(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s government is “constantly reviewing” the property market environment with a pragmatic attitude, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in the latest hint at potentially easing curbs.

Conditions now are different from those that prompted the government to impose restrictions in the early 2010s, Chan said on Wednesday when asked about the possibility of lifting market control measures in a media briefing. Authorities had to suppress speculation and investment demands back then, in contrast with the lower prices and fewer sales being seen now, Chan added.

Industry participants from developers to real estate agents have been calling for the removal of certain property taxes to revive the ailing market in recent months. Hurt by surging interest rates, the city’s existing-home prices have dropped 17% from their peak in 2021. In the first-hand market, developers are offering more discounts to speed up sales.

The curbs introduced more than a decade ago include a 15% stamp duty on buyers who don’t have permanent residency, and another 15% levy on non-resident buyers and residents who already own a home. 

Midland Realty, one of the largest real estate agencies in the city, suggests the government remove these two duties that impose a total 30% of tax on foreign buyers to “increase their sense of belonging” in the city.

Some easing of home loan restrictions has already taken place. Authorities relaxed mortgage rules for first-time buyers of homes under construction last week, although analysts say the measures will do little to support prices.

Two months ago, the government loosened mortgage rules for the first time since 2009, allowing buyers to purchase apartments with lower down payments.

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