Can foreigners buy property in Singapore?

Why invest in a property in Singapore

Given the compelling reasons that make Singapore a lucrative choice for property investment, it is no surprise that Singapore’s properties were perceived to be “fairly valued” in a report published by investment bank UBS in 2018.

Firstly, Singapore’s property market is established upon stable political governance, sound economic policies and Singapore’s indisputable position as a commercial trading hub. The local property market is also closely monitored by the Singapore government and initiatives to prevent the formation of a property bubble are well-established. Therefore, foreign investors are assured that the value of their investment in local property will be maintained for years to come.

Secondly, Singapore’s pro-business and low-tax environment has helped put Singapore on the radar for property investment amongst foreigners. Despite the introduction of the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, the cost will be partially offset by the non-existence of capital gains and inheritance taxes. Additionally, when selling property, the only chargeable tax is the Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD), which is not only applicable within the first three years but is also relatively low.

Thirdly, the strength of the Singapore dollar can help shield part of one’s portfolio from political instability, thereby offering investors an opportunity for diversification.

Who is considered a foreign person?

A foreign person refers to any person who is neither a Singapore citizen, a Singapore company, a Singapore limited liability partnership nor a Singapore society.

Understanding the Different property types Available for Sale in Singapore

Public HDB Flats

Public Housing Development Board (Public HDB) flats, are built with the intention of making affordable housing available to the ordinary Singaporean. Therefore, they are heavily subsidized and regulated by the government and buyers can use their CPF grants to further lessen the burden of making a purchase. However, Public HDB flats come with several notable eligibility requirements that must be met. Families who wish to buy Public HDB flats must:

1. Have an average monthly income of S$6,000 to S$12,000;

2. Have one (1) listed occupant who is a Singapore Citizen or Permanent Resident, and

3. Comply with the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) of five (5) years.

The various types and specifications of Public HDB flats available are listed below:

Public-Private Hybrids

Public-Private Hybrids share both public and private housing features. These are usually purchased by individuals or households who are able to afford Public HDB flats but are not ready to purchase private housing.

The various types and specifications of Public-Private Hybrids available are listed below:

Private Housing

Private Housing comes with a freehold status and have significantly fewer purchase requirements but are more costly than Public HDB flats. They can be categorized into: Non-landed and Landed Private Housing.

Non-landed Housing refers to housing that is built on land not owned by the buyer. Landed Housing refers to housing that is built on land not owned by the buyer.

Property which a foreigner requires to seek approval to purchase?

Generally, each foreign applicant will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration, including but not limited to, whether the foreign applicant has been a permanent resident of Singapore for at least five years and whether the foreign applicant has made exceptional economic contribution to Singapore. Economic contribution is appraised through the consideration of the foreign applicant’s employment income and assessable tax in Singapore.

The following properties require approval to purchase:

– 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; and
– Worker’s dormitory/serviced apartments/boarding house (not registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act).

Property for which a foreigner can purchase without approval?

However, certain properties do not require approval to purchase. They include:

– 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;
– Commercial-use shophouse;
– Industrial and commercial properties; Hotel (registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act); and
– Executive condominium unit, HDB flat and HDB shophouse.

Stamp duty for foreigners buying property in Singapore

Buyer Stamp Duty (BSD) a Requirement for all Property Buyers

The Buyer Stamp Duty (BSD) is a tax levied on all property buyers regardless of nationality who purchase any property and it is dependent on the purchase price or market value of the property (the ‘Base’). Generally, the more expensive the purchase price or market value of the property, the higher the BSD Rate.

Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) a Requirement for foreigners

The Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) is a tax levied on the purchase of residential property and is in addition to the BSD and is only applicable to the following buyers:

– A Singapore citizen who already has ownership of a residential property and wishes to acquire another;
– A Permanent Resident; or
– A foreigner.

Essentially, the ABSD affects everyone except Singapore Citizens who are buying their first property.

Yet, if i) you are a foreigner or Permanent Resident married to a Singaporean Citizen and ii) do not own any residential property, the ABSD will not be chargeable. It can also be refunded if you are switching residential properties as a married couple. However, the first ABSD-paid property must be sold within six (6) months after the i) date of purchase of the second property (if completed); or ii) Temporary Occupation Permit (whichever is earlier).

Foreigners Eligible for ABSD Remission under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)

Nationals of the United States of America, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland will be granted the same tax treatment as Singapore Citizens due to the Free Trade Agreements signed with the United states of America and the European Free Trade Association. Therefore, the ABSD will be not be chargeable for listed nationalities on their first residential purchase and their second, third & subsequent residential purchases will be taxable at 12% and 15% respectively.

Except for the Sentosa Cove waterfront Bungalows, the ABSD Remission only applies to Non-landed Private Housing.

Can a foreigner apply for a Home Loan in Singapore (All you need to know)?

Foreigners can apply for a home loan in Singapore.

Regardless of the institution that provides the loan, foreigners must possess an excellent credit standing to be awarded a loan. Onshore foreigners must have a good credit score as a bad score may lead to unnecessary delays, while offshore foreigners must be able to show proof of income and net worth. Therefore, a preparation of the latest certified true copy of your proof of income and notice of assessment is of the essence. For self-employed individuals, proof of earning and net worth statement must be provided. In addition, a passport copy, identification card and the property’s Option to Purchase or Sales and Purchased Agreement should be prepared as well.

Other factors to consider when applying for a loan is the In-Principal Approval and the Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio.

The In-Principal Approval states the maximum amount and tenure of the loan and is provided by the bank. Foreigners can enjoy a tenure of up to 35 years for freehold properties and 75 years for leasehold properties.

The Loan-to-Value (LTV) Ratio is the amount of mortgage loan you can apply for and it is dependent on the property’s market value. Without an existing mortgage loan, it is possible to take up a loan of almost 75% of the property’s purchase price. However, if a foreigner has an existing mortgage loan(s) the amount decreases to 45% for 2 existing loans and 35% for 3 or more existing loans.

Buying a Property to Invest in Singapore? 4 Reasons for Foreigners to buy a new launch condominium in Singapore for investment

Newness

New launches are pleasing to the eye as both the interior and the façade of new launches are guaranteed to look spanking new. More importantly, new launches are usually an “upgrade” of older condos as they are equipped with avant-garde features not found previously. For instance, “smart” condos that allow its residents to control various elements with the touch of a button on their smartphones are slowly gaining traction. Facilities sparked by modern living that were also previously available, such as concierge services, are also starting to manifest themselves in new ones.

The attractive aesthetics and availability of newer and more advanced features found in new launch condos contribute to a better resale potential and rentability of the property in the long-run.

Lower Maintenance Costs

Wear and tear drive up the cost of property maintenance, both inside the unit and for the communal areas.

Pesky problems such as rust, mold, faulty plumbing and yellowing walls plaque the units of older resale condos. On the other hand, with a one-year defects-free period, developers are liable to correct any defects that may arise within a year from the purchase of the condo.

Older condos do not only incur high maintenance costs, but these costs may increase while providing fewer tangible returns. In other words, it may cost the same to maintain a brand-new condo than an older condo which has facilities that are in poorer condition, thereby making it more worthwhile to invest in a new launch condo.

Early Bird Discounts

Whether in the form of a direct price discount, or the absorption of stamp duties, most new launch condo developers have attractive early bird discounts to offer. While underpriced resale units may have great potential, such units are not always easily available.

Wider Range of Unit Choices

Unlike resale condos, the purchase of a new condo means that you do not have to settle for leftover units that are on sale. You get to have the first pick and having the ability to do so ensures that you are able to choose a unit that better suits your needs and your future tenants’. This will make renting out your unit a breeze when the time comes.

Buying a Property to Live in Singapore? Consider the following key places where Expats live in Singapore

Given her reputation for having the lowest crime rates in the world, praiseworthy cleanliness and efficiency, it is no wonder that Singapore is ranked one of the best countries for expats to live in. If you are looking to make Singapore your home, you may consider the following areas:

Orchard

Orchard Road is always buzzing with activity and is literally the heart of Singapore. From upscale shopping centers to restaurants that promise a gastronomic dining experience, everything that you ever need is right at your doorstep. The centrality of the location also provides access to excellent public transport links and places you in close proximity to the Central Island Expressway and Central Business District. Living in the area may come with a hefty price tag but you can be assured that the advantages of doing so makes everything worthwhile.

Tanglin

If you prefer to escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, Tanglin Road’s the area for you. Being an older and more established area, the properties in the area range from spacious houses with huge garden fronts to low rise condominiums. While bringing nature closer to you, the area also provides convenient access to the central areas of Singapore, such as Orchard Road. Additionally, Dempsey Hill, a stone’s throw away from Tanglin Road, houses art galleries, restaurants and cafes for you to unwind and relax.

Holland Village

Holland Village’s laid-back bohemian vibe and diverse dining selection makes it a classic favorite amongst expats. Enjoy a variety of delicious local fare in the large hawker centre that is located in the middle of Holland Village or step out and head to the nearby Jalan Merah Sega for more shopping and dining options. The Circle Line that is right at your doorstep takes you to various parts of Singapore in the shortest time possible.

Bukit Timah

The benefits of living in this area include being in close proximity to several international schools and social clubs such as the Japanese Association, British Club and the Bukit Timah Saddle Club. You may choose to live in one of the many properties that Sixth Avenue has to offer, from family houses with gardens to luxe condominiums.

Robertson Quay

Robertson Quay is an obvious choice amongst younger expats who seek to enjoy the vibrant nightlife offered by the row of restaurants and bars facing the Singapore River. Robertson Quay houses several ritzy new condominiums that offer splendid views of the River. On the other side of Robertson Quay sits UE Square, which is a huge residential, commercial and retail complex.

Sentosa

Sentosa Island houses some of the most luxurious sea-facing homes in Singapore. Residents also get to enjoy a plethora of recreational activities and attractions or bask in the sun at one of the many beaches without having to leave the island. At the gateway of Sentosa stands Singapore’s largest shopping malls, Vivocity, and it offers a dizzying array of retail and dining options. Therefore, many expats who desire an extravagant and unique way of living have made Sentosa Island their home.

Serangoon

Serangoon is experiencing a surge in popularity amongst expats for its wallet-friendly living options, excellent connectivity to other parts of Singapore and easy access to various international schools. Serangoon Gardens, a five-minute drive away from Serangoon, is known for its eateries, buzzing nightlife and Chomp Chomp, a hawker centre that offers Singapore’s most representative local cuisine.

Summary

Regardless of whether you are a new landlord or a seasoned investor, a good business acumen and judgement is necessary in evaluating a property before its purchase. However, the mind-boggling amount of information on the internet may be daunting, especially if you’re a foreigner making your first property purchase in the Lion City. Under the guidance of a real-estate professional who has a wealth of experience and in-depth knowledge of the local property market, you can make a sound decision today.

At Condosale.sg, your interests are our number one priority. Let us help you make your purchase decision by getting in touch with us – we are more than happy to be at your service and to provide you with any property information you require to make a better decision as well as any latest property launches.