Guide to Buying Singapore Property as a Foreigner

By Lin Zhiqin / The Edge Property | June 10, 2016 12:00 PM SGT
A foreign person means any person who is not a:
  • Singapore citizen
  • Singapore company
  • Singapore limited liability partnership
  • Singapore society
Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) are also considered foreign persons.
What can properties can foreigners buy?
In general, foreigners can buy commercial and industrial properties, and residential properties except landed residences.
A foreign person can purchase the following types of properties without special approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit of Singapore Land Authority:
  • Condominium unit
  • Flat unit
  • Strata landed house in an approved condominium development
  • A leasehold estate in a landed residential property for a term not exceeding 7 years, including any further term which may be granted by way of an option for renewal
  • Shophouse (for commercial use)
  • Industrial and commercial properties
  • Hotel (registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act)
  • Executive condominium unit, HDB flat and HDB shophouse
A foreign person will require approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit of Singapore Land Authority before they can purchase the following types of properties:
  • 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 (eg. townhouse or cluster house)
  • Shophouse (for non-commercial use)
  • Association premises
  • Place of worship
  • Worker’s dormitory/service apartments/boarding house (not registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act)
Procedure for purchase of private residential property
Permanent Residents buying resale HDB flats
SPRs are eligible to buy HDB flats on the resale market, subject to the HDB Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) and SPR quota.
The Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) helps to maintain a good ethnic mix in HDB estates, thereby helping to promote racial integration and harmony. It applies to all HDB flats.
The Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) quota was implemented to better integrate SPR families into the local community. Malaysians are excluded from this quota because of their close cultural and historical similarities with Singaporeans.
Buyers need to ensure that they are within the EIP proportion for the block/ neighbourhood, and if applicable, the SPR quota as well.
Household’s Citizenship
Proportion and/ or Quota to Meet
Singapore Citizen (SC) household(At least 1 SC is listed as buyer)
EIP
Malaysian SPR household(At least 1 Malaysian SPR listed as a buyer, and no SC is listed as a buyer)
EIP
Non-Malaysian SPR household(All buyers are non-Malaysian SPRs)
EIP and SPR
SPR Quota for Non-Malaysian SPR households:
  • Neighbourhood: 5%
  • Block: 8%
You can use HDB’s e-Service to check if you are eligible to buy an HDB resale flat in a particular block or neighbourhood under the EIP and SPR quota.
The EIP and SPR quota are updated on the 1st of every month, and will apply to all complete resale applications received during that month. The buyers and sellers must meet the eligibility conditions under the EIP and SPR quota at the point of submitting the complete resale application. A resale application is deemed as complete only when HDB receives both the buyers' and sellers' portions of the resale application.
There is no restriction on the sale and purchase of an HDB flat if:
  • The proportion of the buyers' ethnic group/ SPR quota is within the prescribed block/ neighbourhood limits
  • The buyers and sellers are of the same ethnic group and/ or citizenship type
SPRs are eligible to buy HDB flats on the resale market under the following schemes:
  • Public scheme
Criteria
Details
Citizenship
The buyer must:
  • Be an SPR of at least 3 years
  • Include at least 1 listed occupier who is an SC or SPR of at least 3 years
21 years old or above
Family nucleus
To form a family nucleus with 1 of the following groups:
  • Spouse, and children (if any)
  • Parents, and siblings (if any)
  • Children under legal custody, care, and control (for widowed/ divorced persons)
  • Fiance and fiancée scheme
Criteria
Details
Citizenship
The fiancé and fiancée must be either:
  • SCs
  • SPRs of at least 3 years
Age
21 years old or above
Family nucleus
The fiancé/ fiancée must be listed in the application as either:
  • A co-applicant (if 21 years old or above)
  • An occupier
Special conditions
1. Registration of MarriageThe couple must:
  • Register their marriage with the Registry of Civil Marriages or Registry of Muslim Marriages (as applicable)
  • Submit the marriage certificate to us within 3 months from the resale completion date
2. If Applying for CPF Housing GrantThe couple must submit their marriage certificate on or before the resale completion date.3. Consent of Parents
  • If the buyer under this scheme is between 18 and 21 years old, his or her parents must agree to the purchase
  • If the buyer under this scheme is below 18 years old, a Special Marriage Licence must be obtained from the Ministry of Social and Family Development and submitted to us for verification
4. DivorceesThe buyer is required to produce the following for verification:
  • Interim Judgment (previously known as Decree Nisi)
  • Order of Court
  • Final Judgment (previously known as Decree Nisi Absolute)
  • Non-citizen spouse scheme
Criteria
Details
Citizenship
The buyer must be an SC
Age
  • If the buyer is 21 years old or above, the spouse must have a
  • or
  • . The pass must be valid for at least 6 months, and valid at the time the application to buy a resale flat is submitted
  • If the buyer is 35 years old and above, the spouse must have a
  • or
  • . The pass can have a validity period of less than 6 months. However, it must be valid at the time the application to buy a resale flat is submitted
Note: If the Visit Pass or Work Pass expires during the transaction to buy a resale flat, it must be renewed and valid by the time of the resale completion date.
Family nucleus
The non-citizen spouse must be listed in the application as an occupier.
  • Non-citizen family scheme
Criteria
Details
Citizenship
The buyer must be an SC
Age
21 years old or above
Family nucleus
To form a family nucleus with 1 of the following groups:
  • Parents, and siblings (if any)
  • Children under legal custody, care and control (for widowed/ divorced persons)
At least 1 parent/ child must have a valid Long Term Visit Pass or Work Pass. The pass must be valid for at least 6 months and valid at the time the application to buy a resale flat is submitted.Note: If the Visit Pass or Work Pass expires during the transaction to buy a resale flat, it must be renewed and valid by the time of the resale completion date.
SPRs are also eligible to buy Executive Condominiums (EC) from the resale market.
Procedure for purchase of resale HDB flat and resale EC
Stamp duty
Stamp duty is payable on the purchase of all properties, within 14 days from the date of exercise of the Option to Purchase (OTP) for completed properties and within 14 days from the date of the Sale and Purchase agreement (S&P).
  • Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) is computed based on the purchase price or market value of the property, whichever is higher
  • Buyer needs to pay BSD of 1% on the first $180,000, 2% on the next $180,000 and 3% on the remaining amount of the purchase price
  • The Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) depends on the buyer’s residency status and number of residential properties owned
  • ABSD only applies to residential properties
  • Singapore Permanent Residents need to pay 5% ABSD for the purchase of a first residential property and 10% ABSD for the second and subsequent residential property
  • Foreigners need to pay a 15% ABSD for any residential property purchased
  • Nationals and Permanent Residents of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland; and Nationals of the USA are accorded the same ABSD rates as Singapore citizens
  • Singapore citizens need to pay 7% ABSD for the purchase of a second residential property and 10% ABSD for the third and subsequent residential property
Source: SLA, HDB, URA, IRAS, The Edge Property