Singapore Property FAQ

Singapore Property FAQ

 

Over the years, I have received many commonly repeated questions related to Singapore properties or the real estate market in Singapore from visitors to this website and clients that I meet in person.

 

I have compiled my inputs to the most frequently asked questions that I have received over the years below.

 

The questions have been divided based on categories.

 

1. Questions pertaining to Singapore property agents

 

1.1 How to engage property agents in Singapore?

 

1.2 Who can a Singapore property agent represent?

 

1.3 Why is a residential property agent required?

 

1.4 Why is it so difficult to get a place to rent without getting an agent involved in Singapore?

 

1.5 Is engaging a property agent for home search really useful?

 

1.6 What are the qualities you should look for while hiring a real estate agent?

 

1.7 How can I be a property agent?

 

2. Questions pertaining to Singapore property market & regulations

 

2.1 What is the present scenario of the property market in Singapore?

 

2.2 How to get a property loan in Singapore?

 

2.3 Can a Malaysian buy a property in Singapore?

 

2.4 Can foreigners buy a property in Singapore for example a condo or an HDB?

 

3. Questions pertaining to Singapore properties

 

3.1 How does one choose a good property in Singapore?

 

3.2 How to rent a condo in Singapore?

 

3.3 What is landed vs non landed property in Singapore? Why is it called this?

 

3.4 What are the costs of owning landed property in Singapore?

 

3.5 Should I buy or rent an apartment in Singapore?

 

3.6 How to know my property value?

 

3.7 What is asset progression? What is real estate wealth planning?

1.1) How to engage property agents in Singapore?

 

This is fairly straightforward actually.

 

Firstly, check the CEA’s salesperson registry to make sure the property agent you are thinking of engaging is licensed and registered. It is best to check for the property agent’s CEA registration number in the registry.

 

Once you have done that, get in touch with the property agent you would like to engage to help you.

 

Discuss the scope and terms of work and sign the agreement which is a standard government document commonly referred to as the CEA forms within the real estate industry.

 

There are different agreements available depending on whether you are a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant.

 

By the way, my CEA registration number is R012421H.

 

The real estate agency that I am with is PropNex Realty Pte Ltd and their CEA licence number is L3008022J.

 

Note:

 

CEA (Council For Estate Agencies) is the government agency that governs the real estate industry in Singapore.

1.2) Who can a Singapore property agent represent?

 

Typically, a Singapore property agent can represent the buyer or the seller in a sale transaction.

 

In a rental transaction, this property agent can represent the landlord or the tenant.

 

Please take note that dual representation is strictly not allowed and is against the law.

 

Dual representation means representing both differing parties in the transaction or collecting commission fee from both parties.

 

The Singapore property agent can also represent and act for both Singapore citizens and foreigners.

1.3) Why is a residential property agent required?

 

To start off with, I would like to state that it is perfectly legal and acceptable if a person decides to DIY and not engage a residential property agent to assist or represent him in the transaction of Singapore residential properties.

 

It is certainly not compulsory.

 

However, there are associated benefits and advantages when you engage a residential property agent to help you transact a Singapore residential property.

 

Be it a rental transaction or sales and purchase transaction.

 

An active property agent (be sure to check that this property agent is licensed with the CEA) is always on the ground talking to fellow property agents, developers, bankers, lawyers, renovation contractors, interior designers, architects, property valuers and both local and international customers (landlords, tenants, buyers, sellers) of varied demographic profiles.

 

Their work also involves visiting countless properties and assessing the value of these properties from either a sale or rental angle.

 

They are also required to understand government regulations and policies and how they affect the property market in Singapore.

 

A qualified and experienced property agent also has the technical know-how to plan and execute a real estate transaction from start to end.

 

Will an average consumer who will likely conduct a real estate transaction only 2 to 4 times in his/her own lifetime benefit from engaging an experienced and qualified property agent to assist in a real estate transaction?

 

    • Precious time savings.
    • Understanding the market correctly and taking the correct actions.
    • Learning the pitfalls to avoid.
    • Assisted price and terms negotiation.
    • Access to in-depth market research.
    • Stress relief.
    • Leveraging on a professional network and outreach.

 

The benefits are plentiful.

 

Note:

 

On the CEA website, the professional term for “property agent” is “real estate salesperson”.

 

But on the ground, consumers and agents alike more commonly use the term “property agent” or “real estate agent”.

1.4) Why is it so difficult to get a place to rent without getting an agent involved in Singapore?

 

Probably more than 90% of the rental properties out there are marketed by a property agent who is representing the landlord.

 

The landlord’s property agent assists with the marketing of these rental properties, the negotiation and the necessary contractual paperwork.

 

A lot of these landlords are busy people who run their own business or are holding on to a day job.

 

It makes perfect economic sense and productive use of the landlords’ time to entrust their rental properties to an experienced and competent property agent.

 

And in many cases, most landlords in Singapore will not show up at all during the period of lease because they prefer to be anonymous and let their property agent handle matters related to the tenancy.

 

Renting out their property is effectively a business to them and they do things that make business sense.

 

A tenant who only wants to deal directly with a landlord is just limiting his/her own options.

1.5) Is engaging a property agent for home search really useful?

 

For sure. That is if you engage an experienced and competent property agent to help you in the home search process.

 

Once the property agent understands your needs and requirements, he can really cut short your searching time and make sure your time is used productively by narrowing down to those properties that will likely best meet the criteria.

 

This makes sure that you do not waste time looking at properties that do not meet your needs.

 

By seeing these suitable properties first, you will also be able to decide earlier if you want to purchase before another buyer does.

 

Imagine you wasting your time looking at unsuitable properties while the right ones get sold.

 

By working with an experienced property agent, you will also be able to get invaluable insights which you otherwise may not be able to glean from the listing agent (the property agent who represents the seller).

 

So yeah. It is really useful. Especially for first-time property buyers in Singapore.

 

1.6) What are the qualities you should look for while hiring a real estate agent?

 

Obviously you will want to work with a real estate who has demonstrated competency in the domain that you are interested to engage him/her for.

 

That would be the basic.

 

You may ask how to determine if this real estate agent has competency in a particular domain?

 

You can start by calling this real estate agent to ask some questions related to that domain of work.

 

And then follow that up with a face to face meetup.

 

The meetup is absolutely critical in order for you to assess your comfort level with this real estate agent.

 

You need to feel that you can trust this real estate agent to help you achieve your real estate goals.

 

To me, this trust factor is probably the most important factor.

 

If you feel suspicious about this real estate agent, he/she is probably not the right one for you.

1.7) How can I be a property agent?

 

Only Singaporeans or Singapore permanent residents can become a property agent.

 

Anyone interested to become a property agent will have to take the RES course and pass the RES exam administered by CEA first.

 

After passing the RES exam, the aspiring property agent can then register with a property agency in Singapore and begin practising.

 

There are a number of RES course providers out there. One such course provider is Life Mastery Academy.

2.1) What is the present scenario of the property market in Singapore?

 

The property market in Singapore is dynamic and influenced by different factors at different points in time.

 

Factors such as cooling measures, loan to value, population, government policies etc could differ from time to time.

 

So it would not be appropriate to answer this question on a FAQ page.

 

To find out the present scenario of the property market in Singapore, it is best to schedule a 100% no obligation chit chat session with me so that I can share what is happening in the market right now and the things to look out for.

 

Nothing beats a face to face meet-up.

 

We can do this at a cafe, your place or any other place of your choice 🙂

2.2) How to get a property loan in Singapore?

 

There are essentially two types of residential property loans here in Singapore.

 

The first type is for completed properties while the second type is for uncompleted properties.

 

Uncompleted properties are also commonly referred to as building under construction.

 

I have access to mortgage bankers from all the banks in Singapore that have got a mortgage arm.

 

If you are looking for a property loan, I can help by putting you in contact with your preferred bank.

 

But first, you may want to visit the two following mortgage resources available on this website.

 

2.3) Can a Malaysian buy a property in Singapore?

 

Any foreign national (Malaysians included) is allowed to buy a PRIVATE PROPERTY in Singapore.

 

Specifically private condominiums only.

 

Foreigners are not allowed to buy public housing (HDBs) or landed properties.

 

However, there are 2 scenarios to be aware of:

 

      • In the case of landed properties, Singapore permanent residents who have made significant contributions to the Singapore economy may apply to the Land Dealings Unit for special approval to buy a landed property.

     

    • Married couples who are both Singapore permanent residents may apply to buy a resale HDB flat after a certain number of years.

 

And as a foreigner, do be clear about the amount of additional buyer stamp duty that you need to pay when buying residential properties in Singapore.

 

Do note that government policies governing the above may change suddenly and the answer above may not always reflect the latest situation.

 

Please take steps to verify with the relevant government bodies.

 

The current property must know page details the active government measures affecting residential properties in Singapore.

2.4) Can foreigners buy a property in Singapore for example a condo or an HDB?

 

Please see point 2.3 above.

3.1) How does one choose a good property in Singapore?

 

An evergreen comment that I get from buyers is, “Let me know if you have something good.”.

 

Everyone wants to buy a good property.

 

But what really constitutes a good property?

 

And this is my take.

 

Whether a property is considered good or not so good really depends on how well this property meets the specific needs and requirements of the buyer.

 

Everyone has differing needs and requirements.

 

Their financial position and holding time frame can also be vastly different.

 

And without knowing a buyer’s exact situation, needs and requirements, I will not be able to know if a particular property is good for them.

 

What is good for Buyer A may not be so good for Buyer B.

 

Then there is also the question of the objective of the purchase.

 

Different criteria is used for different objectives.

 

The best way to approach this is to start by taking time to sit down with the property agent you are engaging for a detailed information gathering session.

 

Once that has been done, your property agent should be able to explain and share what criteria you should be using to choose a good property in Singapore that will meet your needs and requirements.

3.2) How to rent a condo in Singapore?

 

After you have viewed a number of rental properties and identified the particular one that you are interested in, you will typically go through the following series of steps.

 

a) Submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) through your property agent.

 

The LOI states your personal particulars, rental offer, period of lease and any requirements that you may have.

 

A good faith deposit equivalent to one month’s worth of rental will be presented to the landlord together with the signed LOI.

 

b) If the landlord rejects the offer, the good faith deposit will be returned to the tenant. The tenant can either make a new offer or look for another rental property.

 

c) If the landlord accepts the offer, we will then proceed to discuss and firm up the terms in the tenancy agreement.

 

d) Once the terms of the tenancy agreement are agreed upon, both parties will sign the tenancy agreement.

 

e) The security deposit (usually one or two months depending on the period of lease) is to be paid by the tenant to the landlord at the point of signing.

 

f) The good faith deposit paid together with the LOI will then become the advance rental payment for the first month of the tenancy.

 

g) The tenant will then also pay for the stamp fees and the commission that is due the property agent that has been helping him/her.

 

Please note that the LOI is optional. It is possible to jump directly to the stage where you discuss the terms and conditions in the tenancy agreement.

3.3) What is landed vs non-landed property in Singapore? Why is it called this?

 

Private condominiums, apartments and HDB flats (public housing) are all considered non-landed property because they are not built in an acceptable landed housing form.

 

The accepted form of landed property (landed housing) includes,

 

    • inter-terrace houses
    • corner-terrace houses
    • semi-detached houses
    • detached, bungalow or good class bungalow houses

 

A landed property also grants its owner the right to tear down the existing structure and build a new structure to his/her liking subject to building rules set by the authorities.

3.4) What are the costs of owning a landed property in Singapore?

 

From a cost perspective, the main difference between owning a landed property and a condominium is that the landed owner has to pay for every repair, maintenance or enhancement work within the land that the property sits on.

 

This could include expenses related to the following that you will not expect to pay for a condominium,

 

    • maintenance of the garden
    • pest control
    • auto gate maintenance
    • pool maintenance
    • cabling work
    • any maintenance/repair associated with the house including the roof, facade etc

3.5) Should I buy or rent an apartment in Singapore?

 

This is a bit like point 3.1 where I talked about what constitutes a good property in Singapore.

 

Whether to buy or rent really depends on your unique situation.

 

When it comes to buying, the key consideration is the finances involved.

 

The financial consideration would include,

 

    • buying taxes
    • downpayment required
    • mortgage loan eligibility

 

As for renting, do remember that tenants who are paying rent are effectively helping the landlords to pay for their mortgage payments every month.

 

But at the end of the day, when the landlords sell their properties, the tenants do not get a single share of the sale proceeds.

 

If you are still unsure, let’s have a chat and see what is the more appropriate option for you.

Landlords grow rich in their sleep

By John Stuart Mill

3.6) How to know my property value?

 

You can gain some insights into how a property’s value is determined by checking out this blog post where I talked about how I assess a property’s value.

3.7) What is asset progression? What is real estate wealth planning?

 

The term “Asset progression” in the real estate industry essentially refers to improving & utilizing Singapore real estate assets to grow one’s wealth.

 

“Real estate wealth planning” refers to the same thing.

 

Visit this property asset progression guide to find out more.

Any other questions?

 

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any other questions related to Singapore properties.

 

If it is something within my knowledge, I will be more than happy to share what I know with you.

Chat with Jack