What You Need to Know if You’re Buying Property in Singapore as a Foreigner (2022)

What You Need to Know if You’re Buying Property in Singapore as a Foreigner (2022)
What You Need to Know if You’re Buying Property in Singapore as a Foreigner (2022)

Known for its good governance, political stability, transparency, efficiency and ease of doing business, Singapore is a popular location for foreign investments. Therefore, one of the biggest questions among foreign investors is, “Can foreigners buy property in Singapore?”

The short answer is yes, however, who is considered a foreigner?

Who Is Considered a Foreigner? 

Simply put, you’re considered a foreigner if you are not a Singapore citizen, a Singapore company, a Singapore limited liability partnership or a Singapore association. As such, Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs) are also considered foreigners. 

What Foreigners Can and Can’t Buy

What Singapore PRs can buy What non-Singapore PRs can buy
Resale HDB flats (with another Singapore PR or Singaporean) Private condos
Resale ECs that have reached their 5-year MOP Private ECs
Privatised ECs Landed properties in Sentosa Cove
Private condos Landed properties (with special permission from Singapore Land Authority)
Strata-landed homes  
Landed properties in Sentosa Cove  
Landed properties (with special permission from Singapore Land Authority  

Under the Residential Property Act, a foreigner can buy both public housing and private properties. However, there are restrictions on what foreigners can and can’t buy. 

Public/Public-Private Hybrid Homes

The public housing market falls under the Housing and Development Board (HDB) with certain restrictions.

Note that both Singapore PRs and non-Singapore PRs are restricted from buying new HDB flats such as Build-to-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBFs) as singles (you have to be married to a Singapore Citizen).

There are also several conditions:

Eligibility for Foreigners Buying Property in Singapore

1. If You’re a Non-Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Buying Alone

You can only buy a privatised executive condominium (EC) that is more than 10 years old. 

2. If You’re a Singapore PR Buying Alone

Apart from new HDB flats, Singapore PRs can’t buy a resale HDB flat alone, and can only buy resale ECs that have reached their 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). 

3. If You’re a Singapore PR Jointly Buying With Another Singapore PR

  • A resale HDB flat (3 years after obtaining your PR)
  • A resale EC that is more than five years old
  • A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

4. If You’re a Singapore PR Buying With a Non-Singapore PR

  • A resale EC that is more than five years old
  • A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

5. If You’re Jointly Buying as a Non-Singapore PR Couple

  • A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

Buying Property as a Singaporean-Foreigner Couple

If you are wondering whether you can buy a property as a mixed nationality couple, you can!

You are allowed to purchase only a 2-room Flexi BTO flat in non-mature estates or any type of resale flat (excluding 3Gen flats and Prime Location Public Housing resale flats).

But, does a Singaporean-foreigner couple have to pay Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)? The good news is that, if you’re a foreigner or an SPR who’s married to a Singaporean, and you don’t own any residential property, you don’t need to pay ABSD.

Related article: Buying Your First Home as a Singaporean-Foreigner Couple: What’s Different?

Private Properties

Unlike public housing, private properties have much lesser restrictions and are probably what you’ll be more favourable to buying. They also come with better fittings, and designs and are generally closer to the Central Business District (CBD). If you’re buying a private condominium, they also come with facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, saunas, and more. The flip side is that they are more expensive compared to public housing. 

Foreigner Eligibility for Buying Private Property in Singapore

Here are the common property types that foreigners are eligible to buy:

  • An apartment or condominium unit
  • A strata-landed house in an approved condominium development
  • A leasehold estate in a landed residential property for a term not exceeding seven years, including any further term which may be granted by way of an option for renewal
  • A landed property on Sentosa Cove

Foreigner Restrictions for Buying Private Property in Singapore

There are certain restrictions for foreigners when buying a landed property on the main island of Singapore.

As such, you will need to write to the Land Dealings Approval Unit when looking to purchase the following:

  • 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 (e.g. townhouse or cluster house)
  • Shophouse (for non-commercial use)

The approval is on a case-by-case basis. Applicants stand a better chance if they can show proof that they have made an “exceptional economic contribution to Singapore”, as SLA puts it.

You can apply online on SLA’s website. Alternatively, you can visit them at the following address: Taxpayer and Business Service Centre, Level 1, Revenue House. Do note visits to the Service Centre are strictly by appointment only.

Procedures for Buying Property in Singapore

Step 1: Use the PropertyGuru’s Affordability Calculator

Now that you have a general idea of where to buy, the next step is to see if you can afford it.

Here, you can use our PropertyGuru Affordability Calculator to check the maximum property affordability based on the current government regulations and property cooling measures. This will only take around five minutes.

Step 2: Check If You Need to Pay Taxes

Foreigners are required to pay Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD), on top of Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD), when buying private property in Singapore. Here are the foreigner ABSD rates on or after 16 Dec 2021.

You can use this tool to calculate how much stamp duty you need to pay for your Singapore property.

BSD Rates

BSD rates depend on the purchase or market value of the property.

First $180,000 1%
Next $180,000 2%
Next $640,000 3%
Remaining amount 4%

ABSD Rates

Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) buying first property 5%
Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) buying second property 25%
Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) buying third and subsequent properties 30%
Foreigner buying any property 30%

SPRs have different rates depending on the number of residential properties purchased. Meanwhile, a foreigner ABSD rate of 30% applies regardless of the number of residential properties purchased.

However, there is no need to pay ABSD for US nationals or nationals and Permanent Residents from Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.

Aside from these costs, also note you need to factor in legal fees and other administrative fees too.

Step 3: Go Through PropertyGuru’s Listings

Our listings provide a comprehensive selection of resale HDB flats, ECs and private condos as well as new private property launches to suit your budget and desired location.

As a general guide, you should consider proximity to nearby amenities, such as MRT stations, parks, economic drivers and ease of commuting to work as part of your selection criteria.

Step 4: Hire a Property Agent

An agent can help you scout for the best deals, do your financial calculations, settle your paperwork and other nitty-gritty details. They will typically charge an agent fee of 1%.

Step 5: Apply for a Bank Loan

Foreigners are only eligible for a bank loan in Singapore.

You can get up to 75% financing on the property’s purchase price. Bank loans are subjected to floating rates meaning their interest rate can go higher or lower. Do note that bank home loans highly depend on the market.

Banks are also very strict should you default on your repayments and will not hesitate to repossess your home. Thus, it’s advisable to set aside at least 12 months of savings, just in case.

Step 6: Make an Offer and Seal the Deal

Now that you have found your dream property in the HDB or private property market, it is time to seal the deal.

For HDB resale flats, you will need to log into the HDB Resale Portal with your SingPass. You may refer to the resale procedure on the HDB website.

For condominiums, you will need to put down an option fee of 1% of the purchase price, secure financing and pay the remaining option fee of 4% within a month. After this, you will need to place a downpayment of 15% in cash and/or CPF for SPRs.

For foreigners, you will need to pay this in cash. Subsequently, you need to pay the remaining 5% in cash while the rest will be loaned by the bank.

For more property news, content and resources, check out PropertyGuru’s guides section

Looking for a new home? Head to PropertyGuru to browse the top properties for sale in Singapore

Need help financing your latest property purchase? Let the mortgage experts at PropertyGuru Finance help you find the best deals.  

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What you must know before buying Singapore property…

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