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Jun 21, 2016

Roundtrip buying costs in Singapore can reach 37.45%


How high are realtors’ and lawyers’ fees in Singapore? What about other property purchase costs?

Transaction Costs

Who Pays?
Buyer Stamp Duty (BSD) 1% - 3% buyer
Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) 5% - 15% buyer
Seller Stamp Duty 4% to 16% seller
Registration Fee SGD70 (US$52) buyer
Legal Fee 0.30%
0.15%
buyer
seller
Real Estate Agent’s Fee 1%
2%
buyer
seller
Costs paid by buyer 7.30% - 16.30%
Costs paid by seller 6.15% - 18.15%
ROUNDTRIP TRANSACTION COSTS 13.45% - 34.45%
See Footnotes
Source: Global Property Guide

Process of buying property

Since July 19, 2005, under the Residential Property Act, foreigners can now buy apartments in buildings of less than six stories without prior government approval. However, foreigners still cannot purchase vacant land and landed properties without permission from the Singapore Land Authority. Non-residential property is not subject to these ownership restrictions.

Aside from these restrictions, foreigners can buy condominiums freely. There are few foreign exchange restrictions, and non-residents can now borrow up to 80% of the property cost locally, in Singapore Dollars.

When a price has been agreed, it is normal to obtain the ‘Option to Purchase’, giving the buyer sole right to the property for a limited period, usually two weeks, for an option fee, usually 1% of the purchase price. The terms of the option will become the terms of a binding contract, so a lawyer’s advice is advisable.

To confirm intention to buy, another sum, usually 9% of the purchase price, on top of the option fee, must be paid to the seller within the time period stated in the option. The payment is forwarded to the seller together with the signed option. Contracts for sale generally follow the standard terms embodied in The Law Society´s Conditions of Sale 1994.

The lawyer will:

  1. Draw up the option;
  2. do a title search to confirm details of the property and its ownership;
  3. check that the owner is not a bankrupt;
  4. check with the relevant government authorities to ensure that the property is not affected by any government notices or projects, e.g. road widening, construction of MRT lines, etc;
  5. prepare the documents transferring title of the property;
  6. prepare an account and advise on the amount which needs to be paid to complete the purchase.

On the completion date, the lawyer will arrange for the payment, in exchange for documents transferring the title.

It takes around six days to complete the four procedures to register a property.




Footnotes to Transaction Costs Table

The round trip transaction costs include all costs of buying and then re-selling a property – lawyers’ fees, notaries’ fees, registration fees, taxes, agents’ fees, etc.

Buyer Stamp Duty (BSD)
The buyer pays stamp duty at 1% to 3% on transfers of residential properties. The applicable stamp duty rate varies, depending on the property value.

BUYER STAMP DUTY

PROPERTY VALUE, SGD (US$) RATE
Up to 180,000 (US$133,333) 1%
180,000 – 360,000 (US$266,667) 2%
Over 360,000 (US$266,667) 3%

Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD)
The buyer may pay additional stamp duty of 5% to 15%, in certain property transactions. The additional buyer stamp duty (ABSD) rate varies depending on the citizenship of the buyer, and other factors.

ADDITIONAL BUYER STAMP DUTY (ABSD)

BUYER PROFILE RATE
Foreign person 16%
Singapore Permanent Resident
-1st property 5%
-2nd and subsequent property 10%

Singapore Citizen

-1st property 0%
-2nd property 7%
-3rd and subsequent property 10%

Seller Stamp Duty (SSD)
The seller pays stamp duty of 4% to 16% on transfers of residential properties acquired after 14 January 2011, and disposed within four years of acquisition. The applicable stamp duty rate varies, depending on the holding period of the property.

SELLER STAMP DUTY

HOLDING PERIOD OF PROPERTY RATE
Up to 1 year 16%
1 year – 2 years 12%
2 years – 3 years 8%
3 years – 4 years 4%

Legal Fees:
Following the abolition of scale fees in February 1, 2003, fees are now negotiable. The Council of Law Society sets fee guidelines for conveyancing transactions to meet the "fair and reasonable" criteria of the law.

For non-CPF Conveyancing Transactions:

Seller: 0.15% of sale price for transactions not exceeding SGD2 million (US$1,481,481), subject to a minimum fee of SGD900 (US$667), for the case where the sale price/sale consideration does not exceed SGD2 million (US$1,481,481).

Buyer: 0.3% of sale price for transactions not exceeding SGD2 million (US$1,481,481), subject to a min fee of SGD1,800 (US$1,333), for the case where the purchase price/ purchase consideration does not exceed SGD2 million (US$1,481,481).

Registration Fee:
Lodge transfer at Singapore Land Authority

Real Estate Agent’s Fee
The seller pays a minimum of 2% of contracted price as sales commission. The buyer pays 1% of contracted price as service fee. 






Comments

#1 TOM MCNERNEY | April 12, 2015

This article is very out of date. With ABSD, a foreigner is paying 18% total stamp duty on purchase and then has to hold the property for at least 4 years to avoid further tax on sale. You should update this.

#2 EDWIN GOH WJ | February 26, 2016

Hi Tom Mcnerney, the article is up-to-date. The author has separate the usual Buyer Stamp Duty (BSD) and Additional Buyer Stamp Duty (ABSD) into 2 components. For foreigner, he/she has to pay the total stamp duty which is the sum of BSD + ABSD, which is 18% as you have mentioned. However, it is important to note, nationals of Switzerland, Norway, USA, Iceland & Liechstenstein are treated as Singaporean when they buy the property here. That is to say, these national has ABSD of 0%. Hope this would give a better understanding of the stamp duty required to be paid when buying a property in Singapore.

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