Buying Property in Singapore

Singaporean real estate is a complex area, so before you get in contact with local realtors or real estate agents who have property for sale you may find it helpful to understand who may buy a house, apartment or condo and how to go about the purchase.

Properties in Singapore are sold either on a freehold or leasehold tenure. A freehold title enables the owner to hold the property in perpetuity, whilst a leasehold title confers possession upon the purchaser for the duration of the lease (for example, 99 or 999 years). On expiry of the lease, the title and interest in the property revert to the State.


Since mid-2005 foreigners can buy apartments (known as strata-titled properties) in all buildings without needing approval from the Singapore Authorities. Previous rules about the apartment block needing to be higher than six storeys and classified as a condominium no longer apply.

A foreign person (any person who is not a Singapore citizen, Singapore Company, Singapore limited liability partnership or a Singapore society) will still need approval from the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) to buy land-titled property such as houses, bungalows and vacant plots of land.

For more information (or to download a form to seek approval) see the SLA website

Financing the Purchase

Mortgages can be obtained for purchase of all freehold properties and some leasehold properties depending upon the usage and the unexpired lease term. New leasehold residential properties which generally come with 99 years leasehold shouldn't be a problem. Banks may be unwilling to give loans for residential properties with less than 60 years unexpired lease.

The current Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) (August 2006) ruling allows buyers to borrow up to 80 percent of the valuation (Market Value) or purchase price, whichever is lower. (The percentage is lower for commercial properties.) Ten percent must be paid in cash, the other ten percent can be paid using the buyer's Central Provident Fund or cash.

Some banks offer a lower interest rate for mortgages where the residential property is the first property purchased and is for owner occupation.

The purchaser should check the market valuation for the property they want to buy. Valuation directly affects the amount of financing that can be granted for the property. Banks generally do not require a condition survey on the state of repair of a property. However, if there are serious known risk issues, banks may be reluctant to grant a mortgage. The condition of the property also affects market value and hence the actual loan amount that can be obtained under a mortgage.

The purchaser will also need to check if their credit status and income proof will enable them to borrow the amount required.

Note: For foreigners, too, major banks or financial institutions in Singapore can lend only up to 80 percent of the valuation or sale price (whichever is lower), and will require proof of earnings.

Foreign Ownership of Singapore Private Residential Properties Guidelines

What is non-restricted residential property under the Residential Property Act?

In general, foreigners are not restricted from buying any apartment within a building; any flat or dwelling-house in an approved condominium development under the Planning Act. However, a foreign person is not allowed to buy all the apartments within a building or all the units in the condominium development.

What is restricted residential property under the Residential Property Act?

Foreign persons (including natural persons, companies and societies) are restricted from purchasing restricted residential property within the meaning of the Residential Property Act. Such property includes:

- vacant residential land;

- landed property [i.e detached house, semi-detached house, terrace house (including linked house or townhouse)]; and

- landed property in strata developments which are not approved condominium developments under the Planning Act.

Approval will have to be obtained from the Minister for Law to purchase a restricted residential property.

The Land Dealings (Approval) Unit administers the provisions of the Residential Property Act and its rules by:

- processing applications from foreign persons and foreign companies for approval to acquire or retain restricted residential property;

- issuing clearance certificates to Singapore companies and societies;

- prosecuting offences under the Residential Property Act; and

- dealing with general enquiries relating to the operation of the Act.

Under the Act, a foreign person is defined as a:

- person who is not a Singapore citizen:

- foreign company; and

- foreign society.

If you are a foreign person and are interested in purchasing a restricted residential property, you need to download the approved form from the SLA website. You can then submit the form together with the relevant supporting documents such as your entry and re-entry permits and qualifications to:

Land Dealings (Approval) Unit

Singapore Land Authority

8 Shenton Way


Temasek Tower

Singapore 068811

The approval will be looked upon favorably if:

(a) the individual is a permanent resident

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

(c) 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 in 1973 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 restricted residential properties but have yet to attain explicit approval from the Land Dealings (Approval) 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. 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 acquire or purchase in Singapore the following residential properties without a written approval:

(a) An apartment in a building

(b) A unit in an approved condominium development.

(c) Any non-residential, commercial or industrial property.

Note: A foreign person is not allowed to acquire all the apartments within a building or all the units in an approved condominium development without the prior approval of the Minister for Law.

For restricted residential property such as vacant land, landed properties such as bungalows, semi-detached, terrace houses, townhouses and strata landed property, foreigners need to apply for approval from Land Dealings (Approval) Unit, Singapore Land Authority before buying. For more details on application, visit the Singapore Land Authority website.