Who Is Considered a Foreigner?

Simply put, if you are not a Singaporean national, a Singaporean corporation, a Singapore limited liability partnership, or a Singapore organization, you are regarded as a foreigner. Singapore Permanent Residents (SPRs) are also regarded as foreigners.

What Foreigners Can and Can’t Buy

Under the Residential Property Act, a foreigner can buy both public housing and private properties. However, there are restrictions on what foreigners can and can’t buy.

Public/Public-Private Hybrid Homes

The public housing market falls under the Housing and Development Board (HDB) with certain restrictions.

Note that both Singapore PRs and non-Singapore PRs are restricted from buying new HDB flats such as Build-to-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBFs) as singles (you have to be married to a Singapore Citizen).

There are also several conditions:

Eligibility for Foreigners Buying Property in Singapore

1. If You’re a Non-Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) Buying Alone

You can only buy a privatised executive condominium (EC) that is more than 10 years old.

2. If You’re a Singapore PR Buying Alone

Apart from new HDB flats, Singapore PRs can’t buy a resale HDB flat alone, and can only buy resale ECs that have reached their 5-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP).

3. If You’re a Singapore PR Jointly Buying With Another Singapore PR

A resale HDB flat (3 years after obtaining your PR)

A resale EC that is more than five years old

A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

4. If You’re a Singapore PR Buying With a Non-Singapore PR

A resale EC that is more than five years old

A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

5. If You’re Jointly Buying as a Non-Singapore PR Couple

A privatised EC that is more than 10 years old

Buying Property as a Singaporean-Foreigner Couple

If you are wondering whether you can buy a property as a mixed nationality couple, you can!

You are allowed to purchase only a 2-room Flexi BTO flat in non-mature estates or any type of resale flat (excluding 3Gen flats and Prime Location Public Housing resale flats).  However, your foreign spouse must be listed as an essential occupier because HDB does not allow foreigners to have any ownership of an HDB flat.

As an essential occupier is not an owner,  you do not have to pay Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) as an essential occupier.   

Private Properties

Unlike public housing, private properties have much lesser restrictions and are probably what you’ll be more favourable to buying. They also come with better fittings, and designs and are generally closer to the Central Business District (CBD). If you’re buying a private condominium, they also come with facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, saunas, and more. The flip side is that they are more expensive compared to public housing.

Foreigner Eligibility for Buying Private Property in Singapore

Here are the common property types that foreigners are eligible to buy:

Foreigner Restrictions for Buying Private Property in Singapore

There are certain restrictions for foreigners when buying a landed property on the main island of Singapore.

As such, you will need to write to the Land Dealings Approval Unit when looking to purchase the following:

  1. Vacant residential land
  2. Terrace house
  3. Semi-detached house
  4. Bungalow/detached house
  5. Strata landed house which is not within an approved condominium development under the Planning Act (e.g. townhouse or cluster house)
  6. Shophouse (for non-commercial use)

The approval is on a case-by-case basis. Applicants stand a better chance if they can show proof that they have made an “exceptional economic contribution to Singapore”, as SLA puts it.

You can apply online on SLA’s website. Alternatively, you can visit them at the following address: Taxpayer and Business Service Centre, Level 1, Revenue House. Do note visits to the Service Centre are strictly by appointment only.

In conclusion, the table below which is a summary of who can buy what as a foreigner single and couple.

For ease reference:

SC = Singapore Citizen

SPR = Singapore Permanent Resident

Foreigner = non-SPRs

Can I purchase:Buying as Married Couple
Two Permanent ResidentsSingapore Citizen &  Permanent ResidentSingapore Citizen & ForeignerSPR & Foreigner
New HDBNoYesOnly 2-room flexi BTONo
New ECNoYesNoNo
Resale HDBYes (1)Yes (1)Only buy under Singles scheme > 35 years old. Foreign spouse listed as essential occupierNo
Resale ECYesYesYes (2)Yes (2)
Condo/apartment/Strata landed housing inside condoYesYesYesYes
Landed propertiesYes (3)Yes (3)NoNo
Sentosa landed propertiesYes (3)Yes (3)Yes (3)Yes (3)
Can I purchase:Buying as a single (not married)
SCForeigner SPRForeigner non-SPR
New HDBRestricted to 2-room flats in non-mature estates (1)NoNo
New ECMust apply with another SC Single (1)NoNo
Resale HDBYes (1)NoNo
Resale ECYesYesYes (2)
Condo/apartment/Strata landed housing inside condoYesYesYes
Landed propertiesYesYes (3)No
Sentosa landed propertiesYesYes (3)Yes (3)