HK Government steps in to close stamp duty loophole

The Hong Kong Government yesterday (April 11th) stepped in to close a local stamp duty loophole in a bid to further cool the rising property prices in the residential market.  For first-time buyers of residential property in Hong Kong the stamp duty on their “first sales and purchase agreement” was based on the lower rate of stamp duty (typically between 1.5% to 4.25%).  First-time buyers were using this existing loophole to buy multiple units under one legal agreement, whilst only paying the lower rate of stamp duty.  The HK Government moved to close this loophole, and any first-time buyers buying multiple units will be subject to the higher 15% stamp duty.   The measure was effective as of midnight on 11th April, so effectively the 12th April as a working day.  How this will curb prices remains to be seen, but in the short term is sure to act as a partial deterrent to people buying multiple units.  Whether this helps local first time buyers looking for their first home remains to be seen. The Hong Kong market still has a strong demand dynamic which is not met by the current housing supply. That coupled with a low  interest rate environment continues to keep the first-hand residential market busy.  Hong Kong continues to be the world’s most expensive real estate market, far outpacing London, New York and Sydney.

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