Guide To Property Ownership

A foreign person is defined under the Residential Property Act to be: (a) any person who is not a citizen, (b) any permanent resident, (c) any foreign company or any converted foreign company, (d) any society or converted society.

Hence, even a permanent resident is categorised as a foreigner unlike in the case of purchasing a Housing and Development Board flat, whereby a permanent resident could be the applicant or the authorised occupant of the said flat. However, it does not necessarily mean that all foreigners are restricted from purchasing residential properties in Singapore. A foreign person can still buy residential property caught under the Act if he / she had obtained explicit approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit (Controller of Residential Property; Section 25 of Residential Property Act). The approval will be looked upon favourably if:

– the individual is a permanent residentGuides

– an individual who can provide economic benefits to Singapore or makes adequate contribution in Singapore; and

– one who possesses professional or other qualifications or experience which are of benefits or advantageous to Singapore.

Any foreigners who attained ownership of residential properties in Singapore prior to the commencement of the Act can have the right to retain it. In the event the said foreigners are desirous to sell their properties, it shall have to be sold only to any Singapore citizen or approved purchasers as stipulated by the Act.

Foreigners who are interested in purchasing residential properties but have yet to attain explicit approval from the Land Dealings Unit, the real estate agent can still have the foreigners to commit in the sale and purchase of the property concerned by spelling out clearly in the Option to Purchase documents by the insertion of a clause, i.e. “the intended purchase of the above mentioned property by the intending Purchases, namely one ___________ is subject to explicit approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit, Controller of Residential Property as stipulated by the governing Residential Property Act 1976. In the event the approval is not validly obtained, it is hereby understood that the owners shall refund all monies without interests accrued to the said intending Purchaser and thereafter neither party shall have any claims, demands, proceedings, costs, expenses whatsoever against each other as pertaining to the said cancellation of intending sale and purchase of the said property concerned”.

Foreigners can still attain interest in Singapore residential properties with a written approval from the Controller of Residential Property Land Dealings:

– A unit in an approved condominium development.
– Any non-residential, commercial or industrial property.
– You are buying the property for owner-occupation.

For restricted property such as vacant land, landed properties such as bungalows, semi-detached and terrace houses and units in buildings of less than 6 levels, etc. foreigners need to apply for approval from Singapore Land Authority before buying. For more details on application, visit the Singapore Land Authority website.

For HDB flats, HDB shop-houses and executive condominiums, eligibility is subjected to the Housing and Development Board.

To buy a flat directly from HDB, you must be a Singapore citizen, must include another Singapore citizen or Singapore permanent resident to form a family nucleus. To buy a flat from the resale market, you must be a Singapore citizen or Singapore permanent resident. Include at least one listed occupier who is a Singapore permanent resident or Singapore citizen.

Are there any restrictions on home loans for foreigners?
Foreigners and permanent residents can borrow loans up to 70% – 80% of the purchase price of the property subjected to different banks criteria. Non-Singapore companies cannot be granted Singapore dollar loans to purchase residential properties.

What conditions must I fulfil if I am a Permanent Resident getting a home loan?
To obtain a Singapore dollar loan, you have to provide:

– A written understanding that you do not have outstanding housing loans from any other financial institutions in Singapore.