Foreigners who are interested in doing so, can own property in Singapore can do so, but like Australia, there are restrictions, and the process is tightly regulated by the Residential Property Act and the Singapore Land Authority. Similar comments apply to commercial property.
Who is a foreigner?
The Act defines a foreigner to be any person who is not a Singaporean citizen, permanent resident, or corporate entity incorporated domestically.
Private apartments & condominiums
Foreigners can buy private apartments and condominiums without a limit on value or quantity. There is no restriction on the size, location, or number of these properties a foreigner can own.
However, foreigners are restricted in relation to the ownership of ‘executive condominiums.’ This is because these properties are government-subsidised. These properties can only be purchased by foreigners 10 years after construction.
Landed properties & Housing & Development Board flats
There are two main restrictions governing the ownership of residential property by foreigners.
Foreigners are not generally permitted to buy landed residential properties like detached houses, bungalows, or terrace houses. Government approval is needed, and that approval will only be given if the foreigner has made a strong economic contribution to Singapore, for example, through large investment. Interested foreigners may apply through the Singapore Land Authority.
One important exception to the ownership of landed property applies to specific areas on Sentosa Island.
Secondly, foreigners cannot apply for housing subsidised by the Housing & Development Board (HDB). HDB properties are government-subsidised housing units that are sold by the Board to the public under a 99-year lease contract. Additionally, foreigners cannot buy HDB flats that are sold by previous owners after they have fulfilled the minimum occupation period, even though the price of these resold flats is not regulated by the HDB.
Housing & Development Board restrictions on commercial properties
Foreigners are more limited when it comes to the ownership of commercial properties, including shops, hotels, offices, factories, warehouses, and retail malls. Many complex restrictions govern the ownership of these types of properties by foreigners.
Thinking of purchasing a property in Singapore?
Our team at Expat Taxes can help foreigners and permanent resident expats complete property transactions in Singapore, including managing the associated taxation implications. We have over 15 years of experience in this area, so please book a consultation with one of our specialists if you’re looking for advice or assistance with your Australian tax returns.