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Can Permanent Residents and Foreigners buy landed Properties?

Updated: Feb 11

The short answer is NO. But hold on, there is a catch.

In land scarce Singapore, landed residential properties are generally reserved only for Singaporeans to own. It doesn't matter whether it is freehold or 99 years. As long as it is a restricted property, a foreigner person is not allowed to purchase or own it.










FOREIGNER PERSON

So WHO is considered a "Foreign Person"?

A foreign person means any person who is NOT any of the following:

  • Singapore citizen

  • Singapore company

  • Singapore limited liability partnership

  • Singapore society

So if you are NONE OF THE ABOVE, then you are a foreign person and you cannot buy landed residential properties in Singapore.


Then, what are restricted properties?


Restricted properties include - vacant residential land; terrace house; semi-detached house; bungalow/detached house; strata landed house which is not within an approved condominium development under the Planning Act (eg. townhouse or cluster house); shophouse (for non-commercial use); association premises; place of worship; and worker’s dormitory/service apartment/boarding house (not registered under the provisions of the Hotels Act).

Can a permanent resident (PR) buy restricted properties?

The answer is also NO.

But there are exceptions.

A foreign person who wishes to purchase a restricted property is required to seek approval under the Residential Property Act.


So if you are a Permanent resident and you really wish to purchase a landed property in Singapore, you still have a chance of being able to do so. You can apply to do so under the Residential Property Act at the Singapore Land Authority - Land Dealings Approval Unit (LDAU)


Each applicant is assessed on a case-by-case basis, but at the very minimum, you should be a permanent resident of Singapore for at least five years. You must also make exceptional economic contribution to Singapore. This is assessed taking into consideration factors such as your employment income assessable for tax in Singapore.



Procedure


To submit an application, go to the Land Dealings Approval Unit at SLA and apply online.


There are 2 options -

Option 1) Apply for approval to buy a residential property and

Option 2) Apply for approval in-principle to buy a residential property


You choose option 1 when you already decided on the place that you want to purchase, and have obtained the Option to Purchase for that property. You choose option 2 if you have the intention to purchase a landed property, but have not found or decided on the property itself.


I strongly recommend everyone to go for Option 2. Apply for the approval in-principle BEFORE entering into any contract to purchase a restricted property in case you are not granted approval to acquire the property.



If approval in-principle is granted, you have ONE year to find the place your like and to submit the details of the property you intend to purchase. Otherwise, the approval will lapse and you will have to make a new application. There will be no extension of validity for the approval in-principle granted.


Property Size

This property's land size that you choose must also not exceed 15,000 sqft regardless of whether it is freehold or leasehold. Which means Good Class Bungalows which are of a minimum size of slightly more than 15,000 sqft are off limits.


Processing Time & Costs

Processing time is about 1 month. Processing Fee is $1,220.


Minimum Occupation Period

Do take note. Not only HDBs are subjected to minimum occupation period. If you are a foreigner who had purchased your landed property under the LDAU route, your property is subject to a 5 year non-disposal condition. This means you have to stay in the property for a minimum of 5 years and you are not allowed to sell or rent it out within the 5 years.


Changing restricted properties

If you need to change from one restricted property to another, you would need to make a new application to LDAU. Once approved, you would need to dispose the first property within 3 months from the date of possession of the second restricted property.


Foreigner Inherited a restricted property

If you are a foreign person who had inherited a restricted property without LDAU's approval, then you will need to sell it within 5 years from the date of inheritance. If you would like to keep it, then you would need to make an application to LDAU to get approval within 5 years.




Buy Land instead of House

If instead of buying a resale restricted property, you decide that you would like to buy land to construct your own house. Then you have to seek approval from LDAU and once approved, you have to complete the construction within 36 months. Your 5 year minimum occupation period starts from the TOP or Certificate of completion, whichever is earlier.


Note

Take note, Singaporeans are not allowed to hold restricted property on trust for any foreign person. And if you own a restricted property and decide to give up your PR status or Citizenship, you will need to sell your restricted property within 2 years.



Sentosa Cove

When it comes to Sentosa Cove, things are slightly different over there. Foreigners who are interested in purchasing properties in the Sentosa Cove still need to submit their application to the LDAU. However, you do not need to be a Permanent Resident, or contribute to the Singapore economy. The assessment criteria is more relaxed, and there is also no minimum occupation period. The land size of the property must not exceed 18,000 sqft, and similarly, it is strictly for owner occupation only and renting out is not allowed.



Personally, my husband and I had went through the entire procedure of applying for the approval in-principle to buy a restricted property in 2018. We were very lucky to have been successfully in our application and purchased our landed property shortly after the approval was granted. The application itself was very easy and smooth. When the administrator needed more documents from us, they contacted us via emails and it was all very efficiently done.


We contemplated long and hard whether we wanted to go through with the application because it was after all an extra step with uncertainties. But we followed our hearts, gave it a shot, and were blessed with a positive outcome.


If you are reading this and facing the same dilemma as we did before, fret not. The entire process is much easier than it seems! If you need to chat with someone who has been there, feel free to contact me for a chat!


I hope I have cleared all your questions and doubts on foreigners purchasing restricted properties in Singapore. If you have any property related matters, feel free to contact me at 8268 1409.


 


You might be interested in these readings -


Are landed properties good investments in Singapore?

Are freehold landed properties always better than leasehold?




About the Author

Jayne is a licensed real estate agent who is passionate about helping others find their dream homes.


She is a mother of 3 amazing children and a cute but silly maltipoo named Cookie. She claims she doesn't have a favourite, but just between you and me, I think she loves the 4-legged kid the most.


She is a morning person. You can usually find her working out, meditating and/or reading a book over a cup of black coffee on the roof terrace in the morning.


Her super power is her attitude of gratitude, and so with a thankful heart, thank you for being here!


Call Jayne at 8268 1409 to chat about your real estate matters!