If you’re a foreigner reading this, first of all, THANK YOU for your interest in buying a property in Singapore.

Whether you’re already living in Singapore and looking to buy a more permanent home, or a foreigner looking to invest with perhaps a long-term plan of relocating here, I welcome you, and want to help.

If you’re still in an exploratory stage, you can read this: Top 10 Reasons Foreigners Move To Singapore

Hence, I prepared this resource to cover the A to Z of Buying Property in Singapore as a Foreigner.

By the end of it you’ll become a ‘mini-expert’ yourself.

If you’re still in an exploratory stage, you can read this: Top 10 Reasons Foreigners Move To Singapore

This resource is going to be topical, so I recommend you bookmark it for easy reference whenever you forget something.

I’ll also update it if there are changes in rules & regulations.

Here’s what will be covered:

  1. Can Foreigners Buy Property in Singapore?
  2. What are the Property Taxes for Foreigner Purchase? (Stamp Duty & More…)
  3. Where are the Popular Locations for Expats and their estimated Pricings?
  4. The Home Buying Process (How to Buy!)

Also at the end, I’ve compiled the answers to the most Frequently Asking Questions (FAQs).

Let’s Get Started!

Scope: This article will cover mainly the residential property segment in Singapore only.

Can Foreigners Buy Property in Singapore?

Short answer: Yes!

And that even includes Freehold property.

However, restrictions do apply: Foreigners cannot buy landed property in Singapore.

(Note – If you happen to be a Permanent Resident (PR) reading this, you too are considered a Foreign Person under the Residential Properties Act.  You may apply to the Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU) for approval to purchase, taking into consideration, including but not limited to: 1) being a PR of Singapore for at least five years, 2) and you must make exceptional economic contribution to Singapore. This is assessed taking into consideration factors such as your employment income assessable for tax in Singapore.) Source – SLA

Still, if Singapore’s mostly high-rise condominium living isn’t your cup of tea, not to worry, the restriction does not totally eliminate ‘living in a house on land’ for you.

There is a type of housing in Singapore known as Cluster Houses, Town Houses, or Strata Landed.

They often take the shape of landed property (can be terraces, or even bungalows, duplex or triplex), within an approved condominium development.

That means a gated compound, and access to shared facilities for all the residents.

The 2nd restriction: No Public Housing

Through the Housing and Development Board (HDB), the Singapore Government has created one of the most successful public housing systems in the world.

At its core are HDB flats, which number more than a million across 23 towns and 3 estates.

As part of its policy to ensure that Singaporeans will have access to quality and affordable housing, the government controls supply tightly, provides subsidies, and even offers cash grants to eligible households.

Unfortunately for foreigners, this means HDB flats are out of bounds for you to purchase.

Within the umbrella of ‘Public Housing’, we also have Executive Condominiums.

Introduced by the HDB as a hybrid of public and private housing, Executive Condominiums (ECs) fill the gap between HDB flats and Private Condominiums.

In terms of structure and facilities, ECs are very similar to their private counterparts.

However, like HDB flats, there are also subsidies and grants available to buyer.

Hence, Executive Condominiums are also not available for foreigner purchases.

But there are also exceptions.

  • If you’re a foreigner with a Singapore Citizen spouse, HDB does have a Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme which you can qualify for purchasing resale HDB flats.
  • Executive Condos, after 10 years from completion become full privatised and eligible to Foreigners to purchase.

See below for an easy to digest summary.

What are the Property Taxes for Foreigner Purchase?

Now that you know what you can and cannot buy as a foreigner, the next question you probably have is how much it will cost.

Besides for the property price, other important associated costs are Property Taxes.

There are 2 different types of Property Taxes.

The first, are Stamp Duties, which are payable when there is a change of ownership in the property.

When buying, you have the Buyer’s Stamp Duty and the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty.

See below tables for the latest rates and explanation.

  • Buyer’s Stamp Duty Rate Table

Purchase Price or Market Value of the Property

Tax Rate (%)

First $180,000

                 1%

 Next $180,000

                 2%

 Next $640,000

                 3%

 Remaining Amount

                 4%

A simplified mathematic formula to calculate the Buyer’s Stamp Duty are as follows:

Purchase Price or Market Value of the Property SGD $1M or below, (3% X Price) – $5,400

Purchase Price or Market Value of the Property above SGD $1M, (4% X Price) – $15,400

  • Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty Rate Table

 Profile of Buyer

Since 6 Jul 2018

Singapore Citizens (SC) buying first residential property

 Not applicable

SC buying second residential property

12%

SC buying third and subsequent residential property

15%

Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) buying first residential property

 5%

SPR buying second and subsequent residential property

 15%

Foreigners (FR) buying any residential property

20%

For completeness and comparative purposes, I have also included the rates for Singapore Citizens and Singapore Permanent Residents.

As you can see, even Singapore Citizens are not spared from the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty from the second property onwards.

When selling property, Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD) applies if the disposal is done within the holding period.

  • Seller’s Stamp Duty Rate Table

 Holding Period

SSD Rate (on the actual price or market value, whichever is higher)

Up to 1 year

 12%

More than 1 year and up to 2 years

 8%

More than 2 years and up to 3 years

4%

 More than 3 years

 No SSD payable

Beyond these transfer taxes, there are also regular Property Tax payments payable annually.

It is applied on a progressive scale and calculated based by multiplying the Annual Value of the property with the applicable rate.

The AV of buildings is the estimated gross annual rent of the property if it were to be rented out, excluding furniture, furnishings and maintenance fees. It is determined based on estimated market rentals of similar or comparable properties and not on the actual rental income received. – Source: Inland Revenue of Singapore

  • Owner-Occupier Property Tax Rates

Annual Value ($)

Effective 1 Jan 2015

Property Tax Payable

First $8,000

0%

 $0

Next $47,000

4%

$1,880

First $55,000

$1,880

Next $15,000

6%

$   900

First $70,000

$2,780

Next $15,000

8%

$1,200

First $85,000

$3,980

Next $15,000

10%

$1,500

First $100,000

$5,480

Next $15,000

12%

$1,800

First $115,000

$7,280

Next $15,000

14%

$2,100

First $130,000

$9,380

Above $130,000

16%

 
  • Non-owner-occupier Residential Tax Rates

Annual Value ($)

Effective 1 Jan 2015

Property Tax Payable

First 30,000

10%

$3,000

Next $15,000

12%

$1,800

First $45,000

$4,800

Next $15,000

14%

$2,100

First $60,000

$6,900

Next $15,000

16%

$2,400

First $75,000

$9,300

Next $15,000

18%

$2,700

First $90,000

$12,000

Above $90,000

20%

 

If the above tables look like a handful, just remember the most important one that applies to Foreigners: the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty Rate of 20%.

Besides that, the other taxes apply similarly regardless of buyer profile.

And, good news, No Capital Gains Tax in Singapore.

Popular Expat Locations in SG & Estimated Pricings

If you’re already dreaming of living the life in Singapore as portrayed in Crazy Rich Asians, this section is sure to make you excited.

Despite taking only slightly more than an hour to travel from one end of the country to the other, Singapore is home to many popular expat enclaves, each with its own unique flavour.

In this article, I’ll pick 3 of my favourites for further elaboration, along with some of the properties you can buy, their estimated pricings, and size.*

1. Orchard

With a high concentration of luxury brands, high end restaurants and neon lit buildings, Orchard Road is Singapore’s most famous shopping street.

Its name is synonymous with the rich and famous… and not just for the shopping.

Globally renowned medical facilities at Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Camden Medical Centre also attract the well-heeled with their best-in-class healthcare.

The American Club and Tanglin Club are also in the vicinity.

Unsurprisingly, prices of property here are some of the most expensive in Singapore.

S$6,840 psf, or S$20.542M for a 3,003 sqft unit at The Marq at Paterson Hill in 2011, till today still stands as the highest psf record in the country.

Property Name2 Bedrooms3 Bedrooms4 BedroomsTown House (TH)/
Penthouse (PH)
Bishopsgate ResidencesN/A$9 M + / $3,500 psf+
2433 sqft 
$10 M – $17 M / $3,700 psf+
2917 – 4607 sqft
TH – $25 M / $3,900 psf
6372 sqft
Nouvel 18$3.9 M – $4.6M / $3,000 psf+
1335 – 1539 sqft
$4.7M – $6.2M / $3,000 psf+
1582 – 1862 sqft
$7.4M – 9.4M / $3,000 psf+
2476 – 2820 sqft 
PH – $35.8 M / $5,555 psf
6458 sqft
Cairnhill 16$2.8 M – $3M / $3,600 psf+
775 sqft
$3.8 M – $4.9M / $3,600 psf+
1055 – 1292 sqft
$6.3 M – $6.7M / $3,600 psf+
1744 sqft
N/A

2. River Valley

Located not too far South ward from Orchard is River Valley.

Distinctively different from Orchard Road, there are few large modern shopping malls in the area.

Instead, you get a mostly residential enclave with a good mix of shophouses and standalone retail outlets offering a unique blend of lifestyle, food, and beverage options.

Along the banks of the Singapore River, you also have Robertson Quay, an entertainment gem with nightlife, cultural performance areas and clubs.

It is an area that appeals to both young and old, with prices cheaper than Orchard by 10-20%.

Property Name2 Bedrooms3 Bedrooms4 BedroomsTown House (TH)/
Penthouse (PH)
Canninghill Piers
(Coming Sept 2021)
To Be Determined
Rivière$2.2 M – $2.5M / $2,600 psf+
818 – 840 sqft
$2.8 M – $4.5M / $2,300 psf+
1141 – 1711 sqft
$5.2 M – $6.3M / $2,600 psf+
2002 sqft
N/A
The Avenir$2.3 M – $2.8M / $2,800 psf+
807 – 829 sqft
$3.2 M – $5.4M / $2,800 psf+
1141 – 1572 sqft
$6.2 M – $8.1M / $3,000 psf+
2056 – 2411 sqft
N/A

3. Bugis

Previously a much forgettable locale, Bugis has over the last 7-8 years transformed into one of the most sought-after Districts in Singapore.

Led by Singapore’s first JW Marriott Hotel in South Beach in 2016, then Andaz Singapore Hotel by Hyatt at Duo Tower in 2017, the 2 buildings and their hotel components have added much needed fresh vibrancy to the aging area.

The rejuvenation continues in line with our Singapore government’s plan for the area to be a lively, Arts, Learning and Heritage district.

As the transformation continues, so have demand, and accordingly, prices… which have doubled since a decade ago.

Ultimately, what Bugis can offer to its residents is something unlike any other.

A truly diversified mix of local delights, historical significance, and upmarket choices around every corner.

Property Name2 Bedrooms3 Bedrooms4 BedroomsTown House (TH)/
Penthouse (PH)
South Beach Residences$3.6 M – $4.4M / $3,300 psf+
990 – 1216 sqft
$5.68 M / $3,179 psf (LAST ONE)
1787 sqft
N/APH – $19 M / $4,285 psf
4446 sqft
Midtown Modern$2.065 M / $3,252 psf (LAST ONE)
635 sqft
$2.3 M – $2.9M / $2,500 psf+
904 – 1066 sqft
$3.7 M – $5.8M / $2,500 psf+
1432 – 1808 sqft
PH – $14.1 M / $4,315 psf
3272 sqft
The MMostly small units, 1 Bedroom + Study fr. 527 sqft, $1.5 M
2 Bedrooms fr. 592 sqft, $1.7M
2 Bedrooms + Study fr. 732sqft, $2.1M
Avg Psf $2,800+

*All prices and sizes of units indicated are subject to availability

The Home Buying Process

If you would like to get started, the easiest way of course, is to Get in Touch with me. 😊

As a specialist in the market, I am able to guide you through the entire process of acquiring your first home in Singapore.

For an overview, read on.

There are 2 main parts: The Search process, and the Transaction process.

The Search Process

This is where you look for properties to buy.

A common source of course, is Google, where a quick search for ‘properties for sale Singapore’, delivers the following results.

These are online Real Estate Marketplaces like say… Zillow in the United States, Rightmove for the UK, and realestate.com.au by REA Group in Australia.

If you have searched for homes on an online marketplace in your home country, how the Singapore websites work should be very familiar to you.

Browse listings. Contact the Lister. Arrange a Tour. Like the unit? Negotiate Price and Terms.

On the other hand, if your preference is to window shop with brokerages on the street, that type of market presence is largely missing from the Singapore landscape.

Most searches are online.

Then, after you’ve found that property and agreed terms, the transaction process differs for new, still under construction developments, and completed properties.

The Transaction Process: New, Under Construction

Day 0: Where you pay 5% of the purchase price to book the unit and receive an Option to Purchase (OTP) from the seller.

Within Day 0+2 weeks: Receive the Sales & Purchase agreement (S&P)

Day 0+2+3 weeks: Execute the S&P within 3 weeks of receipt, with stamp duties to be paid within 14 days thereafter.

Up to Day 0+8 weeks: Remaining 15% paid to complete the purchase.

See below.

For the remaining 80% payment, it depends on the stage of construction, in accordance with the following milestones:

Milestone

Payment
(as % of purchase price)

Completion of foundation work

10%

Completion of reinforced concrete framework of unit

10%

Completion of partition walls of unit

5%

Completion of roofing/ceiling of unit

5%

Completion of door sub-frames/ door frames, window frames, electrical wiring, internal plastering and plumbing of unit

5%

Completion of car park, roads and drains serving the housing project

5%

Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP)

25%

Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC)

15%

Note that at TOP, that is when keys are distributed, and owners can take possession of the unit.

However, legally, only upon CSC is when the unit title is transferred to the owner.

One benefit of buying new properties is during that first year, there is a Developer’s Warranty which covers unit defects.

Depending on the scale of the project, the entire building process can take anywhere from 2 to 5 years.

In Singapore, this new launch condo sale process is regulated by the Controller of Housing and is standard for all such properties.

The Transaction Process: Completed Property

Key difference to New: The terms & conditions are entirely flexible.

Unlike buying a new launch property which is strictly regulated by our Singapore authorities, a completed property purchase is a private agreement and hence every detail such as the option fee, exercise period, completion length and even contractual terms can be negotiated!

Still, there are some market guidelines which are often followed:

Day 0: Where you pay 1%-5% of the purchase price to book the unit and receive an Option to Purchase (OTP) from the seller.

Day 0+2 weeks+: Commonly 2 weeks, this is the time you have to execute the option. Where buyers are taking a loan, the mortgage is confirmed with the bank during this period. For those who do not need any financing and are paying fully in cash, they can even proceed to the next step immediately.

Execute the Option: Pay to seller the remaining sum, typically ranging from 4%-15% as indicated in the Option. Stamp duties to be paid within 14 days thereafter.

Completion: Day 0 + 10-12 weeks. Complete the rest of the payments to the seller, and collect the keys to the unit.

Whether buying new or completed, you’ll need a property lawyer to manage the entire transaction, which include distributing payments to the relevant stakeholders, checking if the property might have any encumbrances which can prevent its sale, and above all, transferring the title to your name.

This typically costs about 0.3% of the purchase price.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Yes. Under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Nationals or Permanent Residents of the following countries will be accorded the same Stamp Duty treatment as Singapore Citizens i.e., 0% ABSD for the first property.

  1. Nationals and Permanent Residents of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, or Switzerland
  2. Nationals of the United States of America

For apartments and condos under a Management Corporation, there will be maintenance fees and sinking fund contributions monthly. These help with the upkeep of the common facilities. Amount varies from property to property and are usually in accordance with the share value of your unit.

You heard correctly! Sentosa is one location in Singapore where foreigners can get approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU) to buy a landed home. However, it is restricted only for owner occupation and not for rental or any other purpose.

Local Singapore banks will take your source of income into consideration. If income is from own business or local company in your country, then it’s likely not recognised. If company is a multinational comparation, likely to be eligible.

If you have a high volume of assets but no income, a mortgage loan can still be obtained by means of pledging a certain amount of funds with the local bank.

So, definitely possible, with a loan to value of up to 75%.

Thank you for coming to the end of the article, I hope you have found value in it.

If you would like to kick start your process of buying a property in Singapore as a foreigner, I am happy to support you from start to finish.

My agent fees for buying varies.

In most cases, you don’t have to pay anything as it’s covered by the seller. 

At times it be up to 1/2% depending on the scope of services required.

Please Contact Me with your current situation so we can set up a chat to discuss further.