[COVID-19] Travel Restrictions & Stricter Safe Distancing Measures

Updated Travel Advisory and Travel Restrictions

  1. From 27 March 2020, 0900 hours, all travellers arriving in Singapore, including residents (Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents) and Long-Term Pass holders (Student’s Pass, Dependant’s Pass, Work Pass and Long-Term Visit Pass Holders), must submit a health declaration before proceeding with immigration clearance.
     
  2. They can do so up to three days prior to arrival in Singapore, and must re-submit their health declaration if there are changes to their health condition or travel history before arriving in Singapore. More details can be found here.
     
  3. Any work pass holder or his/her dependent who leaves Singapore from 27 March 2020 will be deprioritised for entry approval and could see significant delays before they are allowed to return to Singapore if they persist in travelling abroad and return infected.

Stricter Safe Distancing Measures

  1. With effect from 26 March 2020, 2359 hours, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce will be enforcing stricter measures to limit gatherings outside of work and school to 10 persons or fewer and ensure that physical distancing of at least on metre can be achieved in most settings where interactions are non-transient. These measures are expected to be in place until 30 April 2020 but may be extended if the situation does not improve.
     
  2. All events and mass gatherings (e.g. conferences, exhibitions, festivals, concerts, sporting events, trade fairs) must be deferred or cancelled, regardless of size. This is a tightening of the previous requirement where all events and gatherings were to be limited to fewer than 250 participants.

Enhanced Safe Distancing Measures for Businesses

  1. Existing measures for workplaces continue to apply. Employers should put in place measures to reduce close physical interactions amongst employees. Tele-conferencing should be used in place of physical meetings wherever possible. Where employees can perform their work by telecommuting from home, employers must ensure that they do so.
     
  2. The Government will close all bars and entertainment venues such as night clubs, discos, cinemas, theatres, and karaoke outlets, where there is a high risk of transmission due to sustained close contact over a period of time. Other public venues such as retail malls, museums and attractions, where contact is more transient, may remain open. However, operators are to adhere to relevant guidelines.
     
  3. Existing measures for food and beverage venues continue to apply. Other activities such as live music or karaoke which are likely to cause patrons to congregate will have to cease.
     
  4. Retail malls and attractions that are unable to adhere to these requirements must be closed. Additional penalties may be imposed on those which are found to have been a place of transmission of COVID-19, if the venues are found not to have adhered to these requirements.

TraceTogether App

  1. GovTech launched a new app to speed up contact tracing last Friday. You can be part of the contact tracing effort by sharing materials here: go.gov.sg/tt-comms-kit

[COVID-19] Additional Precautionary Measures to Prevent Further Importation of COVID-19 cases

Please see the latest Precautionary Measures to Prevent Further Importation of COVID-19 cases

Please Click the 2 Links for the Press Releases from MOM & MOH:
 
Press Release-Entry Approval Requirements-ASEAN countries Japan Switzerland and the United Kingdom from the Ministry of Manpower and Press Release-Further Border Control Measures from Ministry of Health on the above matter; as well as Minister Chan Chun Sing’s Facebook post. (https://www.facebook.com/175816112470380/posts/3039000042818625/).
 
Key updates to note:
 
Travel advisory and travel restrictions

  1. Defer all non-essential overseas travel for the next 30 days, with immediate effect. This advisory will be reviewed thereafter.
     
  2. From 16 March 2020, 2359 hours, all travellers (including Singapore Residents, long term pass holders, and short term visitors) entering Singapore with recent travel history to the following countries within the last 14 days will be issued with a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN):
     
  3. Other ASEAN countries (except for land and sea travellers from Malaysia);
     
  4. Japan;
  5. Switzerland;
  6. United Kingdom
     
  7. From 16 March 2020, 2359 hours, all short-term visitors who are nationals of any ASEAN country will have to submit requisite information on their health to the Singapore Overseas Mission in the country they are resident of before their intended date of travel. The submission will have to be approved by Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) before travel to Singapore. Short-term visitors who arrive in Singapore without the necessary approval will be denied entry into Singapore. This is in addition to the SHN requirement. 
     
  8. However, given the close proximity to Malaysia, the 14-day SHN will not apply to land and sea crossings with Malaysia. Workers who commute between the two countries will still be able to do so.
     
  9. The latest restrictions will not have any impact on the supply of food and other essentials between Singapore and Malaysia as drivers of goods vehicles will be able to enter as per normal.
     
  10. Summary list of countries/regions and border control measures:

 

Travel History in Countries/Regions  For Singapore Residents
and Long-Term Pass Holders 
For Short-Term Visitors For Work Pass Holders (including dependents)
Hubei province (China) 14-day quarantine Not allowed
entry or transit 
Required to
obtain the
Ministry of Manpower’s approval before entering or returning to Singapore.
 
This is regardless of the nationality
of the work
pass holder.The entry
approval requirement applies to both existing
work pass
holders and
in-principle approval holders.
Mainland China (except Hubei province), France, Germany, Italy, Iran, Republic of Korea, and Spain 14-day SHN Not allowed
entry or transit 
ASEAN countries
(except for land and
sea crossings from Malaysia)
 
14-day SHN 14-day SHN
with health declaration 
 
Short-term visitors who are ASEAN
nationals will
also be required to submit requisite health information for approval before travelling
Japan, Switzerland, and United Kingdom  14-day SHN 
 

[IEA] A Guide for Property Agents during COVID-19 outbreak.

COVID-19: A Guide for Property Agents during COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Why is IEA issuing this Guidance?

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is spreading around the world and the World Health Organization (WHO) had just declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. The spread of the infection has been accelerating in Asia and to other parts of the world, including Europe and United States of America. In response to the growing concerns about COVID-19, IEA is issuing this Guidance to help Property Agents respond to COVID-19’s potential impact on the real estate agents’ industry as the situation is rapidly evolving here and abroad.

What preventative measures may be taken to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading of COVID-19?

  • Stay home if you have a fever, cough, diarrhoea, shortness of breath or any other cold or flu-like symptoms.
  • If you are sick or feeling unwell, go consult a doctor. Be socially responsible, wear a mask. Stay home.
  • Do wash your hands frequently. If soap and water are not available, use appropriate hand sanitizers.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands.
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick or unwell.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

What issues do the COVID19 present to the real estate agents’ industry?

With an infectious disease like COVID-19, fear and anxiety may lead to social stigma and potential discrimination.  Property Agents must be mindful of their obligations and not to discriminate against any particular segment of people or clients they may come into contact with.

May I ask clients or other agents that I will be interacting with during my estate agent work if they have travelled recently, or have any signs of respiratory illness or may be feeling unwell? 

Yes, you would be prudent to ask clients or others you come in contact with during your day-to-day work about their recent travels, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of COVID-19. You can ask your clients or your co-broking partners the same questions based on current, factual information, updates or further verifications from our Ministry of Health: www.gov.sg

In cases where you may be driving your clients to conduct viewings, can you refuse or opt not to drive potential clients for their home searches?

Yes. However, be sure that any changes to your normal business practices are applied equally to all clients, as well as business associates. You may refuse to pick up or drive clients for viewings if they show signs of illness OR reveal recent travels to areas of increased risk of the COVID-19, OR you may instead decide to stop driving clients in your car altogether, and simply arrange to meet clients or others at the site.

If you choose to continue to ferry clients in your vehicle, it will be good if you can clean and disinfect surfaces like door handles, seats and seat belt latches, and to ask clients to use hand sanitizers when getting in and out of your car.

Should I continue to conduct open houses or continue to allow viewings on my listed properties?

Suggest you speak openly and honestly with your clients or business associates about the pros and cons of prospective viewings or conducting open houses.  Assess the risks, advise what steps or actions you expect from your clients or other agents and then direct your clients or other agents accordingly. If you do decide to conduct viewings or have open house activities, consider requiring all visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the home, and do provide hand sanitizers. Some occupants may insist on temperature-taking, sanitisation of hands or wearing masks before permitting admission into their property.

What precautions should estate agencies consider taking in their respective offices?

KEOs should use their best judgment when formulating any precautionary plans to support their staff, agents and their clients in view of COVID-19. Implementation of temperature screening, providing hand sanitisers, proper registration of visitors and applying options or mandatory “stay-home” policy for staff and agents exhibiting signs of illness, symptoms of being unwell.  Take prudent steps or measures to ensure the office is well ventilated as many are understandably more cautious or concern about sharing an enclosed space with others. Consider postponement or cancellation of meetings or events that involves huge number of people for safety reasons.

KEOs to continue to educate staff and agents going about with their social activities and work to adhere to good social habits, responsibilities and personal hygiene.  Contact tracing is a tedious and challenging exercise. All efforts must be in place to help contain COVID-19 and prevent others from being infected within the respective estate agencies.

IEA as a responsible industry association:

As an industry body, we would like to encourage and remind our Members who are KEOs, agents and fellow practitioners to remain vigilant, be alert, practice good personal hygiene and be socially responsible to help the fight the COVID-19 together as a sector.  Property agents are already faced with many different challenges, let’s take extra precautions to look after one another especially during co-broking arrangements and also for our loved ones at home.

Don’t let your guard down, be safe! We will overcome the COVID-19 eventually. You can learn more about the COVID19 at www.who.int/COVID-19 or www.gov.sg

We attached herewith a sample of (Please Click: HEALTH DECLARATION FORM )which Property Agents may find useful. You may make necessary changes to the Declaration Form if you deem necessary. This Guidance for Property Agents is shared by the Institute of Estate Agents, Singapore (IEA) because we care. Be safe, practice social responsibilities and maintain good personal hygiene at all times.


[IRAS] Fixed Expense Deduction Ratio (FEDR) for Individual Self-employed Commission Agents

Dear Members

With effect from the Year of Assessment 2020 (in respect of income earned in the year 2019), individual self-employed commission agents (including property agents, insurance agents and remisiers) earning gross commission of up to $50,000 in a year, can claim deduction of expenses based on a deemed expense ratio of 25% of gross commission received. Alternatively, commission agents may claim actual business expenses if their business expenses are more than 25% of gross commission received. This initiative aims to ease tax compliance and facilitate tax fillings for individual self-employed commission agents.

You may wish to refer to the following link for more information: https://go.gov.sg/iras-commissionfedr

If you need further clarification or assistance, please contact IRAS by calling 1800 356 8300 or you can chat with their officers at "Chat with us" from Mondays to Fridays, 8am to 5pm.


[CPF] Enhanced CPF Housing Grant for First-Timers and Higher Income Ceilings

Dear Members

Yesterday, MND and HDB announced various measures to make public housing more affordable and accessible for Singaporeans.  The measures will help more Singaporeans from lower to upper-middle income households buy their first homes and start a family.

The measures include:

Enhanced CPF Housing Grant

MND and HDB introduced a new Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) to replace the Additional CPF Housing Grant (AHG) and Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG). The EHG is made available to eligible first-timer home seekers, regardless of whether they purchase a new or resale flat. There are also no restrictions on their choice of flat type and location.

Eligible first-timer families with a monthly income of up to $9,000 can enjoy an EHG of up to $80,000, when they buy a flat that can cover them and their spouses to the age of 95. This is to ensure that all Singaporeans will be able to live comfortably in a home that can last them for life. Eligible families who buy a flat that does not meet this condition will also benefit from the EHG, but the amount will be pro-rated based on the extent that the remaining lease can cover them to the age of 95. The pro-ration of the EHG takes reference from the pro-ration used for CPF usage and HDB housing loan financing, as announced in May 2019.

Eligible first-timer singles aged 35 and above, and earning not more than $4,500 a month, can also enjoy an EHG (singles) of up to $40,000, and are subject to the same conditions.

Higher Income Ceiling
The monthly household income ceiling has been increased from $12,000 to $14,000 for eligible families to:

a) Buy a flat from HDB;
b) Buy a resale flat on the open market with a CPF Housing Grant; and
c) Get an HDB housing loan for the purchase of a new or resale flat.

The monthly household income ceiling for eligible first-timer singles aged 35 and above has been raised from $6,000 to $7,000.

MND and HDB has also raised the monthly household income ceiling from $14,000 to $16,000 for citizen households to buy an Executive Condominium (EC) unit from property developer.

The EHG and revised income ceilings apply to resale flat applications submitted to HDB on or after 11 September 2019.  For more details, you may refer to the press release.


[CPF] Changes to CPF Rules Governing Use of CPF for Property Purchases

Dear Members

With reference to the joint press release by the Ministry of National Development (MND) and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) on 9 May 2019 announcing changes to CPF rules governing the use of CPF for property purchases. The changes took effect on 10 May 2019.

The changes to CPF rules provide greater flexibility for Singaporeans to purchase a home, while safeguarding their retirement adequacy. To help the estate agency industry better understand the changes, please CLICK HERE for the circular, which provides a comparison of the past and revised rules, infographics of the changes, and a table showing the maximum CPF usage based on the valuation limit:

For enquiries, please contact CPF Board at:

Private Housing         :   6202 2053 or [email protected]
Public Housing – Bank Loan      :   6202 2052 or [email protected]
Public Housing – HDB Loan       :   6202 2051 or [email protected]


[IRAS] Budget 2018 "Changes to the Stamp Duty Structure"

With reference to the Budget 2018 update issued by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) on the changes to the rate structure of the buyer’s stamp duty (BSD) with effect from 20 February 2018.

Please Click Here for the Circular.

Real estate agents and their salespersons are to take note and inform their clients that BSD rates are differentiated between residential and non-residential properties. The top marginal BSD rate for residential properties has been increased to 4% where the consideration or market value exceeds $1 million. There are no changes to the BSD rates for non-residential properties.
IRAS is conducting a Stamp Duty seminar next Monday, 26 February 2018, 5-6 pm, at the Revenue House Auditorium to brief on the BSD changes, the new remissions for BSD and changes in the e-Stamping Portal. To register for the seminar, please visit IRAS website.
If you or your salespersons require further clarification pertaining to the above, please refer to IRAS’ e-Tax Guide on Buyer’s Stamp Duty on Residential and Non-Residential Properties.

[HDB] Enhanced Proximity Housing Grant

Minister for Finance, Mr Heng Swee Keat announced during the Budget Statement in Parliament yesterday that the Government will enhance the Proximity Housing Grant (PHG) to encourage married couples, singles, and their parents to live closer together, in the same flat or nearby, for stronger family support.

The enhanced PHG are summarised below:

(A)     Increase in PHG for Extended Families to Live Together

To further encourage extended families to live together in the same flat for better care and support, families who buy a resale flat to live with their parents or children (who are married or singles aged 35 and above) will now enjoy a higher-tier PHG of $30,000, up from $20,000 previously. Those buying a resale flat to live near their parents or children will continue to receive a PHG of $20,000.

(B)     Enhancement of PHG for Singles

Singles aged 35 and above who buy a resale flat to live with their parents will receive the higher-tier PHG of $15,000, up from $10,000 previously. To encourage mutual care and support, singles who buy a resale flat to live near their parents will now enjoy a new PHG of $10,000.

(C)     Simplified Proximity Condition

The proximity condition for determining what is considered as “near” will be simplified. Previously, it was defined as within 2 km or the same town. HDB will revise this to just “within 4 km”. This revision will give home buyers more options when they buy a resale flat to live near their parents or children, including in nearby towns..

The enhancements to the PHG for families and singles are summarised in this table:

Enhanced PHG for Married/Single Child and Parents

Resale Flat BuyersProximity Condition Enhancements
To Live With Parents/ChildTo Live Near Parents/Child (Within 4km)
Family$30,000$20,000
Singles aged 35 and above$15,000$10,000

The enhanced PHG will apply to eligible resale flat applications received on or after 3.30 pm, 19 February 2018. For more details, you may refer to the press release and the HDB InfoWEB.


[HDB] "Changes to Policies for the Renting out of HDB Flats and Living Quarters

HDB has announced changes to their policies for the renting out of HDB flats and living quarters of commercial properties, which will take effect from 1 May 2018.
Please Click Here for a copy of the press release that HDB has issued on the matter.
You may also refer to HDB InfoWEB at www.hdb.gov.sg/rentoutflatrules (renting out of whole flats) or www.hdb.gov.sg/rentoutroomrules (renting out of bedrooms) and www.hdb.gov.sg/LQrentingoutrules(renting out of living quarters) for information on the policy changes.

[HDB] "Implementation of HDB Resale Portal and Streamlined Resale Transaction Process

With effect from 01 January 2018, HDB implements the streamlined resale transaction process with the introduction of the new HDB Resale Portal.  The HDB Resale Portal has been launched via the HDB InfoWEB (www.hdb.gov.sg).  Flat buyers and sellers have to login using their SingPass to access the portal.

Here is a re-cap of the changes that take place:

i.      Sellers who wish to grant an Option to Purchase (OTP) from 1 January 2018 must use the new OTP form, which is available for download from the HDB InfoWEB (www.hdb.gov.sg).

ii.      Sellers must register their Intent to Sell in the HDB Resale Portal at least 7 days before granting an OTP to the buyers.  Buyers must register their Intent to Buy before the sellers grant them the OTP.  Buyers who are eligible for and intend to obtain a housing loan from HDB must have a valid HDB Loan Eligibility Letter when the sellers grant them the OTP.

iii.     The Resale Checklist for Sellers/Buyers e-Service has been discontinued from 1 January 2018.  Sellers and buyers who have submitted a Resale Checklist on or before 31 December 2017, and the Resale Checklist is still valid, need not register the Intent to Sell or Intent to Buy in the HDB Resale Portal.

iv.     The previous OTP form was valid until 31 December 2017.  Resale applications with OTPs granted before 1 January 2018 using the previous  OTP form will continue to be processed under the previous procedures, including attending a 1st Appointment at HDB Hub.  Such resale applications must be submitted to HDB by 31 March 2018.

v.     Buyers who are granted an OTP on or before 31 December 2017 (using the previous OTP form) but have not submitted a Resale Checklist, must from 1 January 2018 register an Intent to Buy before exercising the Option to Purchase.

vi.     Salespersons can continue to submit resale applications for their clients via the e-Resale system or Estate Agent Toolkit (for agencies which are subscribers).  They can also use the same facilities to submit their client’s Valuation Request (for transactions under the previous OTP) and Request for Value (for transactions under the new OTP from 1 January 2018).

vii.    Under the streamlined process, a resale transaction takes about 8 weeks (from the date of HDB’s acceptance of the resale application) to complete.  To facilitate HDB’s acceptance of the resale application, salespersons must ensure that their clients have all the relevant documents required to be attached with the resale application.  For HDB’s approval of the resale, it is necessary that their clients endorse all the documents and make the necessary payments according to the timeframe as requested by HDB.

For more information, please check out the “Frequently Asked Questions” on the HDB Resale Portal.