Buying Property in Singapore

Private residential prices rose for a second straight quarter in the final three months of 2017, reinforcing signs that Singapore’s property market is emerging from a four-year slump. Now it’s a good time to consider buying a property in Singapore to ride the wave of housing market recovery.

Singapore home price is on the rise now, prices may rise as much as 8-10% and up to 17 percent over the period 2018 to 2021, supported by higher economic growth, falling physical completions and ongoing collective sale deals. Some analysts even forecast the home price to double by 2030.

So before we look into Singapore property investment, it is good to understand some of the rules and regulations pertaining to the purchase of a private residential unit.

Private Property Buying Guide

What to expect when purchasing a private property in Singapore?

To purchase any private residential property in Singapore, there are a few things to take note of.

  1. Ensure you have fulfilled your minimum occupation period if you are an HDB or executive condominium owner.
  2. Ensure you are eligible to purchase a landed property (strata-titled or any form of landed housing) if you are a Permanent Resident or Foreigner. The only exceptions are some strata landed housing(within a condominium complex) which was launched before 4th April 2012 or those landed houses located at Sentosa Island. This is in accordance with the Residential Property Act.
  3. Ensure you are eligible to take a loan based on the property price.
  4. Ensure you understand the current stamp duty based on your residency as well as the number of properties you are holding on to.
  5. Ensure you have engaged a lawyer to aid you in the conveyancing process. The lawyer will do the necessary checks, liaise with the CPF board, banks, and communicate with the developer on key collection.
  6. You have to be above the age of 21.

Once you have done the preliminary checks and ready to make a purchase, here’s what to expect from the timeline of your initial deposit.

Timeline of Purchasing A New Launch Property (Building Under Construction Or TOP without CSC)

Day 1Choose a Unit. Sign Option To Purchase issued by the developerA booking fee of 5%-10% to the developer’s project account.
Within 14 days from Day 1The Developer must deliver the Sales and Purchase agreement to the buyer or buyer’s lawyer.Nil
Within 3 weeks of Delivery of S&PBuyer must exercise within this 3-week time frame or risk forfeiting 25% of the booking fee. Exercising of option is done at the lawyer’s office. The lawyer may request the payment of stamp duties during this time(See Below).Nil
Within 14 days of Exercising OptionPayment of stamp duty.Buyer’s Stamp Duty as well as any Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duties.
Within 8 weeks from Day 1Buyer to transfer the remainder of the initial downpayment(CPF/Cash) to the developer’s project account. The rest of the payment will be progressive.20% minus booking fee
Generally 1 year from Day 1. Dependent on many factorsCompletion of foundation work10%
Generally 6 months laterCompletion of the reinforced concrete framework of the unit10%
Generally 6 months laterCompletion of partition walls of the unit5%
Generally 6 months laterCompletion of roofing/ceiling of the unit5%
Generally 6 months laterCompletion of door sub-frames/ door frames, window frames, electrical wiring, internal plastering, and plumbing of unit5%
Generally 6 months laterCompletion of the car park, roads, and drains serving the housing project5%
Generally 6 months laterTemporary Occupation Permit or Certificate of Statutory Completion25%
Generally 1 year from TOP.On completion date15%

Timeline of Purchasing A Resale Property Or A New Property After CSC

Day 1The buyer gives an offer to purchase to the seller. If the seller accepts, issues Option To Purchase1% Booking Fee
Generally within 14 days from day 1. Can vary depending on the offer to purchase.Buyer exercise option to purchase (OTP). Exercising of option is done at the lawyer’s office. The lawyer may request the payment of stamp duties to IRAS during this time(See Below).4% Exercise Fee
Within 14 days of Exercising OptionPayment of stamp duty.Standard Buyer’s stamp duty as well as any Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duties.
Generally 10 weeks from the exercising option. Can vary depending on the offer to purchase.Buyer to transfer the remainder (CPF/Cash) to the resale owner/developer’s account. Completion is also done at the lawyer’s office.95%


(BSD)Buyer stamp duty and(ABSD) Additional Buyer stamp duty

What is stamp duty in Singapore?

Stamp duty is a tax on documents relating to the purchase or lease of a property. It is to be paid by the buyer to IRAS within 14 days after the date of the document (e.g. Sale & Purchase Agreement, Tenancy Agreement) if the document is signed in Singapore. If the document is signed overseas, it has to be paid within 30 days after the date of its receipt in Singapore.

Typically Buyer’s Stamp Duty is paid on the acceptance of the Option to Purchase (OTP) / Sale and Purchase Agreements (S&P). These documents are prepared and signed when you buy or sell your property. Stamp Duty is payable on the actual price or market price, whichever is higher. The buyer is responsible for paying the Buyer’s Stamp Duty.

New Buyer’s Stamp duty rates.

The government will raise the top marginal buyer’s stamp duty rates for residential properties from 3 percent to 4 percent with effect on 20 February 2018.

Residential Properties that value more than S$ 1 million will be affected by the new rates.

A calculation of the Buyer’s Stamp Duty for residential property

Payment% of Stamp Duty
On the first S$180,0001%
Next S$180,0002%
Next S$640,0003%
Remaining Amount4%

To simplify the stamp duty calculation for the property;

Below S$ 1 million: Purchase Price (S$) x 3% -S$5,400

Above S$ 1 million: Purchase Price (S$) x 4% -S$15,400

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) was first introduced on 7 December 2011 as one of the cooling measures and was revised upwards on 12 Jan 2013 to further control the escalating housing prices in Singapore. A New revision of Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) was implemented on 6 July 2018.

There are nationalities of a few countries which would be treated as Singaporeans (for purposes of the ABSD) due to the Free Trade Agreements between Singapore and these countries.

Under the respective FTAs, Nationals or Permanent Residents of the following countries will be accorded the same Stamp Duty treatment as Singapore Citizens:

  1. Nationals and Permanent Residents of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland
  2. Nationals of the United States of America

This is not automatic and you will still need to submit an application to IRAS. Foreign investors who are eligible can submit an application of remission through their legal representative who can manage their stump duty treatment and transactions with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) on your behalf.

Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)

Before going into more details, Singapore buyers who own HDB units (flats from the Housing and Development Board) must fulfill the minimum occupation period (MOP) before they are allowed to purchase private residential property. Typically the MOP is 5 years.

The MOP of HDB is calculated from the date you collect the keys to your flat. It excludes any period where you do not occupy the flat, such as when the whole flat is rented out or when there has been an infringement of the flat lease.

Types of HDB Sold Flats


Computation of MOP

Flats bought from HDB5 yearsFrom the date of taking possession/collection of the keys to the unit
Resale flats bought with CPF Housing Grant
Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flats bought from the developer
Resale flats purchased without CPF Housing Grant
(for resale applications submitted on or after 30 August 2010)

As for the private residential development, the date starts from;

  • The date on which the Option to Purchase (OTP) the private property is exercised
  • Date of the Sale and Purchase Agreement of the private property, regardless of whether it is still under construction or ready for possession

Loan to value (Singapore property)

Loan to value (LTV) is one of the key criteria when a home buyer decides on a housing loan. It is simply a term to describe the housing loan quantum a bank or financial institution is willing to offer as a percentage to the valuation of the property

Effective July 2018


LTV limit for your 1st property loan
-75% LTV limit for loan tenure of 30 years or less
-55% LTV limit for loan tenure of more than 30 years, or if loan extends past the age of 65

LTV limit for your 2nd property loan
-50% LTV for loan tenure of 30 years or less
-30% LTV for loan tenure of more than 30 years, or if loan extends past the age of 65

LTV limit for your 3rd property loan
-40% LTV for loan tenure of 30 years or less
-20% LTV for loan tenure of more than 30 years, or if loan extends past the age of 65

Other conditions:
If the borrower is a shell company or not an individual, the LTV limit is 15%.