While Singapore has one of the highest homeownership rates in the world, buying landed property in Singapore is still out of reach for many Singaporeans. In fact, according to the Singapore Department of Statistics (Singstat), only about 5% of our population lives in landed property.
From Good Class Bungalows (GCB) and cluster houses to semi-detached and terrace houses, landed property in Singapore is not just a rarity: it’s also super expensive. Given its exclusivity and price tag, owning a landed property for many Singaporeans signifies prestige and wealth.
In this article, we take a look at the differences between the various types of landed properties in Singapore and some of the criteria for owning and modifying them.
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What Are the Types of 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 flats (e.g. BTO flats, Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) units, Open Booking of Flats (OBF) units, HDB resale flats)
- Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats
- Executive Condominiums (ECs)
- Private condominiums
Among the list above, only ECs and condominiums are considered 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 upon by the owners.
Note that public housing (i.e. HDB properties), does not have strata titles.
However, there are also strata-titled landed homes, 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-detached houses, bungalow homes or a mix of all three types of properties.
Landed Property Vs Non-landed Property vs Strata Landed Property (Cluster House)
Types of Landed Properties You Can Find in Singapore
1. Terrace Houses
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 main 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 Type 1 and Type 2 terrace houses.
Browse all terrace houses for sale on PropertyGuru.
2. Semi-detached Houses
Semi-detached houses, or Semi-Ds, are a pair of adjacent houses that are 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.
Browse all semi-detached houses for sale on PropertyGuru.
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 Good Class Bungalow areas.
A bungalow outside a Good Class Bungalow area has a minimum plot size of 400 sqm and a maximum site coverage of 50%, whereas a bungalow in a Good Class Bungalow area has a minimum plot size of 1,400 sqm and a maximum site coverage of 40%. You can read more on the key guidelines for a bungalow here.
Browse all bungalows for sale on PropertyGuru.
4. Good Class Bungalows (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.
Browse all GCBs for sale on PropertyGuru.
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 spaces 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.
6. Cluster Houses
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 combines 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, or a mix of these and share facilities within their developments. They have a maximum site coverage of 50% outside GCB areas and 40% within GCB areas.
Browse all cluster houses for sale on PropertyGuru.
Why Do Some Singaporeans Prefer Landed Properties Over Condominiums?
Landed properties are an appealing option for Singaporeans due to the extra space as well as the flexibility to alter the design of the building. Moreover, you will own the land on which the property is built. This is a huge contrast to strata-titled condominiums, where the outlook of the building and facade cannot be changed.
Can You Build As Many Storeys As You Want on a Landed Property?
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 the 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 URA guidelines.
Can You Redevelop a Terrace House or Semi-detached House to a Bungalow?
Yes you can, but you can only do it with the following conditions, according to URA:
1. From a Semi-detached House to a Bungalow
- It has to have a minimum plot size of 400 sqm and a 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)
2. From a Terrace House to a Bungalow
- It has to have a minimum plot size of 400 sqm and a plot width of 10m
- 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)
You can read more about URA’s guidelines on redeveloping semi-detached and terrace houses into a bungalow.
Do People Build Their Own Landed Property, or Do They Pick From Existing Ones and Rebuild?
Most buyers in Singapore would generally prefer to buy a new landed property with better conditions than build their own house. Once they’ve chosen a preferred location, they will buy the existing home and renovate it. Most landed property buyers will only build their own house if they can’t find a suitable one in the market.
Where Are Landed Properties 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, while 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 usually located in Districts 9, 10, 11, and 21. This is due to their centralised locations and proximity to established schools such as Nanyang Primary, Raffles Girl Primary School, Singapore Chinese Girl School, and Henry Park Primary School. Other popular areas include Districts 15 and 16 in East Coast.
Can a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Buy a House in Singapore?
Not inclusive of Sentosa Cove landed properties, foreigners and most SPRs cannot buy landed properties in Singapore as they are reserved for Singaporeans.
However, landed properties are not completely off-bounds for SPRs. They can seek approval from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) under the Residential Property Act. They have to meet two conditions and based on a case-by-case basis:
- You must be an SPR for at least five years; and
- You must have made an "exceptional economic contribution to Singapore"
You can read more about the SLA rules.
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