A guide to buying property in Singapore as a foreigner in 2022

Written by Nigel Simpkins

Buying a house is a huge decision and, for many of us, this may be the largest purchase we ever make. But if you’ve decided to buy a house in another country, the weight of that decision is increased significantly and must be given the consideration and contemplation it deserves. 

If you’re looking at buying property in Singapore, the world’s highest-ranked country for economic freedom, then you’re likely going to be working there as an expat on some sort of work pass. If so, there are many things that you need to think about when buying property in Singapore. We’ve created this guide to help you to navigate this effectively.

Which Types Of Property Can You Buy?

When you’re searching for a home in the city-state of Singapore, you need to understand that there are certain restrictions on which types of property you’ll be eligible to buy as a foreigner. To put it simply, you’re only allowed to purchase land as a permanent resident, which includes detached and semi-detached properties. 

However, you can purchase private apartments or condo units, which are residential properties situated inside a particular building or a complex. Condominiums tend to share certain facilities like laundry and garden areas and, in some cases, swimming pools and gyms. Think of it as a luxury hotel room that you own.

What Tax Do You Have To Pay?

If you buy a property in Singapore, you’re going to have to pay something known as BSD or Buyer’s Stamp Duty, and foreigners will have to pay 30% additional stamp duty on the market value of their property. This can be a significantly high cost that you’ll have to pay and could easily cause problems for your plans.

 For example, if you were looking to buy an apartment for S$2,000,000 in Holland Village, as a foreigner, you’d be paying S$64,600 for the buyer’s stamp duty on top of S$600,000 from the 30% additional buyer stamp duty or ABSD. It’s worth speaking to a financial advisor or estate agent for further advice on this process to avoid confusion and ensure you’re prepared for this step. 

How Do You Get A Mortgage In Singapore?

As a foreigner, it is perfectly feasible to arrange a mortgage to help you to buy your property in Singapore. There are many different lenders that will provide a home loan for you to buy property here, and the biggest decision is to choose one that’s right for you. While some will offer fixed rates, some, such as PropertyGuru, provide floating rates like a BOC home loan. There are advantages and disadvantages to choosing a floating rate over a fixed rate, and the primary reason is the flexibility that these loans offer. 

A fixed-rate mortgage won’t change over time, but you will be penalised if you try to pay more, whereas, with a floating rate, you can pay extra to help reduce the length of your mortgage loan. You’ll also find that there’s a chance that rates will be lower at times and you’re also not locked in, so you are free to switch to a different rate or another bank too. 

Can You Buy Land As A Foreigner?

If you remain as a foreigner living in Singapore on a work pass, you still won’t be able to buy land, no matter how long you stay in the country. However, if you then become a permanent resident in Singapore, you’ll actually be eligible to apply to the Singapore Land Authority for a chance to purchase your own house and the land it’s on, known as landed property. 

Or, if you’re married to a Singapore citizen or permanent resident, you can, in fact, buy a property with them instead. This means you are able to apply for something called the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme allowing you to purchase certain built-to-order properties or resale flats. 

What Is The Singapore Property Market Like?

Over the years, the marketplace has gone wild in Singapore, which actually led the government to step in and enact certain methods to avoid the property market getting too out of control. While this stemmed the rise of property values across Singapore, the changes also meant that it’s now more difficult to get a mortgage, and stamp duty prices have risen, as shown above. However, prices are slowly creeping up in 2022, and private properties in the country actually increased in price by nearly 11% last year. 

What Are The Best Places For Foreigners To Live?

Choosing the right place to live will largely depend on your personal preferences for your property. If you’re searching for an area that’s perfect for raising a family in Singapore, then places like Holland Village are a great choice. 

This area offers a varied range of property types and boasts many great amenities, including shops, great schools, and stunning green outdoor spaces, which Singapore is famous for. If, however, you’re looking to buy an apartment as a young, single professional, you may want to consider somewhere like Tanjong Pagar in the city centre. You’ll be living right in the middle of the action and will benefit from being in close proximity to many Singapore businesses.