Whilst Singapore has one of the highest homeownership rates in the world, buying a landed property in Singapore is still out-of-reach for most Singaporeans. In fact, according to the Singapore Department of Statistics, only 5% of our population live in a landed property.
Whether it’s a terrace house, semi-detached house, bungalow or the super-luxe, good class bungalow (GCB) — a landed property in Singapore is not just a rarity, but it’s also super expensive. (Like Crazy Rich Asians-expensive.) Given its exclusivity, owning a landed property is a sign of prestige and wealth.
In this article, we take a look at the differences between the various types of landed properties in Singapore. Heck, we’ll also include a list of landed homes that you can get for $2M or less if you can stick around till the end (or you can just skimp to the bottom if that’s what you’re after).
What Is a Landed Property in Singapore?
There are a few types of landed properties in Singapore, mainly:
- Terrace house
- Semi-detached house
- Cluster house
The key difference between a landed and non-landed property is the land title; for a landed property, the plot of land that the house sits on belongs to the owner.
In other words, you own the land and can tear the house down and rebuild or redesign it to how you see fit, as long as it’s in accordance with the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Building Construction Authority (BCA) guidelines.
Unlike strata properties, every landed property in Singapore is not managed by a Management Corporation Strata Title (MCST), it also means that you don’t have to pay monthly maintenance and parking fees, and you are not bound by the typical rules set by a condominium management.
On the other hand, examples of non-landed residential properties comprise:
- HDB housing
- Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats
- Executive condominiums (ECs)
- Private condominiums
Among the list above, only ECs and condominiums are considered as strata housing. Basically, Strata-Titled homes are generally multi-storey homes. The owners jointly own the strata space and therefore have their own rights as they share ownership of the land. Any big decisions — such as selling the condo in an en bloc sale — must be collectively agreed by the owners. Note that public housing (i.e. HDB properties), do not have strata titles.
However, there are also strata-titled landed homes, or commonly known as cluster housing.
Cluster houses are a type of hybrid landed property in the sense that they have strata titles but they’re on landed housing estates. Think of it like a condominium where the owners share communal facilities, and pay monthly maintenance fees. But instead of high-rise buildings, they are low-rise projects comprising terrace houses, semi-d houses, bungalow homes or a mix of all three types of properties. An example of a strata landed development is Watercove in Sembawang.
Landed Property vs Non-landed Property vs Strata Landed Property (Cluster House)
Why do Singaporeans prefer landed properties over condominiums?
Having the extra space as well as the flexibility to alter the design of a landed property is a huge thing, that’s why landed properties are always more popular amongst Singaporeans, says Kenny Neo, Group Director at ERA.
“A buyer would choose a landed property over other properties if they have a choice, because overall, they own the land and have the flexibility and control over the design and maintenance of their homes. This is a huge contrast to strata-titled homes/condominiums, where the outlook of the building and facade cannot be changed.”
Types of Landed Properties You Can Find in Singapore
Earlier, we mentioned a list of landed properties in Singapore. But do you know the differences between the types of landed properties?
1. Terrace House
According to URA, a terrace house is a row of houses with at least three houses that are joined by a common wall. There are two types of terrace houses, Type 1 and Type 2. The difference between the two is the land size.
Type 1 intermediate terrace house is the bigger among the two, with a minimum plot size of 150 sqm and a plot width of 6m. A corner Type 1 house, meanwhile, has a minimum plot size of 200 sqm and a plot width of 8m.
Type 2 terrace house has a minimum plot size of 80 sqm and a minimum plot width of 6m. A Type 2 corner terrace house has the same minimum plot size as an intermediate terrace house, but with a larger minimum plot width of 8m. Read more about the differences between the two here.
2. Semi-detached House
Semi-detached houses, or Semi-Ds, are a pair of adjacent houses that’s separated by a common wall and have a minimum plot of 200 sqm. Semi-detached houses can either be attached side-by-side or back-to-back.
A bungalow house is “detached” from other houses and is one of the largest types of housing you can find in Singapore. Because the walls aren’t connected to another landed property, this offers residents more privacy and exclusivity.
Bungalows can be built in any of the designated landed housing areas (more on this below), including in semi-detached housing, mixed-landed, bungalow and GCB areas.
A bungalow outside a GCB area has a minimum plot size of 400 sqm and a maximum site coverage of 50%, whereas a bungalow in a GCB area has a minimum plot size of 1,400 sq m and a maximum site coverage of 40%. You can read more on the key guidelines for a bungalow house here.
4. Good Class Bungalow (GCB)
GCBs are the pinnacle of Singapore properties and are the most prestigious and exclusive type of landed housing in Singapore.
There are two things that distinguish GCBs from bungalows: size and location.
GCBs have a minimum site area of 1,400 sqm, with a maximum site coverage of 40%.
To preserve their exclusivity, prestige and character, GCBs can only be built in 39 gazetted areas in Singapore. These are usually located in prime and popular areas such as Chatsworth, Cluny Road near the Orchard Road shopping belt, Ridley Park off Tanglin Road, Leedon Park near Holland Road, and King Albert Park off Bukit Timah Road.
Shophouses are a type of conservation building that was built between the 1840s and 1960s. They are protected by URA due to their heritage and historical value. Usually, two or three storeys high, these heritage buildings are basically terraced homes with long and narrow indoor space, and a five-foot fronting space.
In the past, the lower floor was where business activities took place, while the upper floors consisted of bedrooms for residence. In recent years, however, many shophouses have begun to double up as alternative office spaces or homes.
Shophouses in Singapore can be found in older locations such as Tanjong Pagar, Chinatown, Telok Ayer, and Amoy Street. You can find the locations of shophouses by looking at URA’s conservation area Map.
It might be very uncommon, but here’s why living in a shophouse makes sense.
6. Cluster House
As mentioned above, strata landed housing or a cluster house, is a hybrid landed property that comes with strata titles. They can be built in landed housing and GCB areas.
“A cluster house is designed to combine the privacy and spaciousness of landed properties, and the convenience of condo-like facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, and taken-care-off gardens. Cluster developments can be home to terraces, semi-detached housing, bungalows, a mix of these and share facilities within their developments.” says Bernard Wu, ERA’s Deputy Head GCB and Landed Division.
Cluster houses have a maximum site coverage of 50% outside GCB areas, and 40% within GCB areas.
Can You Build As Many Storeys As You Want to a Landed Home?
Nope. Landed properties in Singapore are zoned according to the URA’s Landed Housing Area Plan. URA says that this is to “ensure that the height of the development is sympathetic to the existing neighbourhood character”. It basically means that each zone stipulates the type of landed property as well as the maximum number of storeys allowed.
For example, if a land is zoned for three storeys, you can only build up to three-storeys (not inclusive of an attic).
You can, however, make modifications to your home (i.e. enlarging the rooms). But as mentioned previously, certain works will require you to get planning permission from URA. Learn more about the guidelines here.
Can You Redevelop a Terraced House or Semi-detached House to a Bungalow?
Yes you can, but you can only do it with the following conditions, according to URA:
- From a semi-detached house to a bungalow:
- It has to have a minimum plot size of 400 sqm and plot width of 10m
- The other semi-detached unit is capable of being redeveloped into a new bungalow in the future (minimum plot size of 400 sqm and a plot width of 10m)
- From a terrace house to a bungalow:
- The redeveloped bungalow complies with the minimum plot width of 10m and plot size of 400 sqm, and
- The adjoining terrace house qualifies to become a new corner terrace unit in future (minimum plot size of 200 sqm and plot width of 8m)
Do People Build Their Own Landed Homes, or Do They Pick From Existing Ones and Rebuild?
According to Kenny, most buyers would prefer to buy a new landed property with better conditions.
“Buyers will likely first look for a brand new landed property in a location that they want before deciding to buy an existing home and renovate it. Most buyers will only build their own house if they can’t find a suitable house in the market.”
Where Are Landed Homes in Singapore Located?
According to the Landed Housing Area Plan, there are four landing housing areas:
- GCB areas (only for GCBs and bungalows)
- Bungalow areas
- Semi-detached housing areas
- Mixed-landed housing areas
Essentially, terrace houses can only be built within mixed-landed housing areas, whilst semi-detached houses can be built in both semi-detached and mixed-landed housing zones. Meanwhile, you can build a bungalow in all areas.
“The most prestigious districts for landed homes are Districts 9, 10, 11, and 21. These locations are centralised as they are near to famous schools like Nanyang Primary, Raffles Girl Primary School, Singapore Chinese Girl School and Henry Park Primary School. Apart from those, Districts 15 and 16 in the East Coast are also popular amongst buyers too,” adds Bernard.
Can PR buy a house in Singapore?
Not inclusive of Sentosa Cove landed properties, foreigners (including Singapore permanent residents (PRs)) cannot buy landed properties in Singapore as they are reserved for Singaporeans.
However, landed properties are not completely off-bounds for foreigners. They can seek approval from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) under the Residential Property Act. The have to meet two conditions and based on a case-by-case basis:
- You must be a PR of Singapore for at least five years; and
- You must have made an ‘exceptional economic contribution to Singapore’.
As promised, here’s a list of landed properties you can buy for $2M or less:
5. The Riverina
7. Limau Villas
Want more? Check out landed properties that are under $2M or less in Singapore.
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