Tighter laws on private housing

PHOTO: Tighter laws on private housing

SINGAPORE - Developers of private housing projects face more stringent laws on marketing and disclosure of information, after Parliament passed amendments to the Housing Developers Act on Monday.

For instance, they will not be allowed to make showflats look bigger than the finished product through the use of glass panels instead of brick walls, or higher ceilings.

The transaction prices reported will also have to reflect all forms of discounts and rebates, including furniture vouchers and stamp duty refunds. This is meant to counter any artificial inflation of prices by developers.

The amendments give the Government greater power to punish errant developers - with fines of up to $100,000 and the power to inspect and, if necessary, close showflats, among other measures.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan said the bill would further safeguard the interests of home buyers and enhance professionalism in the residential property industry.

Mr Lee said: "Over the years, we have noticed more and more developers offering discounts to homebuyers. More recently, some developers have started to mark their units at higher prices, while offering significant discounts through rebates and other benefits such as furniture vouchers. Such inflated sale prices mask the real transacted prices and undermine transparency in the property market."

The Act has been amended to give the Controller of Housing legal powers to collect and publish information pertaining to building projects and sale transactions. Mr Lee said the data will be published to help homebuyers in their decision-making.

As many homebuyers base their purchases on what they see, it is important that showflats are "what you see is what you get", said Mr Lee.

Under the new rules to improve governance, developers will now have to make their audited financial positions public. Should they fail to furnish information concerning the sale of a project, for example, their licences can be revoked or suspended.

"It is only right that homebuyers are provided with the appropriate tools and legal safeguards to make informed decisions."

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