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Buying Your First Home in Singapore: Here’s How Much You Should Budget

buying property in singapore
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Singapore is known for having a roaring housing market, with properties being a popular investment asset. Even though the government provides a healthy supply of public housing, their sturdy construction and good quality have given rise to a healthy resale market. Coupled with good governance and political stability, Singapore has become an attractive location for foreign investment and growth.

But can foreigners buy property in Singapore? The short answer is: yes. Read more of our guide for foreigners buying property in Singapore

Foreigners can buy private properties and landed property in Singapore. However, they need approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU) to buy landed properties. Foreigners are not eligible to purchase public housing (HDB) which is heavily subsidized by the government.

What Types of Properties Can Foreigners Buy?

But first, who are considered foreigners in Singapore?

A foreign person means any individual who is not any of the following:

  • Singapore citizen
  • Singapore company
  • Singapore limited liability partnership or
  • Singapore association

As such, Singapore Permanent Residents are also considered foreigners.

A Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) is eligible to buy public housing units if he or she meets the eligibility criteria set by the Housing and Development Board (HDB).

What Singapore PRs Can Purchase What Non-PR Foreigners Can Purchase
Private Condominiums Private Condominiums
Strata landed house in an approved condominium development Strata landed house in an approved condominium development
A leasehold estate in a landed residential property for a term not exceeding 7 years, including any further term which may be granted by way of an option for renewal A leasehold estate in a landed residential property for a term not exceeding 7 years
Shophouse (for commercial use) Shophouse (for commercial use)
Industrial and commercial properties Industrial and commercial properties
Hotel (registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act) Hotel (registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act)
Executive Condominium Unit Privatized Executive Condominium Unit
HDB Resale Flat

Under the Residential Property Act, residential properties that are available to foreigners are divided into two categories: restricted and non-restricted properties.

To purchase restricted properties, foreigners need to seek approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU) under the Singapore Land Authority (SLA). On the other hand, foreigners may purchase non-restricted properties in Singapore without approval under the Residential Property Act.

Average Selling Prices of Different Types of Homes in Singapore

Before we dive in, do note that the prices we have listed in the following sections are the average costs, which may be affected by outliers – particularly desirable homes that were sold for record-breaking prices

Do note that the actual price you end up paying for your home will depend on several factors.

1. HDB flats – From S$300,000

By far, the most abundant and affordable option for home ownership in Singapore, HDB flats are public housing apartment blocks, organized into distinct neighborhood estates. 

These high-rise projects are designed to offer some level of self-sufficiency, and as such, usually include a range of amenities such as markets and food centers, playgrounds and fitness parks, retail shops, and community sports halls. 

Some towns even include public transport hubs, shopping malls, waterfront boardwalks, and community hospitals. 

Besides supplying essential services and goods, these facilities also encourage a sense of communal living, identity, and belonging for the residents living there.

The largest determinant of the price of your HDB flat is the size of the unit, followed by its location. 

Average prices of HDB flats in Singapore

HDB flat type Average price
2-room S$300,000
3-room S$430,000
4-room S$510,000
5-room S$625,000
Executive S$730.000

Source: https://www.propertyguru.com.sg/hdb-for-sale

2. Condominium apartments – From S$1 million

Condominium housing projects offer gated community living, with common spaces and facilities accessible only by residents and their guests. 

When compared to HDB estates, condos tend to have a greater number of amenities that are shared with a smaller number of users, creating a more exclusive atmosphere. 

They also usually have more uncommon facilities, such as swimming pools, jacuzzis and water parks, fully functional gyms, tennis courts, landscaped gardens, BBQ pits, and meeting or community rooms.

As you might expect, the exclusivity of condo living commands a premium on price. Additionally, condo apartments are often marketed with premium finishes and high-end fittings, which further pushes up the cost price. 

Average prices of condominium apartments in Singapore

Condo type Average price
1-bedroom studio S$1 million
2-bedroom S$1.5 million
3-bedroom S$2 million
4-bedroom S$3 million

Source: https://www.propertyguru.com.sg/condo-directory

3. Landed property – From S$3 million

Occupying the upper end of housing options in Singapore is landed property, which comes in a variety of configurations. Some examples include terrace houses, semi-detached, and bungalows. 

Generally, the more a property stands alone on a plot of land, the more expensive it tends to be, presumably because of the high land scarcity in Singapore. Hence, when considering landed properties, know that terrace houses will cost the least, while standalone bungalows will be the most costly. 

Average prices of landed properties in Singapore

Property type Average price
Terraced house S$3.2 million
Cluster house S$3.4 million
Corner terrace S$4.5 million
Semi-detached S$4.8 million
Bungalow S$9.5 million

Source: https://www.propertyguru.com.sg/

House Key

What You Need To Know About Financing Your First Home

Here’s a summary of the various costs and payments involved in financing your home in Singapore

Downpayment (option fee included) – 10% to 25% 

If you’re purchasing an HDB flat, you need to pay at least 10% of the selling price as a downpayment. The remaining 90% can be funded through your CPF Ordinary Account savings, through an HDB Concessionary Loan, or a combination of both. 

For private residential properties such as condos and landed houses, you can only take a mortgage from banks and financial institutions. The maximum amount banks are allowed to loan homebuyers is capped at 75% of the selling price, which means you’ll need to pay a downpayment of at least 25%. 

Note that included in the downpayment is the option-to-purchase fee, the payment of which guarantees your eligibility to purchase the unit, up till a mutually agreed date. If you fail to go ahead with the purchase after this date has passed, you will forfeit this fee and the seller is freed up to offer the unit to other buyers.

Option-to-purchase fees start from S$1,000 to S$2,000 for HDB flats and go up in tandem with the property’s price. 

Legal Fees and Property Tax

You’ll need to pay for some legal fees incurred in the process of buying your home, namely Buyer Stamp Duties, Conveyancing Fees, and Caveat Registration Fees.

And once you’ve taken ownership of your property, you’ll be liable to pay property taxes as well. 

Legal fees can add up to a few thousand dollars, depending on the value of the property you are buying. Property taxes are generally not as high.

There are several online tools to help you calculate these figures, such as this Stamp Duty Calculator, this HDB Legal Fees calculator, and this property tax calculator 

Home Insurance Premiums

It is generally a good idea to get a basic home protection policy to safeguard you against the financial fallout of fires, damage, or burglaries.

There are plenty of home insurance plans available on the market, and they are generally quite affordable, with basic plans for HDB flats starting from S$50 or so.  

You can easily search and compare different insurance policies online or request an insurance agent to help you choose a suitable plan. 

Renovation and Furnishing

Depending on the state of the property you bought, you may wish to embark on some renovation work. 

The cost of renovation and furnishings will depend greatly on the extent of the work you need to do, as well as the quality and type of furniture, fittings, and appliances you eventually choose. 

Expect to spend at least a few thousand dollars here.

Mortgage, Maintenance Fees and Utilities

Once you’ve been handed the property title deed and the keys to your new home, you will need to start paying your mortgage, maintenance fees and utilities every month – the last of which we believe do not need any explanations.

The mortgage is paid to the party that furnished your housing loan. Maintenance fees, however, will be paid to the Town Council (for HDB flats) or the condo management committee (for condominiums).

Owners of landed property will also need to pay for garbage removal services, which may be included in your utility bills. 

Steps in Purchasing a Property

Want to buy a property in Singapore but don’t know where to start? Don’t fret! Here are easy-to-follow steps to make your property purchase a breeze.

Step 1: Find a Property

You can start your search on property platforms. Whether you’re buying a brand new BTO, resales, ECs, or private houses, these property websites have them.

For instance, you can visit PropertyGuru which aims to provide an extensive collection of property listings in Singapore. Both first-timer and experienced homebuyers will benefit from their comprehensive database.

Another website you might want to consider is the 99.co which helps you focus on your checklist by letting you filter the property listings by district, area, or HDB town.

Step 2: Use Affordability Calculator

Now that you have an idea of what residential properties you want, you need to double-check their affordability.

How much can you comfortably afford?

You can use an online affordability calculator to estimate your maximum home loan amount and the property purchase price you can afford based on your:

  • Income
  • Age
  • Existing loan commitments

Step 3: Check if You Need To Pay Taxes

Buying property in Singapore comes with appropriate taxes. Foreigners who are buying private residential property in Singapore are required to pay Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD).

Here are a few things you need to know about property taxes: 

Property Purchase Singapore Permanent Residents
ABSD rate
Foreigners
ABSD rate
1st property purchase 5% 30% regardless of the number of residential properties purchased
2nd property purchase 25%
3rd property purchase 30%

Aside from ABSD, you may also need to pay a Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) and Mortgage Duty. The BSD is a tax paid on documents signed when you purchase or acquire property in Singapore, regardless of nationality.

The amount of BSD you need to pay will depend on whichever is higher:

  • Purchase price of the property (as stated in the sale and purchase agreement)
  • The market value of the property (based on the property’s valuation reports) 

Step 4: Hire an Agent

Is property hunting too overwhelming? You can consider hiring an agent to help you find the best property deals. They can also help you get an estimate on how much you can afford, settle your paperwork, and other complicated details. However, you’ll need to shell out an agent fee of 1%.

Make sure to only deal with reliable and licensed agents. You can go to the Council of Estate Agents’ (CEA) website and look into their Public Register list of all the licensed property agencies and registered agents.

Lastly, before hiring an agent, check the CEA’s Register for the validity of the agent’s license. The information from their website is updated daily. 

calculating home loan

Step 5: Apply for a Loan

Singaporeans, who are buying an HDB flat, can choose to take an HDB Concessionary Housing Loan or a bank loan. If they are buying an EC or private property, they can only choose a bank loan. 

HDB Housing Loan

This is a type of loan available to eligible flat buyers at a concessionary interest rate. The current HDB interest rate is 2.60% p.a. Although the interest rate is higher than most banks, the downpayment is more affordable due to the higher maximum LTV ratio. 

HDB Loan Eligibility

  • At least one property buyer must be a Singapore citizen
  •  Average gross monthly household income must not exceed S$14,000
  • You will need to obtain an HDB Loan Eligibility (HLE) letter.

You can find the full list of eligibility criteria on HDB’s website. 

Traditional Bank Loans

Another option is to take a housing loan from a bank or financial institution. Foreigners are only eligible for a bank loan in Singapore.

The bank may finance up to 70% of the property’s purchase price for the first property. For the second and subsequent properties, the bank may finance up to 55%.

There are two types of bank loan packages: fixed rate and floating-rate loans. Additionally, the agreed interest rates are usually good for 2 to 3 years before they revert to a different rate determined by the bank.

Lastly, the eligibility criteria vary depending on the bank or financial institution. That said, it’s best to compare your options to find the best deal. 

Licensed Money Lender

Don’t have enough cash to cover the downpayment? You can consider taking out a loan from a licensed moneylender.

Licensed moneylenders in Singapore are regulated by the Registry of Moneylenders. You can find the complete list of licensed moneylenders on MinLaw’s website.

For secured loans, you can borrow any loan amount. For unsecured loans, please refer to the table below:

Borrower’s annual income Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents Foreigners residing in Singapore
Less than $10,000 $3,000 $500
At least $10,000

and less than $20,000

$3,000
At least $20,000 6 times monthly income 6 times monthly income

Note: Licensed moneylenders are only allowed to charge up to 4% interest rate per month. This cap applies regardless of the borrower’s income and whether the loan is secured or unsecured. 

Conclusion

With good governance, political stability, and a soaring housing market, it’s no wonder why foreigners are eyeing Singapore for investment and growth. However, buying a property in Singapore is as exciting as it is overwhelming.  Use the tips above to help you get started. 

Key takeaways

  • Foreigners can buy private properties and landed property in Singapore. However, they need approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU) to buy landed properties.
  • A Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) is eligible to buy public housing units if he or she meets the eligibility criteria set by the Housing and Development Board (HDB).
  • The most abundant and affordable option for home ownership in Singapore is HDB flats. The average price of a 2-room HDB flat is around S$300,000.
  • Foreigners who are buying private property in Singapore are required to pay Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) on top of the Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD).

Don’t have time to compare different loan plans? Let Loan Advisor help you. Loan Advisor is a loan comparison tool with the most up-to-date information about the top licensed moneylenders in Singapore. They have the best loan rates, terms, and tenure. Request up to three loan quotes today to find the smartest solution that suits your needs.

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