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How Couples Can Own 2 Properties in Singapore Without Paying ABSD

Are you a married couple looking for ABSD remission? Follow this article to learn more about the latest ABSD norms and how you can avoid paying ABSD.

Own A Property In Singapore And Would Like to Avoid ABSD
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Property purchase in Singapore is lucrative, especially for couples, as they can own two properties without paying an additional stamp duty rate.

Since couples have two individuals, each can purchase a residential or private property while co-sharing the purchase price and other applicable rates at the time of purchase.

But what about Additional Buyer Stamp Duty or ABSD, are they exempted from paying it?

When couples start their marital journey, most of them aim for residential properties from government housing developers like HDB flats.

However, as the family expands over the years, these couples look for a subsequent property like a condominium unit for larger space.

In short, ABSD will automatically filter into the property purchase as the couple will purchase their second property.

But can couples own two properties without paying ABSD?

This article will explain ABSD liabilities and ABSD remission for married couples, which will help couples to buy a second property without ABSD.

But before jumping to our strategy, let’s learn more about the basics of ABSD and who needs to pay it.

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What Is ABSD?

The Singapore government issues various cooling measures to curb multiple property purchases by foreigners, Singapore citizens, and Singapore permanent residents.

One of these cooling measures is ABSD, which levies a tax on top of stamp duty on residential property purchases.

After its introduction in December 2011, ABSD discouraged buyers who purchased multiple properties and turned them into commercial properties to reap more profits.

Furthermore, the government altered the ABSD rate environment over the years to curb inflation in property prices, depending on the market conditions.

For instance, a Singapore permanent resident will have to pay an aggregate ABSD rate based on the property valuation of his second property.

These rates are also applicable for other buyers, including foreigners and Singapore citizens, and cover different property types like terrace houses or condominium units.

In short, you cannot escape ABSD for subsequent purchases unless you are a married couple who can alter purchase agreements to avoid paying ABSD.

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Who Needs To Pay ABSD And How Much Is It?

As mentioned earlier, the Singapore government introduced ABSD to discourage entities and foreigners from purchasing subsequent properties to curb rising property prices in the residential property market.

The government introduced a high ABSD rate on the purchase of 2 or more properties, which discouraged even the richest investors from purchasing the 2nd property.

For instance, a property costing $2 million would attract $600,000 for a foreign buyer at an ABSD rate of 30%.

Furthermore, entities will have to pay an additional non-remittable ABSD rate of 5%, increasing the total ABSD rate to 40%.

These measures forced foreign buyers from property investments in Singapore, which controlled the sale of housing units and their prices in Singapore till 2020.

However, the pandemic sparked a new heatwave in property prices, increasing property prices throughout the country.

Here is a chart that will help you understand who needs to pay ABSD according to the latest norms.

Buyer’s profile

ABSD (According to the latest norms)

Singapore Citizen (1st property)

Nil

Singapore Citizen (2nd property)

17%

Singapore Citizen (3rd property and more)

25%

Singapore Permanent Resident (1st property)

5%

Singapore Permanent Resident (2nd property)

25%

Singapore Permanent Resident (3rd property and more)

30%

Foreigner (residential property)

30%

Entities (Business trust or company)(any property)

35% + 5% additional non-remittable ABSD rate for housing developers

Trustee (residential property)

35%

 

From the above chart, you can understand that ABSD can become a substantial amount even for a Singapore citizen.

For instance, if a Singaporean buys a 2nd property for $2 million, he will have to pay $340,000 in ABSD.

Likewise, a Singapore permanent resident will have to pay 25% ABSD for his 2nd property and 30% for his 3rd and subsequent properties.

However, married couples comprising of a Singapore citizen and permanent resident can benefit from ABSD remission conditions if they do not have existing properties.

Additionally, these couples can apply for ABSD remission on their second property, provided that they sell their existing property within a period of six months.

Determining ABSD Liability

ABSD liability depends on some basic principles, including the buyer’s profile and the number of properties registered under his name.

These parameters decide how much ABSD is applicable for a specific buyer according to the latest ABSD norms.

For instance, a buyer purchasing a residential property and transferring the property into living trusts will have to follow the 35% rate of ABSD (Trust).

Furthermore, the buyer can apply for ABSD remission if a transfer on sale happens between individual beneficiaries.

To help you understand more, here are the factors that determine ABSD liability.

Individual or Entity

The first and foremost ABSD liability is to understand whether the buyer is an entity or an individual.

For instance, when you talk about an entity, you can assume that the buyer is not the sole owner.

In short, an entity can be:

  • A trustee-manager or representative for a business trust
  • A trustee or custodian for collective investment schemes
  • A partnership association comprising two or multiple partners
  • An unincorporated consortium

Although ABSD rates comply with the buyer’s profile, in some cases, applicable ABSD rates will consider the buyer’s profile that has the highest ABSD rate, especially if there is a joint purchase.

In short, an entity will have to pay more if one of its member’s profiles has a higher ABSD rate.

Buyer’s profile

As mentioned above, a buyer’s profile plays a significant role in determining the ABSD rate on a property purchase.

For instance, a buyer must fall under the Singapore citizen or permanent resident category issued by the ICA (Immigration and Checkpoint Authority).

Since Singapore citizens and permanent residents can enjoy lower ABSD rates, these buyers pay less than foreign investors or entities.

However, your citizenship or PR status must reflect before the property purchase date to get lower ABSD liability.

Property count

The property count of a buyer also determines how much ABSD he will have to pay for property purchases as per the latest economic fundamentals.

For instance, a Singapore citizen does not pay any ABSD tax on his first property but will have to pay 17% of ABSD on his 2nd property.

Likewise, beneficial owners holding properties in trusts will have to adhere to the latest ABSD norms.

In short, you can count a property under a buyer if

  • A purchase agreement signed between a buyer and seller indicates that the property is now under the buyer, even if legal transactions like initial payment are yet to happen.
  • A buyer is the joint or partial owner of a property (20% property share).
  • The buyer receives a property (held in trust) as a beneficial owner.
  • A buyer purchase two or more properties in a single transaction.
  • A buyer receives a property (like an Executive Condominium or resale flat) as an inheritance, settlement, or gift.
  • A buyer owns an HDB shop with permission to use a portion of the shop for residential use.

However, properties owned by a buyer located outside of Singapore do not hinder the property count.

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What Is ABSD For 2nd Property?

ABSD is part of several cooling measures employed by the Singapore government to reduce property prices and discourage buyers from purchasing three or more properties.

Although ABSD proved to be vital in controlling property prices, the pandemic escalated the prices, making them inaccessible for the common man.

So how much ABSD do you need to pay for your 2nd property?

Since ABSD rates depend primarily on the buyer’s profile, you can calculate the amount based on the profile.

For instance, a Singapore citizen will have to pay 17% of ABSD for a 2nd property, while Singapore permanent residents must pay 25% of ABSD for their 2nd property.

Likewise, a foreign buyer will have to pay 30% of ABSD, while entities must pay 35% for 2nd properties.

A housing developer purchasing a property for investment purposes will have to pay an additional 5% of non-remittable ABSD on top of the standard 35% rate.

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Determining ABSD Liability

How Do I Avoid ABSD For A Second Home?

Although ABSD rates are unavoidable, you can escape them if you fulfill certain conditions.

Here are the conditions where you can avoid ABSD for a second property.

Your second home is a private property

Married couples often opt for HDB flats as their first abode as they are cheaper than other alternatives.

However, as your family grows, you might want to upgrade your space without getting into the complexities of ABSD.

For instance, purchasing a new Executive Condominium saves you from paying ABSD upfront, which means you are no longer required to sell your existing property within six months.

However, you may have to pay the resale levy on your existing HDB flat.

You sell your existing property before signing your new home’s OTP

One of the most straightforward ways of avoiding ABSD is to sell your existing property before signing your new home’s OTP or Option to Purchase.

This process will clear the property under your name, meaning your second property will become your first.

However, you might have to arrange a temporary abode or rent a place till you get the keys to your new home.

Free Trade Agreement countries

Although foreigners have to pay a fixed ABSD rate of 30% for any property, permanent residents or citizens of some selected countries fall under the Free Trade Agreement list.

In short, these buyers enjoy identical rates to Singapore citizens and pay lower ABSD rates than other foreigners.

These countries are:

  • United States of America
  • Liechtenstein
  • Switzerland
  • Iceland
  • Norway

Decoupling

Married couples who purchased a property jointly can use the decoupling method to get ABSD remission.

For instance, the decoupling method allows you to transfer your property share to your partner, making you an individual without any property.

However, the transfer process is not free, and your partner will have to buy the shares, including payment for stamp duty (BSD) for the procured property.

Buy under one partner’s name

Married couples who are purchasing their first property can buy the property under one partner’s name to allow the other partner to purchase a subsequent property.

In short, the other partner will have no properties under his name, making him eligible for ABSD rates levied on the first property.

However, your partner must have enough CPF funds and cash to fuel the property purchase, including down payment and monthly mortgages.

You can contact a mortgage broker or visit the e-stamping portal for more details.

Commercial properties

Unlike residential properties, commercial units do not have ABSD (Additional Buyers Stamp Duty on commercial property), meaning you can earn more without incurring more tax.

However, commercial properties are expensive and require a more substantial down payment and cash outlay, including a 7% GST charge.

Dual-key units

Dual-key units are properties that have two units abreast without the price of two separate units.

Since authorities consider dual-key units as a single property, you can avoid paying ABSD on such properties.

However, dual-key units cost more than other properties, and you might have to pay up to 25% more to purchase one.

Can You Own 2 Private Property In Singapore

Can You Own 2 Private Property In Singapore?

You can buy two private properties in Singapore as long as you fulfill the property conditions.

For instance, you will have to purchase a private property first and then select a different private unit as your second property.

However, if your first property is an HDB flat and you intend to buy a condo, you will have to complete the Minimum Occupation Period or MOP for your HDB flat to purchase the condo.

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Own A Property In Singapore And Would Like to Avoid ABSD?

Here are the ways you can avoid paying ABSD on a property purchase in Singapore.

  • By purchasing an EC or Executive Condominium
  • By investing under a trust
  • By using the decoupling method
  • By purchasing a dual-key unit
  • By purchasing a commercial property

Besides these techniques, married couples can also avoid ABSD by purchasing a property under one partner’s name, leaving the other partner eligible for property purchases.

You can consult a property agent for more information regarding a subject property, late payment terms, modes of payment, and the stamp duty on lease of residential property.

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How To Buy Your Next Property Without ABSD

Since the Singapore government introduced ABSD, purchasing subsequent properties has become more demanding.

For instance, buyers will have to pay revised ABSD rates for purchasing properties, starting from 5% to 40%.

However, you can purchase a property without ABSD using some tactics like decoupling, purchasing under a trust, or buying your property under one partner’s name.

Would You Consider Decoupling To Finance A Second Property

ABSD remission for married couples

Married couples can benefit from various tactics to get ABSD remission while purchasing properties.

These conditions also apply to foreigners who marry Singapore permanent residents or citizens and don’t have any residential property under their name.

Furthermore, Singaporean married couples can also get ABSD refunds when switching homes, provided that you sell your first property within six months after you purchase the second property.

You can visit the IRAS website or contact a property agent and make payment via fund transfer to learn more about the latest ABSD remission norms.

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