Guide For Expats Buying Homes In Singapore

With the increase of the additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) to 60% for foreigners in 2023, many expats will think twice of purchasing homes in Singapore, however, those who are sure about relocating here may not be deterred. Whether you’re an expat looking to invest in properties in Singapore or to settle down here with a home, here’s a quick overview of the types of properties available, how to qualify for these properties, and the important considerations to keep in mind.

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Types Of Properties Expats May Qualify For In Singapore

Currently, expats who convert to Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) status may be allowed to purchase with another owner or occupier who is a Singapore Citizen (SC) or Singapore PR. If all the proposed owners are PR expats, they and the essential occupiers must have held permanent residency for at least 3 years.

What Expats Who Convert To PRs May Be Able Buy What Non-Singapore PR Expats May Be Able To Buy
Property type
  • Resale HDB flats
  • Resale ECs which have reached their Minimum Occupation Period (MOP)
  • Private condos
  • Strata-landed properties
  • Landed properties (subject to approval from the Singapore Land Authority) 
  • Private condos
  • Landed properties (subject to approval from the Singapore Land Authority)
Restrictions / income ceiling requirements
  • PRs cannot buy an HDB flat from the resale market immediately after getting PR status. A waiting period of three years for all the core applicants and essential occupiers to get the same PR status is required.
  • For ECs, the average gross monthly household income must not exceed $16,000.
  • There's no limit to the number of properties which can be purchased, but the buyers/owners must reside in a property with less than six stories
  • Private properties must not comprise all units within the same building (requires government approval)
  • No income ceiling requirements (unless approval from SLA is required, on a case-by-case basis)
  • 35 and above (married or unmarried or divorced)

  • 21 and above (widowed or orphan)

21 and above
EIP and SPR quota / Approval from HDB or SLAMay be required to meet the EIP and SPR quota for the block/neighbourhood when submitting a HDB or EC resale application.Do not require approval under the Residential Property Act to buy private condominium units, strata landed houses in approved condominium developments, or a leasehold estate in a landed residential property for a term not exceeding 7 years.
*Note that the restrictions and related information included the above that were acquired is accurate at the time of writing on 21 December 2023, as per the Housing and Development Board (HDB) of Singapore’s website and Singapore Land Authority’s (SLA) website, but are not limited to the above. Please refer to the HDB, SLA and CPF websites for the latest updates.

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Things To Consider When Buying Homes As An Expat In Singapore

In Singapore, the real estate market offers a diverse range of options, including high-rise condominiums and landed properties. Your choice should align with your lifestyle needs and financial plan, thus keep in mind the below aspects before buying a home in Singapore as an expat.

Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD)

Foreigners must pay a 30% ABSD on property purchases. This rate varies for Singapore PRs depending on the number of properties they already own. Although there's no limit on the number of private apartments or condos you can own, financing might be challenging for additional purchases due to ABSD.

Loan-to-Value (LTV) Limits

The amount that you as a foreigner can borrow from a bank (LTV limit) and the minimum cash down payment depend on the number of outstanding housing loans you may have. Obtaining a mortgage as a foreigner might require a higher down payment and/or stricter interest rates compared to Singapore citizens or PRs.

Purchase vs. rent

Buying a property could be a wise investment if you intend to reside in Singapore as a foreigner for an extended period. However, for shorter stays, renting might be a more cost-effective solution. 

Additionally, if you as a Singapore PR intend to rent out the whole HDB flat which you’ve bought, it will not be possible as only Singaporeans are allowed to do so, after they complete the five-year or ten-year MOP, depending on which type of HDB they bought and in which location.

Leasehold vs. freehold

The majority of properties in Singapore are on a leasehold basis, typically lasting 99 years. After the lease expires, ownership reverts to the state. In contrast, freehold properties, though rarer, provide longer-term ownership rights.

Maintenance costs for condominiums

Owning a condo in Singapore involves paying maintenance fees. These fees are for the upkeep of shared facilities like swimming pools, gyms, and communal gardens. You’ve got to make sure that you have a budget set aside for such fees.

Restrictions on renovations

When planning to renovate your property in Singapore, be aware of certain limitations. The level of approval needed depends on the scope of your project and major modifications such as structural changes or extensions demand formal approval from the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), while minor works like painting or changing fixtures typically require only a self-declaration.

Exit strategy and investment potential

If you're buying a property as an investment, you'll need to consider the potential for capital appreciation and rental income. The Singapore property market is relatively stable, but there is always some risk involved and also do think about what when you leave Singapore. You can sell it, rent it out, or give it to a family member. It's important to think about your exit strategy before you buy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What types of properties can expats buy in Singapore?

There are several types of properties that expats can buy in Singapore, depending on their expat status. For example, expats who convert to Singapore PR status may most likely to be able to buy the following properties if they fulfil the necessary eligibility requirements:

  • Resale HDB flats Resale ECs which have reached their Minimum Occupation Period (MOP) 
  • Private condos 
  • Strata-landed properties 
  • Landed properties (subject to approval from the Singapore Land Authority)


Expats who are non-Singapore PR and are foreigners can usually qualify to buy private condos and landed properties (subject to approval from the Singapore Land Authority).

Can Singapore PR expats use CPF savings to buy a HDB flat?

Yes, expats who converted to Singapore PRs may use your CPF savings to pay a certain percentage of the downpayment for their purchased resale HDB flat or other valid types of properties that are legally allowed to be paid off partially by CPF savings, but will be subject to approval by HDB. They must also meet the income ceiling requirements and other necessary eligibility criteria.

At which age can expats buy a HDB flat or EC in Singapore?

Depending on what type of property you’re getting as an expat who converted to Singapore PR or as a foreigner, the age requirements are 35 and above (married or unmarried or divorced) or 21 and above.