Must Know Guide For Foreigners Prior To Purchasing Singapore Properties

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This is simple guide which I came up to facilitate foreign buyers who are keen to purchase residential properties in Singapore to understand more about our real estates background, rules and regulations.

Background:

In the year 1973, the Singapore Government has imposed restrictions on foreign ownership of all private residential property in Singapore. Such ownership is governed by the Residential Property Act.

The Act aims to give Singaporeans a stake in the country by being able to buy and possess their own residential property at an affordable price and also encourage foreign talent by allowing permanent residents and foreign companies who make an economic contribution to Singapore to purchase such properties for their own occupation.

The Residential Property Act (RPA) is then amended on 19 July 2005 to allow foreigners to purchase apartments in non-condominium developments of less than 6 levels without the need to obtain prior approval.

For restricted property such as vacant land, landed properties such as bungalows, semi-detached and terrace houses, prior approval is still needed if foreigners wish to buy. Landed properties is a special class of residential property that Singaporeans aspire to own, and should remain restricted. Foreigners need to apply for approval from Singapore Land Authority before buying.

If you are a foreigner (or expatriate) and you wish to purchase a restricted residential property, you need to download the application form at http://www.sla.gov.sg/htm/ser/ser0307.htm#d You can submit the form together with the relevant supporting documents such as your entry and re-entry permits and qualifications to:

Land Dealings (Approval) Unit
No. 8 Shenton Way,
#27-02 Temasek Tower,
Singapore 068811

What are the restricted residential properties?

Foreign persons (including natural persons, foreign companies and societies) are restricted from purchasing:

  • Vacant land
  • Landed residential property, such as bungalows, terrace houses, semi-detached houses (With the exception of within Sentosa)
  • Strata landed residential property

Other restricted properties

  • A HDB Shophouse
  • A HDB flat purchased directly from HDB
  • A resale HDB flat
  • Executive Condominium (Prior to the first 10 years of it’s TOP)

Stamp Duties:

Buyer Stamp Duty & Additional Buyer Stamp Duty:

Foreign buyers looking to purchase residential properties within Singapore will have to note that they will be liable to pay Additional Buyer Stamp Duty on top of the typical Buyer Stamp Duty liable for any Singapore property purchase.

The only exceptions are for foreign buyers who are Nationals and/or Permanent Residents of the following countries who fall within the scope of the respective FTAs (Free Trade Agreement) will be accorded with the same treatment as Singapore Citizens.

Nationals and Permanent Residents of:-

  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway
  • Switzerland

Nationals of:-

  • United States of America

Such buyers are required to submit an application for remission so as to enjoy the same treatment as SCs.  While ABSD payment can be withheld pending approval of remission, BSD cannot be withheld.

Foreign buyers purchasing residential properties in Singapore will be levied upon a 15% Additional Buyer Stamp Duty on their purchase.

Illustration of Computation of BSD and ABSD

Assume a purchase of a property at a fair market price of $2 million by a foreign buyer and the ABSD rate of 15%* applies:

absd

Seller Stamp Duty:

Seller Stamp Duty (SSD) is imposed by the Singapore Government on sellers who buy (or acquire) residential properties and sell (or disposed of) them within four year of acquisition, as follows :

  • Holding period of 1 year : 16% of price or market value, whichever is higher
  • Holding period of 2 years : 12% of price or market value, whichever is higher
  • Holding period of 3 years : 8% of price or market value, whichever is higher
  • Holding period of 4 years : 4% of price or market value, whichever is higher

Example 1

Mr M purchased his residential property on 22 February 2011 and sold it on 25 January 2012 for $1,500,000.

  • Holding period : Less than 1 year (Sale of the property after 22 February 2015 will not be subjected to SSD)
16% of consideration or value, whichever is higher $1,500,000 x 16% $240,000
SSD payable $240,000

 

 

 

Example 2

Mr P purchased his residential property on 23 February 2011 and sold it on 25 May 2012 for $1,500,000.

  • Holding period : More than 1 year and up to 2 years (Sale of the property after 23 February 2015 will not be subjected to SSD)
12% of consideration or value, whichever is higher $1,500,000 x 12% $180,000
SSD payable $180,000

 

 

 

Example 3

Mr Q purchased his residential property on 24 February 2011 and sold it on 10 June 2013 for $1,500,000.

  • Holding period : More than 2 years and up to 3 years (Sale of the property after 24 February 2015 will not be subjected to SSD)
8% of consideration or value, whichever is higher $1,500,000 x 8% $120,000
SSD payable $120,000

 

 

 

Example 4

Mr T purchased his residential property on 25 February 2011 and sold it on 5 June 2014 for $1,500,000.

  • Holding period : More than 3 years and up to 4 years (Sale of the property after 25 February 2015 will not be subjected to SSD)
4% of consideration or value, whichever is higher $1,500,000 x 4% $60,000
SSD payable $60,000 

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Points to Ponder When Purchasing Resale or Building Under Construction Projects:

Anti-speculation measures

Some experts believe that the slew of measures to cool the red-hot property market has caused buyers to favour new homes rather than the resale market. The revised sellers’ stamp duty of up to 16 per cent, introduced in January last year, penalise home buyers who re-sell their property within four years. This gives an edge to new home sales.

Buyers of new launches know that by the time the apartment is physically completed in about three to four years, they are likely to be subject to less stamp duty or none at all if they sell it.

On the other hand, if they buy a resale home for investment, there may be some concerns with securing a tenant in the current uncertain global economic climate. Hence, this trend towards new sales remains intact even as the resale market languishes with tepid volumes.

Financing

Investors may also prefer new homes as they can enjoy a progressive payment plan in which the purchase price of the home is paid in installments based on the completion rate of the project, experts add. Buyers can, thus, spread out their payments, rather than service a housing loan of up to 80 per cent of the purchase price of a resale unit right from the start. However do note that local bank financing for foreign buyers typically falls in the range of 60-70% and require the buyers to fulfill a set of prerequisites set by the individual banks.

 

Size and affordability

Buying from the resale market has its advantage.

Older, completed projects offer units that are typically larger in size than new launches. This is due to the trend of developers pushing out smaller apartments to maintain the affordability of homes on an absolute basis even as prices in terms of per square foot have climbed steadily.

Buyers keen on acquiring larger and more affordable living spaces should, therefore, look towards well-managed resale projects.

Prices

However, having said that, having a larger size would means having a higher overall price tag compared to new launches though the PSF(Per Square Foot) will generally be lower. Resale home prices are generally lower PSF compared to new homes.

Buyers looking at resale homes may find bargains – units priced below valuation – if they spend time doing their research.

 

Instant yields

Buying a resale unit may be a good bet if it is located in a tested market, like the Central Business District. As the buyer can lease out his unit immediately he can start earning back his capital investment right away.

If the purchased resale unit is already tenanted, there is certainty in the yield. In comparison, an uncompleted home sale can provide only the projected yield.

 

The allure of new homes

New homes have many advantages such as having a unit decked out in the latest brand-name fixtures and fittings.

The bumper supply of state land has also led to a plethora of new launches with developers offering creative product offerings such as themed-condos and throwing in various sweeteners like stamp duty absorption and furniture.

Enquiry or need advice?

If you require any advice or have any enquries about Singapore property purchase, please feel free to email me at [email protected] or whatsapp me at +6594558898.


About Myself:

Ivan Koh

Associate Senior Marketing Director @ Huttons Asia Pte Ltd specializing in New Launch project sales

Mobile: 94558898

Email: [email protected]