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

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

Buying property in Singapore as a foreigner is attractive if you intend to live in Singapore for the long term. The nation’s good governance, political stability, transparency, efficiency and ease of doing business make it a popular location for foreign investments, despite the high costs of property acquisition.

But what type of property can you buy? Can a foreigner buy landed property in Singapore? Are there any new rules for buying property in Singapore? In this article, we address the eligibility criteria and steps for foreign investors buying property in Singapore.

Ready to buy a property already? Start browsing for your dream home.

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Foreigners Buying Property in Singapore: Who’s Considered a Foreigner?

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 (PRs) are also considered foreigners.

What Property Can PRs and non-PR Foreigners Buy?

What PRs can buy

What non-PRs can buy

Resale HDB flats (with another PR 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))

 

There haven’t been any new rules for buying property in Singapore for foreigners introduced as of late. The eligibility for foreigners purchasing property has remained mostly unchanged.

Under the Residential Property Act, a foreigner can buy private and public housing if they fulfil certain conditions. 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

Many foreigners are used to living in what Singaporeans would call landed homes. So begs the question: can a foreigner buy landed property in Singapore?

Foreigner Restrictions for Buying Private Property in Singapore

The answer to “Can a foreigner buy landed property in Singapore?” is yes, but only in certain areas and with special permission. You will need to write to the Land Dealings Approval Unit and apply online on SLA’s website 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.

Eligibility for Foreigners Buying Property in Singapore

Though there have been new rules for buying property in Singapore for citizens (we’re talking about the new BTO classifications as announced during the Budget 2024 speech), the eligibility criteria for PR and non-PR foreigners remain largely the same.

Both PRs 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). Even then, a non-citizen spouse, or a spouse who is a foreigner and not an PR, can only be listed as an essential occupier and not a co-owner.

1. If You’re a Non-PR Buying Alone

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

2. If You’re an PR Buying Alone

Apart from new HDB flats, PRs can’t buy a resale HDB flat alone, and can only buy resale ECs that have reached their five-year MOP. Single PRs can buy private property if they wish.

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

  • 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

  • Private property

4. If You’re an PR Buying With a Non-PR

  • A resale EC that is more than five years old

  • A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

  • Private property

5. If You’re Jointly Buying as a Non-PR Couple

  • A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

  • Private property

6. If You’re Buying as a Singaporean-Foreigner Couple

  • 2-room Flexi BTO flat in non-mature estates

  • Resale flat (except 3Gen and Prime flats)

  • Private property

When buying private property, you do not have to pay Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) if you’re a foreigner or an PR who’s married to a Singaporean and does not own any residential property.

Aside from private property, you can buy an HDB flat as a mixed nationality couple. 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, 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).

Procedures for Buying Property in Singapore

1. Use PropertyGuru’s Affordability Calculator

Now that you have a general idea of what to buy, the next step is to see if you can afford it. Use our PropertyGuru Affordability Calculator to check the maximum property affordability based on the current government regulations and property cooling measures.

[AffordabilityCalculator][/AffordabilityCalculator]

2. Check If You Need to Pay Taxes

Currently, there are no new rules for buying property in Singapore. However, foreigners are required to pay ABSD, on top of Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD), when buying private property in Singapore and the ABSD has changed over the years.

PRs have different rates, ranging from 5% to 35%, 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.

Not sure how to calculate BSD or ABSD? Use our stamp duty calculator to work out your duties payable on your new home.

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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.

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. And if there are any new rules for buying property in Singapore, they’ll be in the know and help you navigate them.

Property agents typically charge an agent fee of 1% for finding you a new home. You can find a property agent in our property agent directory.

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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 loan mortgage interest rates tend to be highly dependent on the market. You can pick between a floating or fixed rate home loan.

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 PropertyGuru Finance Mortgage Experts. From helping you land the best mortgage package suited to your financial needs to guiding you through the paperwork, they’re here to help at no cost!

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6. Make an Offer and Seal the Deal

You’ve read up on any new rules for buying property in Singapore and are up to date. You’ve browsed for the property and secured financing from a bank. Now that you have found your dream property in the HDB or private property market, it is time to seal the deal.

For those who bought HDB resale flats, log into the HDB Flat Portal to begin the process. Here is a quick outline of the timeline for an HDB resale flat:

For condominium owners, 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, pay the downpayment; depending on your LTV limit and the amount of loan you received, your downpayment can start from 25% of your property purchase price.

For foreigners, you will need to pay the downpayment in cash. For PRs, you can use a mixture of your CPF OA savings and cash. And that’s it! All the best for purchasing a property in Singapore.

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