In Singapore, the type of property you are allowed to purchase mainly depends on your residency status. Basically, Singaporeans can buy any type of property in Singapore (public and private housing). They are just limited by what they can afford. But what about Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs)?
Although PRs have fewer housing choices than Singaporeans, they are less restricted compared to non-residents (aka foreigners), who are limited to a few types of private housing.
Before we proceed with the different kinds of homes available to PRs, let us first discuss what kind of properties are off-limits to PRs, non-residents and foreigners.
Which Types of Singapore Properties Are Restricted for PRs and Foreigners?
- Vacant residential land
- Terrace homes
- Semi-detached houses
- Bungalows or detached dwellings
- Strata landed houses not within an approved condominium project (e.g. cluster homes or townhouses)
- Association premises
- Places of worship
- Serviced apartments/boarding houses/worker’s dormitories (not registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act).
Here’s a list of all restricted properties that non-Singaporean citizens and foreign entities can buy only with the consent of the authorities. Under the Residential Property Act, only a Singapore citizen, Singapore company, Singapore society and Singapore limited liability partnership are allowed to purchase landed housing in the city-state without prior approval from the government.
If you are a PR or foreigner considering buying any of the above, do apply for approval online at www.sla.gov.sg/ldau. Fundamentally, each applicant will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the following factors (other factors may also be considered):
- You should be a PR for at least five years
- You provide “exceptional economic contribution” to the country, as seen from the taxes you generate. The government may also consider your investments in Singapore, your business activities and amount of people you employ here.
What Singapore Properties Are Not Restricted for PRs?
- Condo units
- Strata landed housing in an approved condominium project
- A leasehold estate in a landed home for a term not surpassing seven years, inclusive of any extension or renewal
- Shophouses (for commercial use)
- Industrial and commercial properties
- Hotel properties registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act
- Executive condominiums (ECs), HDB flats and HDB shophouses*
*Subject to certain eligibility conditions and guidelines.
Here is a list of all properties that non-Singaporean citizens and foreign companies can buy without needing a green light from the government.
Unlike landed housing in mainland Singapore, which cannot be bought by expatriates and foreigners without approval from the government, landed houses in Sentosa Cove can be acquired by both foreigners and PRs. However, be warned that these homes are leasehold and can be pricey. That’s why it’s said that the neighbourhood is a ‘playground’ for the rich and famous.
In 2021, Sentosa Cove properties did make a ‘comeback’ during the COVID-19 pandemic and we’re seeing another resurgence. From January 2022 till June 2023, the prices of resale condo units in Sentosa Cove have surpassed that of resale condo units in mainland Singapore.
What Singapore Properties Can PRs Buy?
Three of the most common kind of residential properties here that PRs can buy are HDB flats, ECs and private condominium units. However, apart from private condos, the first two are considered government housing and PRs are restricted to certain conditions. We’ll explain further below.
Can Singapore PRs Buy an HDB Flat?
It depends. If you’re talking about an HDB flat directly purchased from HDB (i.e. a BTO flat or SBF flat), a single PR (i.e. a PR buying without a Singapore citizen) is not permitted to purchase such property.
The only way for a PR to legally buy a new HDB flat is by marrying a Singapore Citizen. If you already tied the knot with a Singapore Citizen, both of you can acquire a BTO flat via the HDB Public Scheme or the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme.
If you’re just two Singapore PRs forming a household together, you also cannot buy new, subsidised HDB flats sold by the government. But you can buy a resale flat with another Singapore PR. But both of you must have at least attained the PR status for at least three years.
A single PR also cannot purchase a resale HDB flat on his/her own.
To find out more about your HDB flat eligibility, you can read our article. Alternatively, if you do want to buy an HDB flat, you can find out your HDB flat purchase eligibility when you apply for your HDB Flat Eligibility (HFE) letter.
Even if you pass all the requirements and qualify to purchase an HDB resale flat, you can’t just buy any resale flat you want. You have to make sure you meet the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) and the Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) quotas when buying a home.
To abide by the EIP quota, you need to belong to the same race or ethnic group as the seller of the flat, and there must still be space for your ethnic group in the HDB block or neighbourhood where you plan to purchase. The quotas are updated every first day of the month. To check the EIP quota of the place where you’re buying, please visit HDB’s e-Service.
Can Singapore PR Buy an EC?
It also depends. If a PR wants to buy a new EC, then you need to marry a Singapore Citizen, on top of fulfilling other similar requirements for buying a BTO flat. You can read about the full eligibility conditions for buying a new EC on the HDB website.
But if you are talking about a resale EC, the conditions for buying are easier. In fact, you can buy one yourself; you don’t need to form a family nucleus to do so, unlike for resale HDB flats.
A fusion of public and private housing, such properties are constructed and sold by private property developers. These homes are located in developments with many amenities similar to that of private condos, like a gym, clubhouse, swimming pools and gated security.
When an EC is bought for the first time, the buyers need to fulfil a five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) as ECs are subject to HDB rules for the first decade. After the fifth year of receiving the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP), you can sell or rent out the entire EC unit to Singapore Citizens and PRs only.
After the tenth year, an EC will be considered to be fully privatised and you can sell it to foreigners. Read up on all you need to know about ECs and before you begin browsing all executive condos for sale on PropertyGuru.
Can Singapore PR Buy a Private Condo?
Compared to HDB flats and ECs, a PR could buy a new launch or resale condo, as you can afford it. Typically, private residential properties are considered to be good investments, particularly those located in prime areas and those close to amenities such as MRT stations, malls and eateries.
Browse all resale condos for sale on PropertyGuru.
But hold your houses… err I mean horses! There are other financial matters you need to know before jumping on Singapore’s property market. These involve two kinds of levies that must be paid, namely the Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) taxes.
Buyer’s Stamp Duty Rates for Singapore Permanent Residents
Whether you’re a Singapore citizen, PR or foreigner, if you buy a property in Singapore, you will need to pay BSD for documents affecting the sale and purchase of a home in the Lion City. BSD will be calculated based on the purchase price stated in the document to be stamped or the home’s market value, whichever is higher.
If you receive a monetary discount on the purchase price, it will be taken into account when considering the Buyer’s Stamp Duty, provided that the net price is still reflective of the property’s market value. Please note that the cash discount must be stated in the instrument to be stamped, otherwise, it won’t be considered when computing the BSD.
Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty for Singapore Permanent Residents
|Buyer profile||ABSD amount (rates on/after 27 April 2023)|
|SCs buying their first property||0%|
|SCs buying their second property||20%|
|SCs buying their third and subsequent properties||30%|
|SPRs buying their first property||5%|
|SPRs buying their second property||30%|
|SPRs buying their third and subsequent properties||35%|
|Foreigners buying any property||60%|
|Entities (companies or associations) buying any property||65%|
|Trustees for any residential property||65%|
|Housing developers for any residential property||35% (additional 5%; non-remittable)|
ABSD was originally imposed on 8 December 2011 by the government to tame robust property investment demand by local and foreign buyers. Another reason for its implementation is to keep houses affordable for locals and let prices increase sustainably along with economic fundamentals.
The April 2023 property cooling measures saw the latest adjustment to ABSD rates. So, if you are a PR buying your first home for $1 million, you need to pay an ABSD of $50,000 on top of your BSD.
But if you are a US citizen, consider yourself fortunate as you don’t have to pay any ABSD for your first property. Similarly, nationals of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland also are exempted as they qualify as foreigners eligible for ABSD remission under Free Trade Agreements.
You can use an online stamp duty calculator tool to figure out how much stamp duty you have to pay.
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