Singapore Property Guide

Singapore Fact Sheet

Capital City: Singapore

Official Language: English, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil

Government: Constitutional Republic

Area: 715.8 KM2

Population: 5.4 million (2013)

Currency: Singapore dollar (SGD)

Approx: US$1 = S$1.27 (Oct 2014)

GDP per capita: S$65.048; US$52,051

 
Geography: Singapore is a small, heavily urbanized island located at the end of the Malayan Peninsula between Malaysia and Indonesia. 
Climate: Tropical climate with an average yearly temperature of 27°c.

Economy

  • Singapore’s GDP is US$ 348.7 billion in 2013 and the top 5 economy sectors are:

1) Finance 2) Manufacturing 3) Biotechnology 4) Petroleum and Petrochemicals 5) Tourism

  • The World Bank ranked Singapore 1 in 2014 for their ease of doing business and the country is committed to free market development and free trade.

  • The world’s most business-friendly regulatory environment and one of the most competitive economies in the worlds.

  • Its strongly pro-business environment provides an efficient infrastructure and a transparent administration.

Cost of living

Items

SGD

USD

Avg. Price Per m2 to Buy Apartment in City Centre

20,365

15,990

Avg. Price to Rent 1 Bedroom Apartment in City Centre per month

3,250

2,550

Basic Utilities (Electric, Heat, Water, and Garbage) for 85 m2 Apartment

190

150

New Volkswagen Golf 1.4 Car

140,000

110,000

Gasoline (1 liter)

2.15

1.68

Simple Meal

10

7.85

Avg. Monthly Salary

3,825

3,000

Updated in Oct 2014, data is based on 6081 entries in the past 18 months from numbeo.com

Types of Property Ownership

There are two types of property ownership in existence in Singapore:

  1. Freehold estate ownership, includes fee simple (Owner does not pay any ground rent and belongs to the owner and successors indefinitely and estate in perpetuity (Owner subject to payment of ground rent).

  2. Leasehold estate ownership, which may be for a period of 15, 30, 60, 99, or 999 years.

Classification of Properties

HDB Flats

These apartments are built and maintained by the Housing and Development Board, which is government financed and subsidized. Most of them are on a 99-year leasehold term.

Executive condominiums
These were created to fulfill the needs of Singaporeans wanting something better than a HDB flat but cannot afford the cost of private condos. For the first 5 years these condominiums cannot be sold but will have no restrictions after 10 years. Between 5 to 10 years they cannot be sold to foreigners.

Private apartments/condominiums
Private apartments fall under the classification of apartments or condominiums, with the distinction between the two being the development size and also built up sizes. Condominiums are usually packaged with more facilities such as swimming pool, tennis court, gymnasium, squash courts, children’s playground, BBQ areas, enclosed car park and security services. These developments can be freehold, 99-year leasehold or 999-year leasehold.

Landed properties
As for landed properties, they are classified as terraced houses, semi-detached houses, detached houses, exclusive bungalows and shop houses. These properties can be very expensive depending on the plot size as well as location and are usually tied to the land title. Most are freehold yet some are 99-year leasehold and 999-year leasehold.

Foreign Ownership in Singapore

The only restrictions on foreign ownership apply to the following residential properties:

  1. HDB apartments

Foreigners are not allowed to purchase HDB apartment as it is meant as a subsidized public housing for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents.

  1. Landed properties or non-strata-titled properties

Non-Singaporeans are not allowed to buy landed properties. They can, however, apply to the Minister of Law through the Land Dealings Unit (LDU) for approval to purchase such properties. If the expatriate is allowed to purchase the property, he/she must use the house strictly for owner occupation.

However, foreign ownership of landed properties in Sentosa cove is permitted under a special arrangement. Applications have to be made with the LDU and if approved, the property must be owner-occupied (ie. No renting out) and the foreign owner is only allowed to own one residential property at any one time in Singapore.

  1. En-bloc apartments and condominiums

A foreigner is not allowed to acquire all units in a residential development without the Minister of Law’s approval.

  1. Vacant land zoned ‘residential’

Foreign developers are required to obtain a Qualifying Certificate (QC) from the Controller of Residential Property (CRP) before they are allowed to purchase residential land.

Legal Documentations

Singapore’s land laws are very similar with the British land laws and property purchase is highly regulated in Singapore. The following are the necessary documentation processes you need to know:

  1. Option to Purchase

The ‘Option to Purchase’ gives you a 14-day exclusivity period to decide on purchasing the intended property. Upon signing the ‘Option to Purchase’ agreement, 1% of the purchase price is placed as a good faith deposit. If you decide to purchase it within the stipulated deadline, you must return the agreement to the seller together with another 4% or 9% depending on what is stated on the agreement. If you fail to honor the agreement within 14 days, your 1% deposit is forfeited and the property may be offered to another buyer.

  1. Offer to Purchase

The ‘Offer to Purchase’ is an agreement where you want to make a binding direct offer to purchase. This agreement is to be prepared by your solicitor or agent, stating the price, completion date and other conditions you want to specify. If the seller accepts the offer, the Offer to Purchase agreement must be signed and you can move into the next phase of the process that is the Sales & Purchase Agreement (S&P). At this stage, 5% or 10% of the agreed price is paid to the seller as a deposit.

  1. Sales and Purchase Agreement 

A Sale & Purchase Agreement is a private contract between the seller and the purchaser for the sale and purchase of a property. Licensed housing developers are required to use the standard form of Sale & Purchase Agreement in the sale of the units in a licensed housing project.

Transaction Costs

Agency Commission

Typical agency fees are equivalent to one month’s gross effective rent and are payable by the landlord. Brokerage fees on investment transactions are normally between 1% - 2% of the transaction price and are payable by the vendor.

Solicitor’s Fee

Solicitor’s fee paid by the buyer is between 0.3-0.6% of the selling price. Extra legal fee is applicable if CPF is used to pay for the apartment. The seller pays 0.15% of the transaction value to his/her solicitor.

Stamp Fee

The stamp fee is payable to Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore within 14 days upon exercising the Option to Purchase or signing the Sales and Purchase Agreement when buying from a property developer. More details can be found under the Taxes section below.

Taxes

Stamp Duty is generally payable on the documents relating to transactions involving all types of properties and it must be paid within 14 days of the execution of the agreement or contract. Stamp duty is payable by the relevant parties at fixed rates on the selling/purchase price or market value of the property (whichever is higher)

Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD)

BSD is charged on the sale and purchase agreement and is payable by the buyer, unless the parties agree otherwise.

The rates are as follows:

Amount or Value of Consideration

Duty Payable

Every SGD 100 of the first SGD 180,000

SGD 1

Every SGD 100 of the next SGD 180,000

SGD 2

Thereafter, every SGD or part thereof

SGD 3

If the consideration is more than SGD 360,000, the Stamp Duty is: (3% X Consideration) – SGD 5,400

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)

ABSD is also payable by certain buyers of residential properties (including residential land). ABSD is payable in addition to the existing BSD. ABSD will apply to contracts or agreements or documents of transfer dated on or after 8 December 2011.

The rates are as follows:

Profile of Buyer

ABSD Rates from 12 January 2013

Foreigners (excluding nationals of the United States of America and nationals and permanent residents of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland, all whom will be treated as a Singaporean citizen) (‘FR’) and non- individuals

15%

Singapore Permanent Residents (SPR) buying first residential property

5%

SPR buying second and subsequent residential properties

10%

Singapore Citizens (SC) buying their first residential property

0%

SC buying their second residential property

7%

SC buying their third residential property

10%

If buyers of different profiles jointly buy the property, the higher ABSD rate will apply.

Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD)

Stamp duty is also payable by:

  1. A seller of a residential property who acquired the residential property between 30 August 2010 and 13 January 2011 (both dates inclusive) and sells or disposes of the property within three years from the date of acquisition;

The SSD rate will be as follow:

Holding Period

SSD Rates

Up to one year

1% on first SGD 180,000

2% on next SGD 180,000

3% on remainder

More than one year and up to two years

0.67% on first SGD 180,000

1.33% on next SGD 180,000

2% on remainder

More than two years and up to three years

0.33% on first SGD 180,000

0.67% on next SGD 180,000

1% on remainder

  1. A seller of a residential property who acquired the residential property on or after 14 January 2011 and sells or disposes of the property within four years from the date of acquisition.

The SSD rate will be as follow:

Holding Period

SSD Rates

Up to one year

16%

More than one year and up to two years

12%

More than two years and up to three years

8%

More than three years and up to four years

4%

The material date of acquisition or disposal is the date on which the contract is made, rather than the date of transfer or date of delivery of possession of the property. Where there is an option to purchase, the material date shall be the date on which the option to purchase is exercised.

Stamp Duty: Mortgages

Stamp duty payable is SGD 4 for every SGD 1,000 of the loan or part thereof, subject to a maximum of SGD 500.

Stamp Duty: Leases

Leases with annual rents not exceeding SGD 1,000 are exempt from stamp duty. For those with annual rents of more than SGD 1,000, stamp duty is levied as a percentage of the average gross annual rent:

  1. Up to one-year lease period, SGD 1 for every SGD 250 of part thereof.

  2. More than one year and up to a three-year lease period, SGD 2 for every SGD 250 of part thereof.

  3. More than a three-year lease period or for an indefinite term, SGD 4 for every SGD 250 of part thereof.

Estate Duty

As of 15 February 2008, the government has removed estate duty.

Capital Gains Tax

No tax is imposed on capital gains from the sale of real property, which includes any land and building, as well as any interest, option or other right over such land or building. However, gains from property sales made by property traders and property developers are subject to income tax as their ordinary income.

Property Tax

The amount of tax payable by owners is calculated based on a percentage of the estimated annual rent that the property can expect to obtain if it were rented out, regardless of whether the property is vacant, occupied by the owner or leased out. Exceptions to the standard definition of annual value include

Progressive tax scale for non-owner-occupied residential buildings

Annual Value (SGD)

Tax rate (effective 1 Jan 2014)

Tax rate (effective 1 Jan 2015)

First 30,000

10

10

Next 15,000

11

12

Next 15,000

13

14

Next 15,000

15

16

Next 15,000

17

18

AV in excess of 90,000

19

20

Source: Savills Research & Consultancy

Progressive tax scale for owner-occupied residential buildings

Annual Value (SGD)

Tax rate (effective 1 Jan 2014)

Tax rate (effective 1 Jan 2015)

First 8,000

0

0

Next 47,000

4

4

Next 5,000

5

6

Next 10,000

6

6

Next 15,000

7

8

Next 15,000

9

10

Next 15,000

11

12

Next 15,000

13

14

AV in excess of 130,000

15

16

Source: Savills Research & Consultancy

Goods and Services Tax (GST)

GST is charged on supplies of most goods and services by businesses, and on imports made by taxable persons in Singapore. The sale of residential properties and land are exempt from GST on the sale of a housing unit even if he is GST-registered with the Controller.

Mortgage Loan Information

Banks in Singapore (foreign and local banks) offer loans to all foreigners. The margin of financing can go up to 80%, depending on purchasers’ eligibility and relationship with the banks. If you already own a property in Singapore, this amount drops to 60%. The maximum loan repayment period is usually 35 years or 75 years of age of loan tenor, whichever is earlier.

The following documents are usually required to process a housing loan:

  • Original and duplicate copies of passport or Identity Card.

  • Income documents – pay slips or bank book/statements showing income entries for the last six months.

  • Latest income tax assessment.

  • Official receipt of the deposit payment & a copy of the booking form.

  • Copy of property’s Option to Purchase or Sales and Purchase Agreement.

  • Housing loan application from duly completed & signed.

  • Other supporting documents may be required in certain cases.

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Contact details

Property Pinpoint,
137 Market Street, Level 6 Singapore 048934

Tel: +65 6809 3891

Tel: +601 2557 1685

Fax: +65 6809 3701

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