What You Need to Know About Cross-Nationalities Property Purchase in Singapore
Singapore is a global nexus. East and West come together on our sunny island for work, for play and some inevitably stay. With almost 30% of the population made up of non-citizens, it seems that quite a lot do come here.
As social creatures, emotional beings, it is the heart that drives the physical and psychological machine that makes us human. However, the simple, yet powerful impetus to sink roots isn’t powerful enough to thwart government policy so it helps to know where one can find an abode to live out their happily-ever-after on the island.
Since 1973, non-residents intending to purchase property in Singapore have been made subject to the Residential Properties Act. This curtailed foreign ownership of private properties. Special permission has to be sought to buy private property except for low-rise non-condominium properties.
Public Housing such as new and resale HDB flats, HDB shophouses and Executive Condominium (EC) are reserved only for residents and can only be purchased by a foreigner jointly with a Singapore citizen or Permanent Resident in the context of matrimony.
Eligibility criteria for HDB ownership have been divided into different schemes that cater to different groups of people. The Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme applies to Singapore citizens that have married or intend to enter into matrimony with a foreigner.
There are several criteria for such couples to apply for an HDB resale flat: the non-citizen spouse must hold a Long Term Visit Pass or Work Pass if the Singaporean partner is between 21 and 34 years old; the non-citizen spouse must hold a Visit Pass or Work Pass if the Singaporean partner is 35 years old or above; both must be married to each other.
Applicants under the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme are precluded from purchasing new or BTO flats. New flats and executive condominiums (ECs) are only available to Singapore Residents or Singapore Permanent Residents (PR), save for a single exception – if the applicant is above 35 and wishes to purchase a 2-room flat in a new estate.
Other factors to consider are the Ethnic Integration Policy (EIP) and Singapore Resident (SPR) Quotas. These predetermine the racial and citizenship status demographic within blocks of flats. If the category for which one belongs to is filled up, the applicant would have to apply to live in another block of flats.
Subsidies and grants
Subsidies and grants by the government, though less than that given to couples where both are citizens, are still available. There are currently four types that one can consider.
The Citizen Top-Up subsidy is a S$10,000 housing subsidy open to Singaporean Citizens or Permanent Residents that have taken a CPF Housing Grant for Family of S$20,000 or purchased a resale HDB, or Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS) flat.
The Singles Grant can be applied for by the Singaporean spouse and further defrays the purchase by S$15,000. The Proximity Housing Grant was introduced to help families buy a resale flat that is in the same block or close to their parents. As long as one of the listed owners is a citizen, he or she may enjoy this subsidy of S$20,000.
The fourth option is the Additional Housing Grant (AHG) for singles. This grant, meant for first-time HDB applicants is a massive incentive and, depending on household income, can be as much as S$40,000.
With the government’s focus on lifting the abysmally low total fertility rate in Singapore, family friendly policies have been put in place to take into account the growing pace of globalisation. Almost all areas of businesses have been globalised.
Even Singapore itself is a success story of globalisation; it was only a matter of time that the global phenomenon made its way into family life.