22 March 2019
Stamp duty rules may be tweaked for buyers of second homes. Photo: Bloomberg
Stamp duty rules may be tweaked for buyers of second homes. Photo: Bloomberg

HK to ease stamp duty rules on pre-sold homes

Hong Kong is planning to relax tough rules designed to deter speculation in homes sold off the plan but it’s still not clear if the government will soften its hard stand on the broader housing market, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.

Under existing rules, all buyers of second homes must pay a double stamp duty, which can be up to 8.5 percent depending on the cost of the property, if they fail to sell their first units within six months of buying the new one. Buyers who sell their first home within six months of buying the second one can get a full refund of the duty. 

According to unidentified sources, this period is likely to be extended by at least one to two months, giving buyers of second homes more time to dispose their first property, adding that the period for buyers of pre-sold homes may be extended from six months to the moment a buyer moves into the completed home. 

Professor Chan Ka-keung, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, is scheduled to unveil the plan in the Legislative Council today.

An unnamed government official said the revision does not mean the government is less determined to to deter real estate speculation. Instead, the authorities are trying to help residents by saving them the trouble of renting in the time between selling their existing home and moving into the new one.

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