Authority’s Land Dealings (Approval) Unit.

Non-PR foreigners can buy landed homes only at Sentosa Cove.

esthert@sph.com.sg

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd.

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