The Singapore Real Estate Investment Guide

Singapore real estate investment

Why Invest in Singapore? 

Although Singapore is a very small nation in Asia, it is an economic powerhouse with one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. Singapore is classified as Asia’s most modern city. The tiny island nation is a trade and transit hub and therefore attracts a lot of tourism, both leisure and business. The country’s ideal weather also enables tourism all year round. The country is home to ideal business opportunities, sightseeing, and great shopping. 

The country also possesses excellent infrastructure, with public transportation providing access to all major spots in the cities. Hence the people of Singapore don’t need to use a car for commuting and traveling. The Singapore Changi Airport is also awarded as the world’s best airport. The airport is a transit link of South-East Asia, providing air links to different countries across the globe, similar to Dubai. Moreover, Singapore also has a state-of-the-art cruise ship terminal and is one of the most popular destinations for cruise itineraries in the world.  

To summarize, Singapore is a tiny nation with an extremely powerful economy, great infrastructure, excellent business opportunities, ideal weather, and heaven for leisure and business tourists. Hence, Singapore is expected to thrive in the years to come and, therefore, an ideal destination to invest in Real Estate.  

Singapore Real Estate Investment Yield 

Just like any other investment, the goal of the real estate investment is obtaining economic gain. There are three types of residential real estate opportunities in Singapore: Condo, an HBD Flat, and a landed property. There are two ways to make money from real estate investment in Singapore: Capital Gain and Landed properties. 

  • Capital Gain

Singapore is an extremely lucrative market for real estate investment. Singapore real estate not only Singaporeans but also many foreign investors. Hence, you can always expect a rise in the sale price of your asset when you sell it after some time, thus a capital gain. 

  • Market Analysis 

Singapore’s real estate market is constantly exhibiting a rising trend. As of June 2021, the price index of houses increased by 2.21% in 2020, 2.67% in 2019, 7.85% in 2018, and 1.09% in 2017. The rising market trend is expected to grow on account of lower interest rates, foreign investors thronging for a Singapore Real Estate Investment, and reducing restrictions of Covid-19. The Graph below also reflects the residential property price index of Singapore. 

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Source: Trading Economics

  • No Capital Gains Tax

Yes, you did read that correctly.  Individuals who own real estate in Singapore are not subjected to capital gains tax but should also consult their lawyers.  Corporations that own real estate, however, do have to pay some tax but are generally lower than most other countries.  Again, please check with your tax accountant.

  • Landed Properties

Another source of making money from Singapore’s real estate investment is rental income. Simply put, the property can be rented out to some tenant for a certain rent. It is important to note that rental yield has to be considered while choosing the property to obtain an appropriate return on investment. 

  • Rental Yield

Two types of rental yield are calculated, Gross Rental Yield and Net Rental Yield. 

Gross Rental yield is calculated as a percentage of total yearly rent from the property compared to the price of the property, hence the percentage of return on investment. 

Net rental yield is calculated as a percentage of Total rent minus the expenses incurred during the rent period compared with the price of the property. Generally, the Rental yield should be higher than the financing cost for a landed property to be profitable for the landlord. 

Factors to Consider for Investing in Singapore Real Estate

There are a few factors to be considered during investing in Singapore Real Estate. 

  • Location, Location, Location

The location of a property is perhaps the most important factor for any real estate investment across the globe. The Properties near schools, libraries, markets, and other local amenities are usually highly valued. Infrastructure also plays a major role in determining the value of a property. Generally, a property in the vicinity of the above-mentioned facilities will have greater price appreciation and rental yield. Another rule is to look for any such amenities and infrastructure that are not present but are planned in the future. For example, a new MRT station planned within walking distance of the property will give a huge boost to the property value in the future.

  • Availability of Financing for Foreigners

The availability of financing strongly affects the value of a property. Currently, Singapore is offering very low interest rates. Hence, the demand for houses and other properties is very high. In case the government’s policy rate and consequently the interest rate decreases, buyers will be discouraged to look for real estate investment.

Because of Singapore’s international standing as a major financial in the world, Foreigners will find many financing options when buying Singapore properties.

  • Leasehold properties 

There are two types of residential property available in Singapore, Condo and HBD Flats (Leasehold). Usually, the leasehold period is of 99 years in Singapore. The properties reaching the end of their lease period tend to lose their value. The leasehold properties are generally cheaper than freehold (condos) land, which tends to hold their value over time.

  • Conditions of the Property 

The condition the property is in strongly governs its value and consequently its sale price. Especially the old buildings require maintenance and repair costs. Hence, the property will bear a lower sale price. On the other hand, a renovated property can fetch a high value from the market. An old building requiring repairs often may also reduce the net rental yield of landed property.

  • Government Regulations 

The Singapore real estate market is so lucrative that the government of Singapore had to impose restrictions on local and foreign nationals to limit by implementing ‘cooling measures ‘on the sale of houses and consequently controlling the rising prices of the real estate. During an investment decision, one must be aware of the following regulations.

  • Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD)

This is the Stamp Duty you must pay regardless of whether you are a foreigner or a Singaporean.

  • Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD)

This applies to owners of existing property looking to buy another in Singapore. This rate applies to foreigners looking to buy their first property as well.

Residence

Buyer

BSD Rate

ABSD Rate

Citizen

First Residential Property

1% On First $180,000

2% On Next $180,000

3% On Next $640,000

4% On Remaining Amount

0%

Second Residential Property

12%

Third Residential Property

15%

Permanent Resident/Foreigner

First Residential Property

5%

Second Residential Property

20%

Third Residential Property

25%

  • Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD)

This additional cost is applicable to investors selling a property with 3 or 4 years of holding period. 

Date of Purchase or Date of Change of Zoning / Use

Holding Period

SSD Rate (on the actual price or market value, whichever is higher)

Between 20 Feb 2010 and 29 Aug 2010 (all inclusive)

Up to 1 year

1% on first $180,000

 2% on next $180,000

 3% on remainder

More than 1 year

No SSD payable

Between 30 Aug 2010 and 13 Jan 2011 (all inclusive)

Up to 1 year

1% on first $180,000

 2% on next $180,000

 3% on remainder

More than 1 year and up to 2 years

0.67% on first $180,000

 1.33% on next $180,000

 2% on remainder

More than 2 years and up to 3 years

0.33% on first $180,000

 0.67% on next $180,000

 1% on remainder

More than 3 years

No SSD payable

Between 14 Jan 2011 and 10 Mar 2017 (all-inclusive)

Up to 1 year

16%

More than 1 year and up to 2 years

12%

More than 2 years and up to 3 years

8%

More than 3 years and up to 4 years

4%

More than 4 years

No SSD payable

On and after 11 Mar 2017

Up to 1 year

12%

More than 1 year and up to 2 years

8%

More than 2 years and up to 3 years

4%

More than 3 years

No SSD payable

  • Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) 

Another measure implemented by the government is a total debt service ratio of 60%. This means that a person’s credit card and other loan payments like mortgages cannot exceed 60% of their total income. 

  • Loan to value ratio (LTV)

The LTV ratio, like the TDSR, limits the amount of money you can borrow from a bank to finance your property purchase.

Unlike ABSD, which is based on the number of properties you own, the LTV ratio is based on the number of outstanding mortgages you’re responsible for. You can borrow less from a bank if you have a lot of house loans to service.

  • Property Taxes

Like the majority of governments across the world, the Singaporean government has also imposed property taxes. The difference arises where the rate of tax is higher on landed properties than owner-occupied. 

Possible Pitfalls of Investing in Singapore Real Estate

As mentioned earlier, the Singapore real estate market is an extremely lucrative one. However, there are some pitfalls attached to the investments. 

  • Managing Tenants 

Sometimes managing your tenants can be troublesome. The tenant may cause harm to the property, which may later translate into repair expenses. The tenants also sometimes sublet the property without authorization. Hence, managing your tenant and finding the right tenant is crucial in the real estate investment. 

  • Maintenance Expenses 

Properties incur frequent repair and maintenance expenses. These expenses include repair of pipes and other leakages, replacement of furniture, and painting the house, etc. These expenses may also occur when one tenant leaves and the homeowner want to make the property more attractive through renovation.  

  • Rent Free Period 

There are periods when the property is vacant (without a tenant), so there is no rental income. However, the mortgage payments on the property will still be applicable. This may burden the finances of a homeowner for a short period of time. Moreover, finding a new tenant might be a little challenging and will cost the realtor commission.    

Conclusion 

Although a real estate investment in Singapore is very attractive, finding the right property for you is highly challenging. Various factors have to be considered, like location, rental yields, state of the property, and neighborhood.

Finding the right property can be a challenge and may require some skill in navigating these waters.  Be careful when you try to work above the marketing noise and choose a good agent, banker, and project that could possibly help you grow your wealth in Singapore.  

Let us if we can you with picking your Real Estate.  We’d love to help!

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