Buying Landed Property in Singapore

Buying Landed Property in Singapore: A Complete Guide (2022)

It’s common to eye buying landed property in Singapore. Aside from being a status symbol, it entails procuring a dream house and a safe space for you and your family only.

As with any major life milestone, it is a big decision. Like investing, you can’t miss even one small thing before placing a chunk of money into the bet. Investing in a landed property requires familiarizing yourself with Singapore’s landed property market, the pros and cons of buying landed property, what to know, and how to finance a landed property transaction. Read on to know more! 

 

The landed property market in Singapore

Landed property is a single-to-three-story dwelling sitting on a piece of land. What distinguishes it from a multi-story building is that in addition to the structures built thereon, you own the land.

3 government agencies regulate landed properties in Singapore: the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), the Singapore Department of Statistics (DOS or SingStat), and the Urban and Redevelopment Authority (URA). They regulate all matters related to landed property activities.

Singapore’s landed property market has 6 types of landed properties:

  • Good Class Bungalow (GCB): GCBs are Singapore’s most expensive landed property. They include recreational and entertainment facilities like swimming pools, gyms, and playgrounds. They span at least 1,400 square meters.
  • Detached House: Detached houses have smaller plots of land and sizes. However, their structures are independent of other houses or buildings. In this light, they are similar to GCBs, but unlike the latter, they may differ as to land and structure sizes, as well as the available facilities that may be present only in GCBs. 
  • Semi-detached Houses: Semi-detached houses are smaller in size, both as to the land and the houses built thereon. Compared to detached houses, semi-detached houses are normally half the size of a detached house and have common walls with neighbors. Even a corner detached house has a boundary wall behind it.
  • Terrace Houses: Smaller than semi-detached houses, typical terrace houses have a minimum of 150 square meters. The URA requires a minimum of 3 units to form a row of terrace houses or townhouses. On this note, terrace houses tend to also share a common wall with neighbors – with middle terrace houses having two common walls. Terrace houses may also have lighting and ventilation problems due to their small sizes.
  • Shophouses: The houses have existed since early times. Shophouses normally entail using the ground floor to do business and the upper floors for living. It is a traditional style for early Singaporeans.
  • Cluster Houses: Cluster houses are landed properties with multi-strata titles. They share common recreational facilities like swimming pools, gyms, and club activities, and have a housing concept that can expand a site coverage of up to 50% in GCB areas and 40% in others.

Where landed properties are located

The Singapore government categorizes 4 areas for 8 types of GCBs, detached houses, semi-detached houses, and terrace houses. The clubhouses are not for development purposes, and the cluster housing projects are a modern housing management concept for landed properties.

The 4 landed housing property areas are: (1) GCB (for Bungalows and Good Class Bungalows); (2) bungalow areas; (3) semi-detached housing areas; and (4) mixed-landed housing areas (including terrace houses and semi-detached houses). All of these 4 areas can house bungalows.

Summary of Details

The table below shows more landed property details permitted by the Government.

Area / Property types GCB/Detached houses/Bungalows Semi-detached houses Terrace houses Height allowed
GCB Yes No No 2 levels maximum
Detached houses Yes No No 3 levels
Semi-detached houses Yes Yes No 3 levels
Mixed landed areas Yes Yes Yes 3 levels

 

The most expensive landed property areas are in districts of 9, 10, 11, and 21, while other popular areas include 15 and 16.

 

Couple Buying House

Pros and Cons of buying landed property in Singapore

Pros

  • Personal space: Landed property provides more space than condominiums, including all-around airspace. You may look straight up at the sky to see the shining lights from the sun in your sunglasses or the stars at night at your house. You can hold picnics or parties in your garden without a reservation. Moreover, fresh air is much more abundant from the comforts of your home.
  • Privacy: Privacy has become a lot more valuable living in a crowded place like Singapore. By living in a landed property, you enjoy greater privacy and are more let alone than in a multi-story building or a shared space. 
  • Creative control: Unlike pre-made condominium complexes and other communal living spaces, you can freely design your home – subject of course to the minimum restrictions provided under the law. Notwithstanding this, the Government has fewer restrictions on landed houses, like a bungalow or a detached house, than for an apartment or a condominium. 

Cons

  • Security: Landed houses are in an open living system compared to a multi-story apartment or condominium, which are within a closed management system. Living in a landed house may entail adding security systems and ther preventive measures.
  • Cleaning and maintenance: In contrast to condo residents sharing the maintenance costs, landed house dwellers shoulder a large part of, if not full responsibility for, cleaning and maintenance expenditures.
  • Legal fees: Unlike a condominium owner, a landed property owner bears full legal costs related to the land and the house built on it, like land rate and land lease cost.
  • Social activities: House residents may have fewer social activities than condo ones due to their secluded environments. Furthermore, the people living in the landed property are lower in number, leading to communications and isolation issues.
  • Recreational and entertaining facilities: Except for good class bungalows or luxurious detached houses, most landed houses like terrace houses, or semi-detached houses have little to no amenities available. Thus, residents may resort to facilities outside for entertainment and recreation.

 

House Model

Considerations in purchasing a landed house in Singapore

1. Eligibility

A buyer should be one of the following to be a ready buyer:

  • A Singapore citizen;
  • A Singapore corporation;
  • A Singapore Limited Liability Partnership;
  • A Singapore community or organization.

People who aren’t one of the above should seek the Singapore Land Authority’s approval prior to buying landed properties. The Government also would consider requests on an individual basis. In evaluating eligibility, residency considerations, like being a Singapore Permanent Resident for at least 5 years, as well as economic contributions – like having made exceptional economic contributions to Singapore over the past 5 years and the employment income assessable for tax purposes – may be considered.

2. Locations

“Property is all about location, location, and location,” as the popular property investment adage goes. This saying is ubiquitous for a reason – location matters, A LOT.  The houses in the core central region and the rest of the central region are valuable and higher costing in Singapore, being the heart of finance, economy, and trade activities. The properties outside the central region cost less. Location can impact your acquisition costs significantly, so before buying landed property, you should do your due diligence and evaluation. For more information about the region definitions, you can consult the Singapore Land Authority.

3. Costs

Buying property is an essential investment for most people. You should plan in detail before spending the first dollar. Costs include:

  • Landed residential property prices in Singapore (prices change subject to market):
    • Good Class Bungalow(GCB): about S$110million;
    • Detached landed house(typical bungalows):  about S$3.8million to S$23million;
    • Semi-detached house: about S$3.3million to S$13million;
    • Terrace house: about S$1.8million to S$6.8million.
  • Downpayment and option fees: You may have to pay up to 25% downpayment and a 5% option fee for a private property if you decide to purchase it. The option fee is the first expense you pay to a seller for a gesture you will buy a house. 
  • Legal fees: Lawyers’ work is necessary to ensure compliance with laws and regulations. A lawyer should check the remaining lease of the land a buyer purchases. The legal fees vary depending on the types of landed property. The following prices are for reference only:
    • New landed property sale: S$2,300 to S$2,800;
    • Landed property under construction(BUC): S$2,500 TO S$3,200;
    • Landed property resale: S$2,800 to S$3,000
  • Stamp duties: The Singapore government adopts measures to cool down the property market and increases additional buyer’s stamp duty (ABSD) from 12% to 17% for the second home and from 15% to 25% for the third or subsequently. These measures apply to Singapore citizens only. Foreign nationals are subject to more stringent fees. The stamp duties for the first home are as follows:
    • 1% for the first S$180,000;
    • 2% for the next S$180,000;
    • 3% for the next S$640,000;
    • 4% for the amount after S$640,000
  • Home insurance: If you borrow to buy landed property from a bank, you must pay for an insurance policy against loss caused by natural disasters, e.g., fire, tsunami, earthquake, and even crimes. The compulsory insurance content depends on an individual bank’s requirements. It is a mandatory cost you should get ready for.
  • Renovation cost: If you’re buying a property that you’re planning to redesign or improve, you may need to add renovation costs. A renovation loan may help in financing this expense, too. A typical renovation loan is S$30,000 with a 3 to 5 years repayment period. Unfortunately, the loan may not cover the costs if your house is large. You may ask for a top-up in addition to your mortgage loan. The benefit is that you may have a more extended repayment period, but you may have to pay more interest. Find out the best renovation loans in Singapore.
  • Regular utility and maintenance bills: Everything has its costs. It is common to pay more when your new house is larger than your previous one. The rates you may pay at the month-end include electricity, water, and annual property tax. Moreover, you should get ready for bills like repair and maintenance works on interior and exterior structures.

 

Financing your landed house

Like other home financings, you have options to finance your landed house:

  • Bank loan: It is the typical way to use the loan to purchase a home. You should compare loan packages to get a deal appropriate to your financial situation. Most banks offer 2 types of loans: (1) a fixed loan guaranteeing a fixed period of 3 to 5 years and subsequently floating the rate regarding the market; or (2) a floating loan regarding a bank-set rate or interbank borrowing rates plus a premium. Banks also offer up to 75% loan to value, referring to the lower of the purchase price or the market value with a financing period of up to 25 years.
  • CPF financing: You can use your CPF savings to buy a house. The maximum financing amount offered is the lower of the purchase price or the market value and up to 20% of the home price.

 

Final thoughts

Buying landed property in Singapore involves complex deliberations. You should follow the steps mentioned above before making any purchase decisions.

Here are the 4 takeaways:

  • The property location has a significant impact on the price.
  • You should understand the pros and cons of buying a landed property.
  • You will benefit from a careful analysis of the financing options available to you.
  • You should plan for the expenses that come after you purchase your property.

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