The so-called ‘sandwich-class’ housing bill passed its second and final reading at the Legislative Assembly (AL) yesterday, the Macau Post Daily reports. Its aim is to get middle-income young people onto the housing ladder.
The new law will take effect on 1 April 2024. First proposed in 2020, the sandwich-class housing scheme will apply to permanent residents who are not eligible to buy a flat under Macao’s oversubscribed subsidised home-ownership scheme (HOS) but cannot afford a flat in the private housing market either.
At the plenary session, Secretary for Transport and Public Works Raimundo do Rosário confirmed that Macao’s first round of sandwich-class housing would be in the form of two residential buildings on Avenida Wai Long, near the airport, TDM reported.
He said that there would “definitely be less [units offered] than initially planned” for the plot, because the area had originally been earmarked for HOS housing – which consists of smaller units. The government had previously indicated it would build up to 10,000 sandwich-class housing units.
Rosário stressed that it was too soon to discuss price points for the new housing initiative. “Don’t be impatient – we need to take things slow,” he said.
The law states prices will be set at a discount rate – when compared to nearby private sector housing – that’s determined by the Chief Executive through an executive order.
Income thresholds will apply. Under the new law, the minimum income requirement will be 50 percent of the maximum income cap for HOS applicants. The maximum income cap will be 10 percent higher for sandwich-class housing applicants.
Applicants will face the same age limits as applicants for HOS flats: individuals must be at least 23, while residents applying with family members must be at least 18.
Rules around prior property ownership will also apply, and owners of sandwich-class flats will not be able to resell their property on the private market for the first 16 years after purchase. Even then, sales can only be made to permanent local residents.
Sandwich-class housing will be allocated via a points-based system, in accordance with the new law. Applicants will be ranked on various eligibility factors, then placed on a waitlist. The government has not confirmed when the first intake will open, but has said the process will be by e-application only.
Once all available flats in an application round have been allocated, the wait-list will be voided. Unsuccessful applicants will have to start from scratch in the next intake.