In any country, native citizens and foreigners are not treated equally when it comes to owning property or starting businesses. Singapore is no exception but it has done its best to accommodate foreigners in their quest for property and business ownership. As Singapore is an economic powerhouse in Asia, it is expected that many investors and expatriates will decide to own condominiums. In this article, we look at what expatriates need to know and do before they can legally own a condominium.
What expatriates need to know
The Residential Property Act – since the implementation of the Residential Property Act (RPA) in 1973, the government of Singapore has been very strict about how foreigners own and acquire land. This is not an indication of exclusionary policies against foreigners. The Singapore government does this to deal with land shortage for all residents of Singapore.
Understand what a foreigner is – before you can be labelled a foreigner, you need to know how the law defines a foreigner. A foreigner is not a person or company that is not native to Singapore. This simply means that you are not a citizen, company, society or limited liability partnership of Singapore.
Legal documents – you need to have legal and valid documents in order to stay, work or conduct business in Singapore. You are also expected to have your legal documents in order before you can own a condominium in the country.
Term of ownership – when you buy property in Singapore, the government will charge you if you sell it within the first four years. This charge is known as the Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD). You will need to know how long you will be staying in the country before you buy a condominium. If you think that your stay is going to be less than four years, then it might be better to rent a property in order to avoid paying the SSD.
However, if you decide to leave the country before four years, you can still rent the place out and earn some money. This makes more sense to keep the condominium for longer because it will appreciate in value and give you a good return when you sell it. This is especially true if you choose a condominium like the Martin Modern Project in Singapore, where its location will allow for its value to appreciate.
- Cost and financing – banks of Singapore will not just give you a loan to finance your purchase of a condominium. They will need to know your source of income and if your salary is high enough. Once that has been established and everything checks out, they will only give you 80% of the required cost. You are therefore required to have cash at your disposal to buy the condo.
- Avoid buyer’s remorse – you need to be aware that you may never change your place of residence when you buy a condominium. Make sure that you buy a condominium that meets your needs, expectations, and lifestyle.
Is buying property worthwhile?
Many expatriates go to Singapore with the intention of finding work and returning to their native countries after a certain period of time. However, some expatriates end up having families and owning a condominium becomes a necessity. If you have the chance and means to own a condominium, grab it with both hands because you don’t know what the future holds for you.