Commonly Asked Questions

Property

You are eligible to engage HDB to act for the sale of your HDB flat if you have an existing HDB loan of fully paid flat. You are eligible to engage HDB to act for the purchase of your HDB flat if you are using HDB loan or purchasing with no loan. You can check HDB legal fees here. HDB legal fees is based on a percentage of the transacted price of the HDB flat. The legal fees is usually lower compare to engaging a private lawyer.  

If you are selling or purchasing with a bank loan, you are required to engage a private lawyer to act on your behalf. The legal fees range from S$1,500 – S$3,000 for typical property purchase. However, if you have more complex cases such as divorce, please check with the lawyer directly on their fees.

Most buyer agents do not charge commission for the services they render if you are buying a private property, they will likely take their fair share of their commission from the seller agent.

If you are buying a new home, they will take their commission from the developers directly.

However, commission is payable if they assist you in purchasing a HDB flat.

The premium for fire insurance is dependable on the value of your property and the coverage of the property. Most basic fire insurance premium range from as little as a few dollars to $100 or more per month. It is compulsory to have fire insurance if you are taking any loan or using CPF to purchase any property. If you are buying a HDB flat, you can read more on fire insurance here.

If you are buying a private property. You can read more on fire insurance here.

Service & conservancy charges is usually paid for the upkeep of the HDB estate and based on the HDB flat type. The service & conservancy charges payable for HDB flats range from a $20 for a 1-Room flat to $100+ for an executive flat. You can refer to Jurong Town Council fees here as a reference.

Property tax is a wealth tax levied on property ownership. It is not a tax on rental income. All property owners have to pay property tax based on the value of their property, irrespective of whether the property is occupied or vacant.  Lower property tax rates for owner-occupied residential properties

For non-owner occupied residential properties or investment properties. The owner does not live in the property therefore, owner-occupier tax rates do not apply. Thus, they will be required to be a higher tax rate.

Any rental income collected from renting out the property is considered as taxable income. This rental income will be consolidated as part of your annual income for that financial year and is taxable by IRAS. Read more here.  

Yes and No. Generally, the gains derived from the sale of a property in Singapore are not taxable as it is a capital gain. The gains may be taxable if the individual buys and sells property with a profit-seeking motive. When a person is deemed to be trading in properties, the gains from the sale of property in Singapore is considered taxable income. Whether a person is deemed to be carrying on a trade will depend on individual circumstances.

Some criteria used by IRAS to assess if you are trading in properties are as follows:

  • Frequency of transactions (buying and selling of properties);
  • Reasons for acquiring and selling of property;
  • Financial means to hold the property for long term; and
  • Holding period

The sale and lease of all properties in Singapore are subject to GST, except for the sale and lease of residential properties which are exempt from GST.

Yes. Rental income refers to the full amount of rental income you receive and related payments you make when you rent out your property. This includes rent of the premises, maintenance, furniture and fittings. Rental income is subject to income tax. This means that any profit or net amount left once you have added together your rental income and deducted any allowable expenses is taxable.

There are 2 types of tax rates. Net rental income earned by foreigners who are tax residents of Singapore are taxed at resident rates. Net rental income earned by foreigners who are non-residents are taxed at the prevailing non-resident rate of 22%.

Mortgage

If you are taking a HDB concessionary housing loan. You will be required to have a HDB loan eligibility (HLE) letter. Please refer to HDB website for more information.

If you are taking a housing loan from a bank or financial institution. Theses are the following documents required for a housing loan application:

    • Duly completed loan application form
    • Copy of Identity Card
    • Latest certified true copy of your income documents:
      • Pay slip or employment letter AND bank statement (latest 3 months) showing salary credit.
      • For self-employed, latest 3 months’ bank statements and latest two years’ notice of tax assessment
    • Copy of property’s option to purchase or copy of Sales & Purchase Agreement.

Yes. Fire insurance is required by the bank to insure your property against the risk of fire. You may at your own discretion purchase mortgage insurance for your mortgage. There are many mortgage insurance providers that can be found online.

This is usually a relative unknown mortgage stamp fees you need to pay when securing any housing loan. The mortgage stamp fee is cap at a maximum of $500. You can read more here.

Singapore Laws

Yes. Singapore is a member of an international task force, called FATF (Financial Action Task Force), which is formed to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. The FATF has published 40 recommendations for countries to adopt in combating money laundering and terrorism financing. Singapore has an obligation to implement these recommendations. The FATF recommendations apply to the real estate and other professional sectors. These include the financial sector as well as other businesses and professions such as the public accountants, casinos, moneylenders, pawnbrokers, company service providers, developers and lawyers.

A definite yes! Singapore as a financial hub and a leading economy in Asia has a strict rule of law. You will be assured that buying a property in Singapore is safe and secure. Singapore also has a very strong land registry whereby all property transactions will be recorded.

No. There used to be a policy that if you have invested in a certain amount of money in property and in other business, permanent residency status may be granted. However, this policy has since been abolished.

Yes. Singapore respects the rule of law. In any property transaction, the contract will be clearly spelt out for you to go through.  If you have any doubts, you may consult your solicitors to go through with you. The property transaction will be registered with the Singapore Land Authority and conveyancing lawyers will be on hand to assist in a smooth transaction.

Yes. You will need a local bank account to pay for the monthly installment and also to collect any form of rental if you plan to rent out the property.

Foreigner buying property in Singapore

Foreigners are welcome to invest in most Singapore properties from residential, commercial, retail to industrial properties. However, there are some restrictions. Foreigners are not eligible to purchase any landed properties unless they have approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU). LDAU is a department within the Singapore Land Authority (SLA). SLA is a government department that regulates all land matters in Singapore. Alternatively, foreigners are eligible to invest in landed properties in Sentosa. Foreigners are also not eligible to buy any HDB flats (Public housing) or Executive Condominium. The HDB flats and Executive Condominiums are reserved mainly for citizens.

Yes. Singapore properties are open to all nationalities to buy for own stay or for investment. But it is always good to check with your embassy for any restriction. 

There are no minimum purchase price for foreigners when buying any property in Singapore.

Yes. You can use any incorporated company whether registered locally or overseas to purchase a property in Singapore. However, it is always good to check with locally based solicitors for more complex transactions.

Foreigners or purchasing a residential property in Singapore are required to pay taxes on their purchase. The Buyer Stamp Duty(BSD) and Addition Buyer Stamp Duty(ABSD) are the 2 main taxes. 

Alan Wee
CEA Reg Number R024730A
ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd