Entrepreneurs from all over the world are starting to settle in Singapore, because the city-nation houses one of the best and technically sound workforces in the world today. At the same time, Singapore is also a wonderful place to live in and explore for anyone, provided they are familiar with the rules, regulations and limitations of the nation.
To buy a home where you will be living with your family for a long time, the purchase should be preceded by considerations beyond just the potential future value of the real estate. With private residency in focus, here’s a brief guide to buying a home in Singapore.
What are Your Options?
There are a few specific categories under which all residential properties in Singapore are divided. These would be the following:
Housing & Development Board (HDB) Flats/Apartments – Public housing facilities, only available to citizens and permanent residents of Singapore. Foreigners cannot buy them.
Private Flats & Luxurious Condominiums – Everyone has permission to buy them, including foreigners. However, foreigners usually have to pay a much higher price than locals.
Landed Bungalows – Permanent residents and citizens are allowed to buy landed bungalows just like any other residential property. Foreigners, on the other hand, can only buy them after securing special permission to do so from the government.
Executive Condominiums (EC) – A HDB flat which is 10-years or older, loses its public property status and restrictions. At that point, even foreigners are allowed to buy them, as they are now retitled as Executive Condos (EC).
Marital Status Plays a Huge Role
Strange as it may be for someone new to the country, the Singapore government has very different rules in place for dictating who can buy what, based on their current marital/family status. Check some of the important info as briefed next:
- The property owner/buyer must be at least 21-years old
- If the owner/buyer is below 35, they must have a primary or secondary family to be eligible for property purchase
- Qualifying family members needed for buying a home include either parents + siblings (primary family), or spouse + children (secondary family)
- Single, permanent residents do not have permission to buy HDB or EC properties at any point
- Single citizens without a primary family living with them are only allowed to purchase property after they become 35
- Single citizens under 35 are allowed to buy property in Singapore if they are divorced or widowed with child custody
Most of these rules are applicable on permanent residents and citizens, not foreigners. Foreigners have restrictions on them as well, but they are not related to their marital/family status.
Housing Loans and Refinancing
Property Guru is Singapore’s largest online platform for finding a home, but they have now started helping their clients with finding Singapore housing loan and mortgage refinancing options as well. Sign up with them and their housing experts will help you find the best possible financing rates in Singapore. In case you already have a mortgage, the system is designed to alert clients as soon as a better option to refinance the loan pops up.
The Cost of Housing in Singapore
There are several factors that determine the price of a house in Singapore, but back in 2018, the average price was estimated to be around US$875,000. About the factors that influence the price, they are more or less the same as they would be in any other nation. Take a quick look through them next:
- Property type
- Maturity date, age and current condition
- Access to transportation routes, nearby schools, markets, and other conveniences
- The buyer: Foreigners pay more, while citizens have to pay the least, but permanent residents can find bargain deals as well
There would be additional expenses as well, outside of the property’s total contracted price. These include, but are not limited to:
- Buyer stamp duty (BSD): 1-3% of the property’s value
- An Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) of 5-15% could be applicable for foreigners
- Property Registration Fees: Variable, in accordance with the Singapore Land Authority
- Legal Fees: 0.3% of the property’s value, if the property’s value does not exceed SG$2 million
- Other expenses such as conservancy fees, real estate agent’s fees, maintenance fees, and home insurance premiums
To put it simply, real estate is not cheap in Singapore, but for those that can afford it, there is a lot on offer here. If you are new to the city-state, you might be surprised by how much potential it has for not just commerce, but also as a beautiful place to settle in. Try the temporary occupation license if you wish to rent a home and give the whole experience a trial first, before investing serious money in buying local real estate. You will find the application link on the SLA website itself.