Advertisement

Foreigners Buying Property in Singapore: Eligibility Critria and 6 Steps To Follow

Foreigners Buying Property in Singapore: Eligibility Critria and 6 Steps To Follow
Foreigners Buying Property in Singapore: Eligibility Critria and 6 Steps To Follow

Known for its good governance, political stability, transparency, efficiency and ease of doing business, Singapore is a popular location for foreign investments But can a foreigner buy a property in Singapore? The short answer is yes, and therefore one of the biggest questions among foreign investors is buying property in Singapore and the steps required.

However, who is considered a foreigner and how do they buy a property in Singapore?

Foreigners Buying Property in Singapore: Who’s 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 SPRs can buy

What non-SPRs can buy

Resale HDB flats (with another SPR or Singaporean)

Private condos

Resale executive condominiums (ECs) that have reached their Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

Private ECs

Privatised ECs

Landed properties in Sentosa Cove

Private condos

Landed properties (with special permission from SLA)

Strata-landed homes

 

Landed properties in Sentosa Cove

 

Landed properties (with special permission from Singapore Land Authority (SLA))

 

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 HDB with certain restrictions.

Note that both SPRs and non-Singapore PRs are restricted from buying new HDB flats such as Build-to-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBFs) units as singles (you have to be married to a Singapore Citizen).

There are also several conditions.

Eligibility for Foreigners Buying Property in Singapore

1. If You’re a Non-SPR Buying Alone

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

2. If You’re an SPR Buying Alone

Apart from new HDB flats, SPRs can’t buy a resale HDB flat alone, and can only buy resale ECs that have reached their five-year MOP.

3. If You’re an SPR Jointly Buying With Another SPR

  • A resale HDB flat (three 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 an SPR Buying With a Non-SPR

  • 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 a Non-SPR Couple

  • A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

Buying HDB Flat as a Singaporean-Foreigner Couple

If you are wondering whether you can buy a property as a mixed nationality couple, you can!

For HDB flats, you are allowed to purchase only a 2-room Flexi BTO flat (with a 99-year lease) in non-mature estates but you would have to be at least 35 years old and meet the income ceiling of $7,000.

Or you could buy any resale flat (excluding 3Gen flats and Prime Location Public Housing resale flats) so long you are 21 years old. At the time you submit your resale flat application, if your non-resident spouse is 21 and above, they must have a valid Long Term Visit Pass or Work Pass of at least 6 months; if they are 35 years and above, they need a Visit Pass or Work Pass of any validity period.

If you’re buying an HDB flat, you will need to submit your details and apply for the HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter. Through the HFE letter, you will be able to know your HDB flat eligibility, CPF Housing Grant eligibility (and the amount you can get), as well as HDB loan eligibility (and the amount you can loan). Simply log in to the HDB Flat Portal to apply for the HFE letter.

Buying Private Property as a Singaporean-Foreigner Couple

For private properties, there are much fewer restrictions than public housing. They also come with better fittings, and 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.

But, does a Singaporean-foreigner couple have to pay Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)? The good news is that you don’t need to pay ABSD if you’re a foreigner or an SPR who’s married to a Singaporean and does not own any residential property.

Eligibility for Foreigners Buying Property in Singapore

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

Foreigner Restrictions for Buying Private Property in Singapore

There are certain restrictions for foreigners 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.

You can apply online on SLA’s website. Alternatively, you can visit them at the following address: Taxpayer and Business Service Centre, Level 1, Revenue House. Do note visits to the Service Centre are strictly by appointment only.

Procedures for Buying Property in Singapore

1. Use 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.

2. Check If You Need to Pay Taxes

Foreigners are required to pay ABSD, on top of Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD), when buying private property in Singapore.

BSD Rates Rates For Buying Property in Singapore (2023)

Purchase price/Market value

Rates for residential properties

Rates for non-residential properties

First $180,000

1%

1%

Next $180,000

2%

2%

Next $640,000

3%

3%

Next $500,000

4%

4%

Next $1.5 million

5%

5%

In excess of $3 million

6%

5%

Or just use our stamp duty calculator to work out your duties payable on your new home.

ABSD Rates For Buying Property in Singapore (2023)

SPRs buying their first property

5%

SPRs buying their second property

30%

SPRs buying third and subsequent properties

35%

Foreigners buying any property

60%

SPRs have different rates depending on the number of residential properties purchased. Meanwhile, thanks to the April 2023 property cooling measures, an ABSD rate of 60% applies to foreigners buying any residential property in Singapore.

However, there is no need to pay ABSD for US nationals or nationals and PRs from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland. You can read all the conditions for remission on IRAS.

Aside from these costs, also note you need to factor in legal fees and other administrative fees too.

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, such as MRT stations, parks, economic drivers and ease of commuting to work as part of your selection criteria.

Browse all available properties for sale on PropertyGuru.

4. Hire a Property 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 1%. You can find a property agent in our property agent directory.

5. Apply for a Bank Loan

Foreigners are only eligible for a bank loan in Singapore. You can get up to 75% financing on the property’s purchase price. Bank loans are subjected to floating rates, meaning their interest rate can go higher or lower. Do note that bank home loans highly depend on the market.

Banks are also very strict should you default on your repayments and will not hesitate to repossess your home. Thus, it’s advisable to set aside at least 12 months of savings, just in case.

If you are unsure how to navigate the home loan application process, reach out to our friendly Mortgage Experts for personalised home financing advice. From choosing the best mortgage package which suits your financial needs to guiding you through the paperwork, they’re here to help!

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 Flat Portal with your SingPass. You may refer to the resale procedure on the HDB website. Here is a quick outline of the timeline for an HDB resale flat:

For condominiums, you will need to put down an option fee of 1% of the purchase price, secure financing and pay the remaining option fee of 4% within a month. After this, you will need to pay the downpayment of 25%.

For foreigners, you will need to pay the downpayment in cash. For SPRs, you can use a mixture of your CPF OA savings and cash (of which at least 5% must be in cash).

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

Looking for a new home? Head to PropertyGuru to browse the top properties for sale in Singapore.

Need help financing your latest property purchase? Let the mortgage experts at PropertyGuru Finance help you find the best deals.