Top Issues Which ERA Property Agents Raised With Tan Chuan-Jin

Property owners in Singapore are not in happy with taxation rules. The ERA property agents met Tan Chuan-Jin, the Minister for Social and Family Development, to discuss their problems at the Asia-Pacific Business Conference at Marina Bay Sands. In a dialogue with the minister, The COO of ERA, Marcus Chu, spoke on behalf of the property agents suggesting that the tax policy of the government is hampering the concerns of the property owners. Previously, the property owners got a tax refund for vacant houses. Since 2014, a change in policy is making the property owners sweat as they are under a massive tax burden.

ERA agents are concerned about taxes

One of the primary issues discussed with the minister was the number of properties that could not find tenants. The rising number of such vacant properties is creating troubles for the homeowners as their income is being hampered. The ERA members also discussed the problem that vacant properties still qualify for the payment of maintenance fees. Moreover, these properties do not get a tax refund like before because of which owners are under pressure and having to bear losses. The sheer inability to attract more tenants in the market and paying taxes too is creating cracks in the market.

Though Minister Tan listened to the concerns of the property owners, he also noted that investment properties mostly belong to high income individuals who can bear tax payments on vacant properties. He said that the Ministry of Finance will take a close look at the matter and provide relief if found necessary. However, he also suggested that the government needs to balance its budget, for which taxes were necessary.

Tan’s advice to the agents

In the closing address, Tan asked the agents to be more watchful of the well being of the new tenants that are renting houses. He said that when the clients ‘over-extend’ to buy or rent a property, the agent must intervene and ensure that tenants do not harm their own financial health. Some tenants may want to over-extend on their financial issues and not be able to sustain for long. He said, “You make a real difference to their quality of life by the quality of advice you provide.”

The ERA has had a good year, also marking its 35th anniversary this year. In the past year, it closed deals valued at $19 billion. The ERA was also able to get a better market share this year, even when the housing market remains bullish. However, changing regulations have created some trouble for the company as property owners feel the burden of taxes. Tan marked that the commercial real estate market and the private property market has declined due to the low consumer sentiment. However, he hopes that situations will remain stable and would normalize soon.

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