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Buying a property in Singapore: All you need to know


Halloween gets glamorous with this 25 October party thrown by Singapore socialite Sabrina Van Cleef Ault in aid of local charity Riding for the Disabled. The bash will feature a fully-fledged House of Horrors to welcome guests, spooky make-up specialists and music by popular Australian female DJ duo The Faders. The free-flow event is s The sales market, which stalled in 2009, is becoming active again in 2010 as buyers take advantage of more realistic prices.

Whether buying your own home here is a good option for you depends on your circumstances. The volatile nature of the Singapore market makes property ownership a tricky prospect in the short term. As an expatriate, how long you reside here usually depends on your employment contract. If you do buy property and have to sell it at short notice, you run the risk of having to offload it at an unfavourable price when the market is in a downturn. If you have the financial holding power to keep the property and sell it at a later time when prices are high, this is less of a concern.


There are no restrictions against expats purchasing condominiums. However, to buy a landed property (a house with a garden or yard), you will need to hold Permanent Residence status and receive special approval from the Land Development Authority. Landed properties include bungalows, semi-detached houses and terrace houses. For more information see www.sla.gov.sg.

Setting a Budget

It is recommended that you put down at least 30 percent of the purchase price to safeguard yourself against market downturns. Also remember to allow for additional expenses including maintenance of the new property, insurance and taxes. If you live in your property, the tax rate is four percent of the annual value of the rental. If you rent it out, the rate increases to 10 percent.

Associated Costs

  • Solicitor’s fees
  • Mortgage solicitor’s fees
  • Transfer fee and stamp duty
  • Government department fees
  • Transfer and mortgage registration fee

Once you have found a property that interests you, confirm its value through a bank or check the Inland Revenue Authority’s website (www.iras.gov.sg) for the last transaction price of a similar property. Once you and the seller have agreed on a price, you will need to pay a one-percent deposit to secure it. You are usually allowed two weeks to pay a further nine percent, then 10 to 12 weeks to pay the balance. You should have a lawyer on hand to advise you during this time.


A foreigner can usually borrow up to 80 percent of a local bank’s valuation of a property. Like anywhere else, the less you pay in the beginning the more you’ll pay in the end. Interest costs can go up to 30 percent or higher, so aim for at least a 20 percent down payment.

Expat Realtor can also assist you with buying a home. Their extensive database (www.expatrealtor.net) will give you a good idea of what’s on the market. Call them at (+65) 6255 1027.

House versus Condo

Deciding what style of home you’d like will depend on many factors including your lifestyle, the size of your family and your budget. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider as you make your choice.

House: Pros

• Privacy
• More space
• Outdoor living area
• More suitable for pets

Condo: Pros

• Leisure facilities
• Convenient locations
• Opportunities to make friends
• 24-hour security

House: Cons

• Care of garden
• Isolation
• Unwanted wildlife, such as snakes
• Lack of facilities such as gyms and tennis courts
• Not all houses have room for a garden or pool

Condo: Cons

• Lack of privacy
• Dangerously high windows and balconies
• The need to share outdoor space