Buying Property in Singapore For Expats

Expats may buy Singapore properties for residential use. However, there are procedures that must be followed. Foreigners who wish to purchase property for residential purposes must adhere to the regulations stipulated in the Residential Property Act that was enacted into law in 1973.


Residential Property Act

The law states that expats may buy apartments in developments that aren’t designated as condominiums providing the buildings have fewer than six stories without having previous permission from the government. Some residential properties under the law are restricted. These include:

  • Terrace houses
  • Bungalows
  • Semi-detached homes

The Residential Property Act includes land that’s vacant in the restricted category. Any potential buyer from a foreign country must fill out an application and submit it to the Singapore Land Authority to purchase residential property that is considered to be restricted. The Housing Development Board imposes certain restrictions on HDB shop houses, executive condominiums, and flats owned by the HDB.


Terrace house




Why Restrictions Are in Place

Most of the residents in Singapore live in what is known as housing estates that the Housing Development Board manages. The estates are within self-sustaining communities that include:

  • Clinics or hospitals
  • Recreation facilities
  • Schools
  • Sports arenas
  • Supermarkets

Since there are limited housing estates available for sale or HDB resale, proof of permanent residency or evidence that a Singapore citizen is buying the property is necessary.


Executive Condominiums

Different rules apply to those who buy Executive Condominiums. This type of residential housing was designed with graduate students and professionals in mind. Most of the people in this income bracket can afford more than the standard apartment, but aren’t ready to commit to private home ownership. These condominiums have features similar to what is found in higher priced condos sold by the Housing Development Board, more competitively priced, and sold by private building contractors.



Rules For Executive Condominiums

A first-time buyer of an EC must retain ownership for at least five years after the purchase. After five years have passed, the owner may sell to a Singapore resident. An expat may buy one of the condos after ten years. This makes Executive Condominiums a good investment.

One of the essential factors to keep in mind when searching for residential property in Singapore is the location and how much you are willing to pay for the property.