What kind of properties can a PR buy in Singapore?

The EHG provides more grant amounts to resale flat buyers

In Singapore, the type of property you are allowed to purchase mainly depends on your residency status.

Basically, Singaporeans can buy any type of properties in Singapore (public and private housing). They are just limited by what they can afford.

Although Singapore Permanent Residents (PRs) have fewer housing choices than Singaporeans, they are less restricted compared to non-residents, 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 type of Singapore properties are restricted to PRs and foreigners?

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.

Below is the list of all restricted properties that non-Singaporean citizens and foreign entities can buy only with the consent of the authorities.

  • Vacant residential land
  • Terrace home
  • Semi-detached house;
  • Bungalow or detached dwelling;
  • Strata landed house not within an approved condominium project (e.g. cluster homes or townhouse)
  • Association premises
  • Place of worship
  • Serviced apartments/ boarding house/ worker’s dormitory (not registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act).

If you are a PR or foreigner considering to buy any of the above, please apply for approval online at www.sla.gov.sg/ldau or contact them. You may also visit or phone their office at:

Land Dealings Approval Unit

Singapore Land Authority

55 Newton Road

#12-01 Revenue House

Singapore 307987

Tel: 6478-3444

Fundamentally, each applicant will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the following factors (other factors may also be considered):

  1. You should be a PR for at least five years
  2. 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?

Below is the list of all properties that non-Singaporean citizens and foreign companies can buy without needing a green light from the government.

  • A condo
  • A flat
  • 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
  • Shophouse (for commercial use)
  • Industrial and commercial properties
  • Hotel properties registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act
  • Executive condominium (EC), HDB flat and HDB shophouse*

*Subject to certain eligibility conditions and guidelines.

Note: 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 are super expensive. In fact, Sentosa Cove is considered a "playground" for the rich and famous. 

What Singapore properties can PRs buy?

Three of the most common kind of residential properties here that PRs can buy are HDB flats, executive condominiums (EC) and private condominiums. However, apart from private condos, the first two are considered government housing and PRs are restricted to certain conditions, as we'll explain further below. 

Can Singapore PRs buy an HDB flat?

It depends. If you’re talking about a Build-To-Order (BTO) flat that is purchased directly from the Housing and Development Board (HDB), a PR buying without a Singapore citizen is NOT permitted to purchase such property.

The only way for a PR to legally buy a BTO 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 Housing Board’s Public Scheme or Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme. If you are set to get married, you can apply for such property via the Fiancé/Fiancée Scheme.

But as a PR, you need to pass two requisites: You must be at least 21 years old, and must be a PR in Singapore for at least three years.

You are also not allowed to dispose of the BTO flat or rent it out entirely under the five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP). You and your spouse must also not own any other private property elsewhere. Otherwise, you need to sell that within six months of buying a resale HDB flat.

As for resale HDB flats bought from existing homeowners, PRs don’t have to marry a Singapore Citizen in order to purchase one. This is because you can apply to buy a resale HDB unit through a less stringent version of the Public Scheme or Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme, whereby even non-citizen family can qualify provided they have attained the PR status for at least three years. A PR also cannot purchase a resale HDB flat by his/her own. 

Aside from that, even if you pass all the requirements and qualify to purchase an HDB resale flat, there are still two obstacles you need to surmount. These are the quota under the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) and the Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Quota.

If there is at least one Singapore citizen or one Malaysian PR among the buyers of an HDB resale flat, you only need to qualify for the EIP. But if all buyers are non-Malaysian Permanent Residents, then you must comply with both quotas.

To abide with 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 an off-plan executive condominium (EC), then you need to marry a Singapore Citizen, on top of fulfilling other similar requirements for buying a BTO flat.

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 the Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), under which they are prohibited from selling or renting out the entire unit within five years.

Thereafter, it can be sold to Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents. After a total of 10 years, it can be disposed to foreigners. Essentially, an EC becomes a private condominium after a decade.

Can Singapore PR buy a private condo?

Compared to HDB flats (BTO or resale) and Executive Condominiums, a Permanent Resident can buy an off-plan or brand new private condominium and second-hand unit without any problem, as long as you can afford it.

Private condominiums in Singapore are highly regarded as status symbols as over 80 percent of Singapore’s population live in HDB flats.

Not only are you allowed to rent out private condos for a minimum term of six months (3 months for HDB flats), such residential properties are considered as good investments, particularly those located in prime areas close to amenities like MRT stations, malls and eateries.

What other things do PRs need to know about buying Singapore property?

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).

Buyer's Stamp Duty

Whether you’re a Singapore citizen, PR or foreigner, if you buy a property in Singapore, you will need to pay Buyer's Stamp Duty 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 in 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. Below are the tax rates before and after 20 February 2018.

Before 20 February 2018

Purchase Price or Market ValueBSD
First S$180,0001%
Next S$180,0002%
Remaining Amount3%

Source: Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

After 20 February 2018

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

Source: Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

Assuming you bought a S$1 million private condo here in September 2018, you need to pay a Buyer's Stamp Duty of S$24,600. While this is already a significant amount, there is another more expensive stamp duty that you may or may not need to bear in addition to the BSD.

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty

The Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (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 tax rate was then increased on 12 January 2013 to control the hot residential market and prevent the occurrence of a property bubble and a sharp correction in home prices in the future. Subsequently, the ASDB was raised further on 6 July 2018. The latest rates are indicated in the table below.

New and Former ABSD Rates

On/after 12 Jan 2013 to 5 Jul 2018
On/after 6 Jul 2018
Singapore Citizens buying 1st residential property
 
 
Singapore Citizens buying 2nd residential property
7%
12%
Singapore Citizens buying 3rd and subsequent home
10%
15%
Permanent residents buying 1st residential property
5%
5%
Permanent residents buying 2nd and subsequent residential property
10%
15%
Foreigners buying any residential property
15%
20%
Entities buying any residential property
15%
25%

Source: Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore

If you are a PR buying your first home for S$1 million, you need to pay an Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty of S$50,000 (5%). If it’s your second property, then the ABSD sharply rises to S$150,000.

Although this is quite high, it’s still lower than that for foreigners who bought their first residence, as they must fork out S$200,000 (20%) for a S$1 million property.

Important: But if you are US citizen, consider yourself fortunate as you don’t have to pay any ABSD for your first property. This is because nationals of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Iceland and the United States are considered as Singapore citizens in terms of payment of the Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty.

This is courtesy of two free trade agreements Singapore has entered into with the United States and with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which comprises the four mentioned European countries. In return, Singapore nationals get the same tax treatment in these other nations.

You may also browse our resale HDB flats or private condos for sale or rent. If you want to know about future property hotspots in Singapore that will benefit from ambitious government plans, check our AreaInsider.

If you need someone to assist you for a property deal, kindly engage a licensed property agent or query them instead via AskGuru.

 

To get more guides like this, check out PropertyGuru.

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