Property buying guide for foreigners

 Are you a foreigner looking for property in Singapore? Learn more about eligible property types, affordability, and restrictions for foreign buyers.

foreigners in Singapore
foreigners invest

Singapore offers a lucrative property market that allures thousands of foreigners to purchase residential and commercial properties.

Although the recent hikes in applicable ABSD rates have soared purchase prices more than ever, Singapore remains a haven for foreign buyers.

So why do foreigners invest in property in Singapore?

What types of real estate can foreigners buy in Singapore?

What taxes do foreigners need to pay when buying a property in Singapore?

If you are a foreigner looking to purchase a commercial or residential property in Singapore, you have landed on the right page.

This article will answer all your questions and help you determine the essentials you need to consider before making a private housing market deal.

cluster houses in Singapore

Why do foreigners invest in property in Singapore?

As we mentioned earlier, Singapore offers lucrative investment opportunities like Australian properties, making it one of the top destinations for property investments.

In fact, the Union Bank of Switzerland perceived Singaporean properties as fairly valued, justifying the interest of foreigners.

Here are the three main reasons why foreigners invest in property in Singapore:

1. Established property market

Singapore has an established property market as the Singaporean government monitors and offers sound economic policies to benefit foreign buyers.

Additionally, the government monitors housing developers and private housing prices to prevent asset price bubbles.

In short, foreign buyers can reap significant benefits from their investment and get a better income ratio over the years.

2. Low tax environment

Although foreigners have to pay an additional non-remittable ABSD rate, there are no inheritance tax and capital gains tax on their property.

This low tax environment makes Singapore the perfect option for property investment as you can reap higher benefits over the years.

Additionally, foreigners can sell their existing property by paying a lower Seller’s Stamp Duty.

The SSD is only applicable for the first three years and is lower than in other countries.

3. Economic impact

Singapore’s economy offers diverse property deals, allowing foreign buyers to maintain their portfolios.

Additionally, the economic impact and the Singapore dollar’s strength allow foreigners to adjust their investment and reap benefits by offering multiple opportunities.

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foreigners have to pay when purchasing

Who is defined as a ‘foreigner’ in Singapore?

According to the Singapore Land Authority, a person or entity who is neither a Singapore permanent resident nor a Singapore citizen will fall in the foreigner category.

Incorporated entities also fall under this category and will be termed as foreigners.

Although the foreigner tag becomes a loophole for foreign buyers, they can avail property benefits if they follow the rules.

Additionally, foreigners married to Singapore citizens or permanent residents can enjoy a lower aggregate ABSD rate while performing subsequent purchases.

foreigners in Singapore

What types of real estate can foreigners buy in Singapore?

Singapore categorizes units of housing accommodation into two categories – non-restricted and restricted properties.

While foreigners can buy non-restricted properties, they will have to seek approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit or LDAU to purchase restricted properties.

Furthermore, foreigners will have to fulfill some conditions to seek approval from the LDAU. These conditions include:

  • Foreigners must be Singapore permanent residents for not less than five years.
  • Foreigners must contribute to Singapore’s economy.
  • Foreigners will have to provide employment income and qualify for tax liabilities in Singapore.

Once the LDAU approves your consent, you can purchase restricted properties like terrace houses, bungalows, and semi-detached houses.

Here is the list of non-restricted properties foreigners can buy in Singapore.

  • Condominium units
  • Strata shop unit
  • Flats, including a resale flat
  • Shophouses
  • Commercial and industrial properties
  • Hotels

Additionally, a foreigner can purchase an HBD flat or Executive condominium unit, provided that the subject property has been privatized and fulfills the Housing Development Act.

Check affordability of property.

Singapore offers private apartments at different price ranges.

However, foreign buyers have to surmount some hurdles before purchasing properties in Singapore.

Here are the things you need to consider before purchasing a property in Singapore.

Properties eligible for foreign buyers

According to the Residential Property Act of Singapore, foreign buyers cannot buy a former or deceased Singapore citizen’s property.

Additionally, foreigners cannot purchase HBD flats or Executive condominium units as these properties fall under the restricted category.

However, a married couple comprising one foreigner and a Singapore citizen or PR can purchase a property with lower ABSD rates.

They can also apply for a bank loan to buy a property for investment or residential purposes.

Married couples can even register for a separate property as their subsequent purchase.

Furthermore, foreigners who have permanent residence status can purchase HDB flats and private condos after getting formal approval from the Land Authority of Singapore.

Financial limits

After you apply for a housing loan, banks will review your loan contract and conduct an analysis on property price and value to determine the LTV rate environment.

In short, a Loan-To-Value ratio is a primary tool for determining a property’s value and worth.

Besides traditional loans, you can also use an HDB concessionary loan or your CPF savings to purchase a property.

However, you will have to meet some requirements like maintaining a single contract of sale to qualify for these options.

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Does it make a difference if I’m a Singapore permanent resident (SPR)?

Singapore permanent residents get more privileges than foreigners and can purchase a residential or investment property with lower ABSD rates.

You can apply for permanent resident status if you have an active work pass holder and have worked for at least 6 months.

Once the government approves your PR status, you can reap tax and financial benefits and use your CPF fund for health care, family protection, and homeownership.

The PR status also helps while burrowing housing loans, allowing you to purchase your dream condo with minimal fuss.

Additionally, you can buy resale HBD flats at a lower rate on purchases.

foreigners invest

What taxes do foreigners have to pay when purchasing a property in Singapore?

Before performing an asset purchase, foreign buyers must fulfill some conditions.

The Singapore government introduced ABSD (Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty) to discourage foreigners from purchasing restricted properties in Singapore.

ABSD was one of the cooling measures adopted by the Singaporean government to secure economic fundamentals.

ABSD underwent many revisions, with the latest rates climbing to 30% for foreign buyers.

Additionally, entities will have to pay 5% of additional ABSD when purchasing properties in Singapore.

This rate for entities is non-remittable and are the applicable council rates for residential and commercial properties.

In short, it would be best to contact a real estate agent or a property lawyer for stamp duty purposes.

Cost of buying a house in Singapore

The business of housing development is booming in Singapore as prices for landed housing and private properties reach astronomical figures.

While it can be challenging to find the perfect abode or private flat, you can purchase a property in Singapore after thorough research.

Here are the average costs for different properties in Singapore.

HBD flats

Since the Singaporean government offers subsidized housing options, HBD flats are one of the most affordable properties in the country.

For instance, a 2-room flat will cost around $300,000, while you can get a 3-room flat for $450,000.

Likewise, 4BR apartments can cost between $500,000 to $600,000, while you can purchase a 5-room flat for $620,000.

However, the final prices can alter for various reasons like remission conditions (including remission for development), time of purchase, or capital appreciation.

Additionally, HBD flats are eligible for consideration for stamp duty as Singapore citizens do not pay ABSD for their first property.

This condition can also lower the purchase price, allowing you to buy your property at a lower cost.

Condominium units

Condominium units are private properties ranging from basic condo flats to executive units.

These properties feature various amenities like gardens and pools and can cost up to $1,100,000.

Landed properties

Landed properties are perfect for foreign buyers or those looking for luxury homes.

These properties are expensive and often come with multiple luxury features you can get from a house.

Landed property can cost between $3,168.077 and $9,566,667 and includes terrace houses and bungalows.

Can foreigners apply for mortgages in Singapore?

Singapore is a lucrative option for many foreign buyers as you can purchase a residential or commercial property to earn rental income.

While you can take a housing loan for property purchases in Singapore, you can also apply for mortgages at a variable or fixed rate.

Here are the things you need to consider to get a mortgage.

Paperwork

You will have to submit valid ID proof and updated income documents to the banks.

After receiving your documents, banks will determine the maximum loan amount that you can take.

These documents include income tax assessments, updated CPF statements, and signed OTP or S&P agreements.

Mortgage Process

The next step is to find a mortgage professional or banker and submit your documents.

The mortgage banker will evaluate your details and determine the maximum loan amount.

Fees

You will have to pay several fees to buy a property. These fees include:

  • Option to Purchase fees
  • Downpayment
  • Legal fees for conveyance services
  • ABSD and Buyer’s Stamp Duty
  • Valuation fee
  • HDB fees

What are foreigners restrictions?

Foreigners have to pay more ABSD and require various documents to purchase a property in Singapore.

For instance, foreigners will have to seek approval from the Singapore Land Authority to buy properties.

Likewise, they have to meet several conditions before buying a property.

Here are the restrictions for foreign buyers when purchasing a property in Singapore:

  • Foreign buyers can only purchase a private EC or executive condominium if they buy alone. Additionally, the EC has to be over ten years old.
  • Foreign buyers will require approval of the LDAU before purchasing properties like strata-landed houses and vacant residential lands.
  • Foreigners require permission to purchase a shophouse like a ground floor shop or shop with living quarters if they use it for non-commercial purposes.
  • Foreigners will have to prove that they have contributed to the Singaporean economy before becoming eligible for property purchases.

Female foreigners married to Singapore citizens can avail the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme and purchase HBD resale flats.

However, the couple must ensure that the spouse disposes of any previous properties registered in her name.

real estate can foreigners buy

Can foreigners buy cluster houses in Singapore?

The purchase and sale of housing units work differently for foreign buyers than buyer Singapore permanent residents or buyer Singapore citizens (SC).

For instance, foreign buyers can only purchase cluster houses in a condo development like Robertson Quay after the LDAU’s approval.

In short, the eligibility depends on the property’s status, and it would be best to consult a property lawyer or firm before making a purchase.

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