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Complete Singapore Property Purchase Guide (for my overseas readers!)



No matter which country you are staying in, buying a house is not easy. So is investing an overseas property! As the little red dot in Southeast Asia, Singapore is a popular choice for buying properties overseas, despite its small land area.


But why and how should I buy a house in Singapore? What are some of the precautions that I should take? I'm sure you have your doubts and burning questions, so hurry and read on for the most comprehensive home purchase guide!


Why should you fly all the way to Singapore to purchase a property?


During your purchase of an overseas property, not only should you consider the house itself, but also the overall environment of the selected country. As a financial hub in Asia, Singapore has economic stability, sound legal system, social stability, good public security, and a stable currency.


It is also one of the countries with the lowest tax rate. With many advantages, Singapore has gradually become one of the first choices for the globally wealthy and for corporates who are looking for global development.


1. Stable politics and currency

Singapore is politically stable and has a very well-developed financial system. Even after the financial crisis of 2008, the Singapore dollar has always been one of the most stable currencies in the world. In addition, Singapore has more than 290 billion US dollars in foreign exchange reserves, and the per capita foreign exchange reserve rate is also the world's first.


2. Singapore's government is efficient and ethical, with a sound legal system

In Singapore, whether you are a local or a foreigner, your legal rights will be protected by law. The government has also cracked down on corruption, which is one of the main reasons why Singapore has developed into an Asian financial center in just a few decades, attracting investment and talent from all over the world.


3. Transparency in transaction information

As mentioned earlier, the Singapore government is efficient and clean, and market information is often transparent and readily available. In the real estate market, the Singapore government has an official website for everyone to search for the market transaction prices, property rights, area, transaction time and other information to ensure that real estate can be traded at a reasonable market price. At the same time, the entire housing transaction requires the participation of multiple parties, including real estate brokers, lawyers, and bank personnel licensed by the Singapore government, thus further ensuring the efficiency and transparency of the transaction process.


4. Developed economy

According to the 2017 Global Financial Center Index (GFCI) ranking report, Singapore is the fourth largest international financial center after New York, London, and Hong Kong, and one of the most important service and shipping centers in Asia.


In terms of GDP per capita, Singapore is the richest country in Southeast Asia and one of the most free and competitive economies in the world. It ranks first among the world's most suitable countries for doing business.


5. Every inch of Singapore' s land has a large amount of appreciation value

Singapore's land area is only more than 700 square kilometers, but there are more than 4 million people living in it, and the population density is 55 times that of China. At the same time, as an international financial center, Singapore is also constantly attracting foreign talent to immigrate or work here, so that Singapore has further increased the value appreciation of the real estate industry.


6. First-class education

Singapore is hailed by the United Nations as the most suitable city for humans to live in; with good public security, beautiful environment and perfect infrastructure. At the same time, it has the world-renowned quality of high-quality education and TECH provides bilingual education so that every child can develop in an all-round way.


7. The overall outlook of Asia is getting rosy, Singapore has great potential as a bridge between Europe and Asia

The huge Asian market has always been favored by European and American companies. However, since the legal systems of most Asian countries are not yet fully established enough, few can communicate in fluent international languages such as English. Therefore, in many Asian countries, Singapore has become the first choice for overseas investment.


Types of property in Singapore and its purchase eligibility criteria


1. Government's Housing Development Board (HDB):

In order to achieve the goal of "home ownership", the Singaporean government has launched HDB housing, which is cheap convenient neighborhood facilities. In Singapore, about 80% of people live in government flats.


Since HDB flats are regarded as a kind of welfare for the locals, the requirements for the purchase of HDB flats are relatively strict. Among them, new HDB flats can only be purchased by Singapore citizens; second-hand HDB flats can be purchased by both spouses as long as one of them is a citizen, or jointly purchased by citizens and parents holding a long-term visa, or both spouses are permanent residents (PR) for three years the above. You can log in to the HDB official website for details.


2. Private HDB (DBSS):

An upgraded version of HDB flats that is designed, built, and sold by private developers. The purchase conditions are the same as HDB and cannot be privatized.


3. Executive Condominium (EC):

like DBSS, is designed, constructed, and sold by private developers. It has almost the same facilities as private condominiums, but the purchase conditions are similar to HDB. Unlike other types of real estate, EC is partially privatized after five years and can be resold to citizens or PR, and fully privatized after ten years and can be resold to citizens, PR or foreigners.


4. Private Condominiums (Condo) :

built and sold by private developers. Citizens, PR, and foreigners can buy them, but buyers of different identities will have to pay different stamp duties and additional stamp duties.


5. Landed:

This includes terraced houses, semi-detached houses and good class bungalows. Premium bungalows occupy an area of at least 1400 square meters and are distributed in 39 high-quality bungalows across the island. It is the top richest settlement in Singapore. However, this type of landed property has certain requirements for the identity of the buyer, and only Singapore citizens are allowed to purchase. However, individuals with outstanding talents or special contributions to Singapore can apply for purchase. In addition, Sentosa Cove on Sentosa Island is the only 99-year leasehold home that allows foreigners to purchase.


Different districts of Singapore

Singapore's land area is not large, and it is mainly divided into five areas: Central Area, East Area, Northeast Area, North Area and West Area. Among them, the central district can be subdivided into Core Central Region (CCR) and the Rest of Central Region (RCR); the remaining eastern district, northeast district, northern district and western district belong to the Outside Central Region (OCR).


At the same time, Singapore is subdivided. into 28 districts under the old postal district system. Out of the 28, here are some notable district:


District 01 (D1): Central Business District, including Marina Bay, Suntec City, Millenia Building


District 02 (D2): Central Business District, including Tanjong Pagar, Anson Road, Shenton Road, Chinatown


District 04 (D4): South, including Sentosa, Mount Fabar, Telok Blangah


District 06 (D6): Urban area, including Bugis, Municipal Building, North Bridge Road


District 09 (D9): Urban area, including Orchard Road, River Valley, Somerset


District 10 (D10): Urban area, including Bukit Timah, Tanglin Road, Nassim Road, Orchard Road


District 11 (D11): Downtown, Novena, Newton, Thomson, Bukit Timah


The first, second, and sixth postal areas are Singapore's Central Business District (CBD). Many world-renowned companies have set up offices in this area. In addition, many landmarks such as the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Marina Bay Financial Center, and Asia Square, Millenium Building, Suntec City, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel, etc. are also here.


The 9th, 10th and 11th postal areas belong to Singapore's golden postal area. The 9th postal area is the bustling Orchard Road; the 10th postal area is the Bukit Timah area, a famous high-end residential area; and the 11th postal area It is a medical center throughout Southeast Asia.


Where are the school districts in Singapore?

Singapore's education system is slightly different from China's education system. Singapore's school district is often only useful when registering for Primary One (that is, the first grade of primary school). Since the middle school, the school is based on exam results (such as the famous Primary School Leaving Examination, GCSE O-level, GCSE A-level, etc.). At the same time, Singapore does not have an official school ranking, but parents often rank schools based on the school's awards. But Bukit Timah and Tanglin Road are the more famous school district housing areas.


The enrollment of child into a primary school in Singapore is generally conducted in 7 stages, and priority is often given to children of Singapore citizens and permanent residents:


Stage 1: Brothers and sisters are studying at the school and will be admitted


Stage 2: Parents are members of the school's alumni association, school manager or board member


Stage 3: Brothers and sisters, the parents were enrolled in the school, or the parents are employees of the school


Stage 4: Parents have been volunteering for 40 hours in the school, or the parents are active community leaders, or relevant institutions recognized by the school


Phase 5: Open to Singapore citizens, distance first


Phase 6: Open to Singapore permanent residents, distance. priority


Phase 7: Open to everyone


It should be noted that the first four stages mentioned above are open to the children of Singapore citizens who meet certain conditions. The fifth stage is open to the general public. If a ballot is required, Singapore citizens will have priority and only later It is determined by the distance from home to school. Children of foreigners can only register at the final stage. Of course, in addition to government public schools, Singapore also has many high quality international schools for reference.


Property Purchase Process


1. Clarify the eligibility and types of properties that can be purchased:

For specific details, please refer to the "Types of property in Singapore and its purchase eligibility criteria" that we mentioned earlier in the article.


2. Be clear about your own home purchase budget

Make sure you have enough funds to complete the real estate transaction (including house payment, stamp duty, lawyer fees, etc.), and understand the taxes you need to pay.


3. Find a reliable real estate agent, start by visiting the show flat and visit the display unit

A reliable real estate agent can help you solve many troubles of buying a house overseas. Not only can you find a cost effective house, but he/she can also help you sort out the financial situation of buying a house, help you handle the complicated documents and so on.


When you have a certain real estate of your choice, you can let the real estate. agent arrange for you to view the house on the spot, take you to visit the model house at the agreed time, and understand the specific details of the living environment, area, space design and so on.


4. Submit letter of intent and blank check

After selecting your desired unit, you need to fill out a letter of intent and a blank check to get the opportunity to choose a unit on the day of the sale.


5. Obtaining your unit number on the day of sale

Buying a house is not a trivial matter. On the day of the sale of your favorite property, after you obtain the number of your favorite unit, you have to confirm once again that you are satisfied with the apartment type and price. Then choose a room, sign an option to purchase (OTP) and pay a certain percentage of the unit as a deposit (usually 5%).


6. Pay 15% of the house payment as down payment

Before you start this step, you need to find a lawyer to participate in the subsequent purchase process. Within 2 weeks after the deposit is paid, the developer will hand you the sale and purchase agreement (S&PA) of the house. Within 3 weeks of receiving the sale and purchase transaction contract, you need to make the final purchase decision. If you decide not to buy at this time, you can only get back 75% of the deposit (the deducted part is the penalty); if you choose to continue to buy, you need to find a lawyer to sign a lawyer agreement and sign a sale within 3 weeks protocol. And pay another 15% of the house payment to the developer within 8 weeks. Payment can be given to your lawyer in the form of a check, which will be forwarded to the developer on their behalf.


7. Pay stamp duty

Within 3 weeks after you receive the official sales and purchase contract from the developer, you must sign the execution of the transaction and pay the stamp tax for the purchase of the house to the Singapore government within 2 weeks from the date of execution of the transaction.


8. Wait for the apartment to be built

While waiting for the apartment to be handed over, the remaining 80% of the apartment will be paid in stages based on the completion of the building. If you want to pay the remaining 80% of the payment in cash, your lawyer will contact you to make the payment if necessary. If you pay by provident fund or bank loan, your lawyer will do the rest of the paperwork.


9. The developer will notify you to take the key, please check for defects and move into your new home!

Once the building is completed, the developer will notify you or your lawyer. At this time, you can prepare to take the keys, check the condition of the house, check whether there are any defects, and then you can move to your new home and prepare to move in!


How to transfer money to Singapore when buying a house?

When buying a house in China, payment is never a hassle. But when it comes to buying a house overseas, there will be various steps such as exchange rates, remittance and various restrictions. According to the regulations of relevant Chinese authorities, the transfer of personal immigration property purchase and payment of foreign exchange belongs to the category of personal foreign exchange management of capital projects in the foreign exchange business and needs to be approved by the regulatory agency before it can be processed.


If you have acquired Singapore citizenship or permanent resident status in Singapore, you can legally purchase and pay foreign exchange as long as the property you owned in the country before obtaining legal immigration status meets the requirements.


Do note that the funds applied for transfer abroad should be the legal property owned by the person, and there should be no disputes with others about the rights and interests.


If the applicant intends to transfer funds for an immigration property with a total amount of less than US$500,000, he does not need to submit the following income source certificate and property rights certificate, but only need to declare the source of funds (original or copy).


1. For personal income (including wages and salary income, remuneration, salary paid for services provided, etc.), proof of relevant sources of income should be submitted.


2. For the operating income including the private business owners, individual shareholders of the enterprise, the income from the production and operation of the individual industrial and commercial households, the income from the contracting of the enterprises and institutions, and the rental operation), you have to submit the self-employed business income declaration form, equity certificate or contract, lease contract or agreement and documents proving the source(s) of your income, such as the company's financial statements and the distribution of the company's board of directors.


3. For capital income and realization:

  • Proceeds from interest, dividends, and dividends should be submitted with deposit certificates, account opening for stocks and bonds, and transaction. records.

  • Proceeds from property lease, income from property transfer, use of concessions, etc. shall be substantiated with:

a. Contracts or agreements for property lease, transfer, and use. of concessions.


b. Housing property certificate.


c. Real estate sales contract or demolition compensation and resettlement agreement.


4. Accidental income (including legal welfare lottery, sports lottery, etc.) and other property or income are required to submit. proof of real transaction records.


Applicants for immigration property transfer, purchase and remittances need to apply in writing to the foreign exchange bureau in advance with the following materials. The documents required include:


1. Written application. The content includes: the reasons for applying for immigration transfer; detailed explanations on the source of property income and the realization of property realization, etc.


2. The "Applicant Status Table for External Transfer of Immigrant Property" signed by the applicant himself.


3. "Application Form for Foreign Exchange of Foreign Transfer of Personal Property" signed by the applicant or his agent.


4. The applicant's identification document.

If you move to Singapore, you should provide the Chinese household registration cancellation certificate issued by the public security agency and the applicant's residence certificate. abroad issued or certified by the Chinese embassy abroad.


5. The applicant's property rights certificate. For example, a copy of the house property certificate, a real estate sales contract or a demolition compensation and resettlement agreement, and other supporting documents.


6. The tax certificate or tax payment certificate issued by the tax authority in the place where the property is transferred or the source of income.


7. Other information required by the foreign exchange administration.


8. If you entrust others to handle, you will still need to provide the agency agreement and the identity certificate of the agent. The agency agreement and relevant property rights certification shall be notarized in accordance with the relevant notarization regulations of the state.


In addition, if the total amount of foreign transfer of property applied for is less than or equal to RMB 500,000, the local foreign exchange bureau shall approve it.


After approval, the local foreign exchange bureau issues an approval reply letter and an approval document to the applicant. The applicant can take the approval document and go to the local designated foreign exchange bank to go through the foreign exchange purchase and payment procedures.


Any amount exceeding the above amount shall be reported to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange for approval after the initial examination by the local foreign exchange bureau.


Based on the approval document of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the local foreign exchange bureau issues an approval reply letter and an approval document to the applicant.


With the approval document, the applicant goes to the local designated foreign exchange bank to go through the foreign exchange purchase and payment procedures.


After the designated foreign exchange bank handles the sale of foreign exchange, it shall directly transfer the foreign exchange to the account of the applicant or the country of residence of the immigrant or of their heir. During this period, they shall not withdraw foreign currency cash within the country.


However, if it is not because of immigration reasons that you obtained domestic personal legal property, if you want to remit Singapore dollars to Singapore, you must abide by the foreign exchange quota of 50,000 US dollars per Chinese citizen per year.


Have questions or doubts? I welcome all enquiries.


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