It's the Singaporean dream to be able to afford owning private property. But with Singapore as one of the most expensive countries in the world to settle down in, to buy property in Singapore is definitely not an easily achievable dream—especially if you're a foreigner.
Landed properties are the most desired type of housing in Singapore, but are the most expensive property type as well, and is pretty much exclusive to Singapore citizens. These include vacant land, terrace houses, semi-detached houses, detached houses, bungalows, buildings 1 to 6 storeys tall, and any other land zoned solely for the purpose of residence.
Anyone who is not a Singapore citizen or permanent resident is restricted from purchasing any landed residential properties, lest they've been granted approval from the Controller of Residential Property. The restriction even applies to ownership by gift, inheritance, succession, or bequest. So if you're the beneficiary of landed property from a Singapore citizen, you'll be legally bound to sell the property ten years from the death of the previous owner if approval by the Controller of Residential Property was not granted.
Despite these setbacks, however, there are a few cases in which permanent residents and foreigners may purchase landed property. Here's an overview of the process:
Can foreigners buy landed property? Technically: no. According to the Singapore Government Agency website, a foreign person is someone who is not a Singapore Citizen. However, permanent residents are granted the opportunity to APPLY for the ability to purchase landed residential property. To do this, you must meet the following criteria
If you fulfill any of these, you may be granted approval for ownership of residential properties by going through this process:
Sounds simple, but will require tons of patience, as the application will take roughly 3 months for processing. Additionally, once you've been granted approval, you must prove that the property you're purchasing will be used only as a residential property and not as a business or for any other income-generating purpose.
If, worst case scenario, you were NOT granted approval but already gave a deposit on the property, then don't worry! According to law, the sale and purchase of the property is subject to the approval of the Land Authority Dealings. If you weren't granted approval, the sale and purchase will be annulled and you'll be refunded free of interest, and neither you nor the other party may have any claim against the other.
If you've been granted approval, then congratulations! You can officially purchase private residential property in Singapore. But as a foreigner, how feasible buying a house in Singapore and maintaining the most expensive residential property type in the country? Make sure you do a ton of research and financial planning before making the big leap.
Due to the size of landed residential properties—several times larger than the usual public housing flat or condominium—landed property owners spend 110% more on home insurance, renovations, furnishings, and other maintenance costs.
Additionally, you should take all the additional fees into consideration, as, not only do you have to pay for the property and the right to own the property, you also have to fork out cash for stamp duties, legal fees, and valuation fees as part of the expected upkeep costs of your property. This is all on top of the home insurance and day-to-day utility bills, of course.
All these factors make it critical for you to examine your financial status before signing off on a landed property, otherwise you might find yourself significantly in debt. So, if you're a foreigner looking to buy landed residential property in Singapore, remember: examine your financial status and calculate the additional fees before sending in your application. Your wallet will thank you later!