What You Need to Know if You’re Buying Property in Singapore as a Foreigner

·7-min read
What You Need to Know if You’re Buying Property in Singapore as a Foreigner
What You Need to Know if You’re Buying Property in Singapore as a Foreigner

Known for its good governance, political stability, transparency, efficiency and ease of doing business, Singapore is a popular location for foreign investments. Therefore, one of the biggest questions among foreign investors is: "can foreigners buy property in Singapore?"

The short answer is yes, however, who is considered a foreigner?

Who is considered a 'foreigner'?

Simply put, you're considered a foreigner if you are not a Singapore citizen, a Singapore company, a Singapore limited liability partnership or a Singapore association. As such, Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs) are also considered foreigners.

What foreigners can and can't buy

What Singapore PRs can buy

What non-Singapore PRs can buy

Resale HDB flats (with another Singapore PR or Singaporean)

Private condos

Resale ECs that has reached their 5-year MOP

Private ECs

Privatised ECs

Landed properties in Sentosa Cove

Private condos

Landed properties (with special permission from Singapore Land Authority)

Strata-landed homes

Landed properties in Sentosa Cove

Landed properties (with special permission from Singapore Land Authority

Under the Residential Property Act, a foreigner can buy both public housing and private properties. However, there are restrictions on what foreigners can and can't buy.

Public/Public-Private Hybrid Homes

The public housing market falls under the Housing and Development Board (HDB) with certain restrictions. Note that both Singapore PRs and non-Singapore PRs are restricted from buying new HDB flats such as Build-to-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBFs). There are also several conditions:

Eligibility

Here are several property types that foreigners are eligible to buy:

1. If you're a non-Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) buying alone:

You can only buy a private executive condominium (EC) that is more than 10 years old.

2. If you're a Singapore PR buying alone:

Apart from new HDB flats, Singapore PRs can't buy a resale HDB flat alone, and can only buy resale ECs that have reached their 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

3. If you're a Singapore PR jointly buying with another Singapore PR:

  • A resale HDB flat (3 years after obtaining your PR)

  • A resale EC that is more than five years old

  • A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

4. If you're a Singapore PR buying with a non-Singapore PR:

  • A resale EC that is more than five years old

  • A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

5. If you're jointly buying as non-Singapore PR couple

  • A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

Private properties

Unlike public housing, private properties have much lesser restrictions and are probably what you'll be more favourable in buying. They also come with better fittings, designs and are generally closer to the Central Business District (CBD). If you're buying a private condominium, they also come with facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, saunas, and more. The flip side is that they are more expensive compared to public housing.

Eligibility

Here are the common property types that foreigners are eligible to buy:

  • An apartment or condominium unit

  • A strata landed house in an approved condominium development

  • A leasehold estate in a landed residential property for a term not exceeding seven years, including any further term which may be granted by way of an option for renewal

  • A landed property on Sentosa Cove

Restrictions

There are restrictions when buying a landed property on the main island of Singapore.

As such, you will need to write to the Land Dealings Approval Unit when looking to purchase the following:

  • Vacant residential land

  • Terrace house

  • Semi-detached house

  • Bungalow/detached house

  • Strata landed house which is not within an approved condominium development under the Planning Act (e.g. townhouse or cluster house)

  • Shophouse (for non-commercial use)

The approval is on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants stand a better chance if they can show proof that they have made an “exceptional economic contribution to Singapore”, as SLA puts it.

How to apply

You can contact SLA at 6478-3444, or apply online on SLA’s website.

Alternatively, you can visit them at the following address: Land Dealings Approval Unit, Singapore Land Authority, 55 Newton Road, #12-01 Revenue House, Singapore 307987

Procedures for buying property in Singapore

Step 1: Use the PropertyGuru's affordability calculator

Now that you have a general idea of where to buy, the next step is to see if you can afford it.

Here, you can use our PropertyGuru Affordability Calculator to check the maximum property affordability based on the current government regulations and property cooling measures. This will only take around five minutes.

Step 2: Check if you need to pay taxes

Foreigners are required to pay Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) when buying private property in Singapore.

SPRs buying their first residential property will need to pay an ABSD rate of 5% and 15% for their second and subsequent residential property.

Meanwhile, foreigners will need to pay an ABSD rate of 20% regardless of the number of residential properties purchased.

Calculate how much stamp duty you need to pay for your Singapore property

However, there is no need to pay ABSD for US nationals or nationals and Permanent Residents from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.

You also need to pay a Buyer's Stamp Duty (BSD) and Mortgage Duty whether you are buying from the public or private housing markets.

Do also note you need to factor in legal fees and other administration fees.

Step 3: Go through PropertyGuru's listings

Our listings provide a comprehensive selection of resale HDB flats, ECs and private condos as well as new private property launches to suit your budget and desired location.

As a general guide, you should consider proximity to nearby amenities, MRT stations, parks, economic drivers and ease of commuting to work as part of your selection criteria.

Get more insights on the right locations for your new home at AreaInsider

Step 4: Hire an agent

An agent can help you scout for the best deals, do your financial calculations, settle your paperwork and other nitty-gritty details. They will typically charge an agent fee of one percent.

Looking to buy a home in Singapore? Speak to one of PropertyGuru’s preferred property agents and get advice

Step 5: Apply for a bank loan

Foreigners are only eligible for a bank loan in Singapore.

You can get up to 80 percent financing on the property's purchase price for the first property and 60 percent for the second and subsequent property.

Bank loans are subjected to floating rates meaning their interest rate can go higher or lower.

Banks are also very strict should you default on your repayments and will not hesitate to repossess your home.

Thus, you need to set aside at least 12 months of savings, just in case.

Step 6: Make an offer and seal the deal

Now that you have found your dream property in the HDB or private property market, it is time to seal the deal.

For HDB resale flats, you will need to log into the HDB Resale Portal with your SingPass.

You may refer to the resale procedure on the HDB website.

For condominiums, you will need to put down an option fee of one percent of the purchase price, secure financing and pay the remaining option fee of four percent within a month.

After this, you will need to place a downpayment of 15 percent in cash and/or CPF for SPRs.

For foreigners, you will need to pay this in cash.

Subsequently, you need to pay the remaining five percent in cash while the rest will be loaned by the bank.

More FAQs Related to Can Foreigners Buy Property in Singapore:

Can Foreigners Buy Resale HDB flat in Singapore?

Generally, a SPR can only buy a resale HDB flat with another Singapore Citizen or SPR under two schemes: the Public Scheme, which is buying with family (i.e: spouse, children, siblings, parents), or the Fiance/Fiancee Scheme, which is well, your fiance or fiancee.

In other words, a single PR can't buy an HDB resale flat alone.

Can Foreigners Get a Home Loan in Singapore?

Yes, foreigners can get a home loan. You can get up to 80% of the purchase price or value, whichever is lower.

Can Foreigners Buy Freehold Properties?

Yes, foreign buyers can purchase both freehold and leasehold private condos in Singapore, but they need to pay an Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) of 20%.

For more property news, resources and useful content like this article, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section.

Are you looking to buy a new home? Head to PropertyGuru to browse the top properties for sale in Singapore.

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