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Singapore - Buying a House

Finding and apartment or house
Properties for rent are listed in the classified section of The Straits Times newspaper. The largest number of listings is in the Saturday edition. However it would be easier to work with a real estate agent (see Real Estate Agent Vendors). They are happy to show you as many properties as you want to see. If you don’t like the service or kind of properties that you are being shown then complain or change to another agent. You will not be charged by the real estate agent. They take their fee from property owners. 

Some points to be aware of when looking at an apartment or house
Properties viewed are often as the last tenant left them. The landlord will organize to repaint after you have agreed to lease it. At this stage you can ask for changes to be made to curtains/blinds etc.
Check walls for signs of mould or water seepage.
Apartments are usually advertised as having 3x1 or 4x1 rooms. This means that there are three or four bedrooms plus an extra room for a maid. Women from Indonesia or the Philippines are commonly employed as live-in domestic help.

Signing the lease
It is common for the lease to be in your company’s name. Leases are usually for one or two years. A ‘diplomats’ clause is often included in the lease agreement- no penalty if you have to leave Singapore before the lease ends.
Check who is responsible for air-conditioning maintenance. If your landlord will not be maintaining the air-conditioners then you will need to organize a maintenance contract yourself. Also check who pays for any repairs to appliances etc. For houses, check on who pays for garden maintenance. Often there is a system in place for the garden to be maintained by an outside company.
Walk through property before signing the lease to check everything is in order.

Buying property
Housing loans are available to expatriates at most local and foreign banks. Compare interest rates and other conditions. One condition to look out for is a prepayment penalty- some banks allow you to you pay off your loan earlier but other banks may have a financial penalty if you do this.

Non-Singaporeans are restricted to the type of properties that they can buy. In the past newly built condominiums were the easiest type of property to purchase, but since mid-2005 the restriction of apartment block needing to be higher than six storeys and classified as a condominium is no longer applicable.

Following  this regulation change foreigners can buy apartments (referred to as strata-titled properties) in all buildings without needing approval from the Singapore Authorities.

Special permission is still needed by Singapore Land Authority (SLA)  to purchase ‘Landed’ property (see section Housing typology) such as houses, bungalows and vacant plots of land by any person who is not a Singapore citizen, Singapore Company, Singapore limited liability partnership or a Singapore society.

For more information (or to download a form to seek approval) see the SLA website

Banks will usually lend up to 80% of the value of the property and less if the property is for investment.

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