Singapore Property Rules and Regulations

Singapore Property Rules and Regulations Updates, includes taxes, government measures for new lunches announcement, new discount schemes. Essential information for buyers who are buying Singapore residential properties, Singapore commercial properties, condominium and apartments for sale and for rent or lease, also detached, semi-detached, terrace, cluster houses, landed houses with condominium status. etc.

SOHO: Home & Office or Home Office?


SOHO is a marketing term

SOHO or “Small Office Home Office”  is a marketing term used by developers and estate agents. It does not refer to any specific use or type of development that is allowable or approved by the Competent Authority under the Planning Act.  The planning permission for a unit marketed as a SOHO unit is for either residential or office use but not for both uses.

Residential properties and the Home-Office Scheme

Residential units are intended for long-term residential stay, and cannot be converted to other uses, like commercial uses, that could cause disturbances and inconveniences to residents. However, under the Home-Office Scheme, owners of residential units can use their homes to conduct small-scale businesses, provided they do not cause disamenity to other residents. To do so, the owner must register for the home-office use under the Home Office Scheme (see for details). Only small-scale businesses that comply with the planning guidelines applicable to home-offices (e.g. not hiring more than two non-resident employees) are permitted within residential units. Other commercial businesses or uses that do not meet the guidelines are not allowed.

To provide more clarity for purchasers of residential properties, we strongly urge developers who use the term “SOHO” in any of their advertisements to highlight the approved use of the unit to prospective purchasers. Developers should let prospective purchasers know the restrictions on its use by inserting the following pre-approved clause in the Sale and Purchase Agreement and disclosing the contents of this clause to intending purchasers before the acceptance of the booking fee:

“Approved Use of the Unit”

The Unit is approved for use for residential purpose under the Planning Act.  The purchaser may not use the Unit for any other purpose unless permitted by the Competent Authority or authorised under the Planning Act.  The Purchaser is authorised to use the Unit as a home-office for a small scale business only if the conditions for the change to home-office use as set out in the Planning (Development of Land Authorisation) Notification e.g. lodging the required registration form for the change in use with the Competent Authority, are complied with.

Office properties are not allowed for residential use

Office properties are to be used according to their approved use (i.e. as offices), and are not meant for residential use. Hence, developers should refrain from using the term “SOHO” for office developments in any of their advertisements and should not make any representations to intending purchasers that the office units may be used for residential uses.

Marketing collaterals

Developers are required to ensure that representations made to prospective purchasers, including but not limited to those in advertisements (e.g. in newspapers or websites) and sales brochures for their projects, are accurate.  The Controller will not hesitate to take action if developers are found to have contravened any rule.

If developers engage estate agents to assist them in marketing their properties, they should provide estate agents with accurate information about the allowable use of the development so that estate agents would not misrepresent any information to the prospective purchasers.

URA’s The Home Office (HO) scheme

Home owners, tenants or occupiers of private residential properties or HDB flat can conduct small–scale businesses in their homes, as long as they satisfy the prevailing HO guidelines and performance criteria and ensure that the use does not cause amenity problems to the neighbours.

Businesses that are not permitted under the Home Office Scheme are

  • Maid Agency/Employment Agency 
  • Contractors Business 
  • Car Trading Business 
  • Commercial School e.g. music, dance, language school or tuition centre 
  • Sales/Marketing that involve conducting seminars/talks for large number of customers 
  • Courier Business 
  • Manufacture/Preparation/Processing of products and goods. Examples are food products, beverages, textiles, apparel, handbags, footwear, wood and paper products, pharmaceutical products, soap, food chemicals, additives, joss sticks, camphor products, glass, plastic, rubber products, domestic appliances, watches and clocks and other related products
  • Ophthalmic Dispensing/Pharmacy/Medical or Dental Clinics/Veterinary Medicine 
  • Card Reading/Palm Reading or fortune telling in any form 
  • Funeral chapels or homes 
  • Mausoleums 
  • Shops and any form of retail activity, including pet shops. 
  • Food Catering/Restaurants 
  • Conducting of dress making/embroidery lessons 
  • Repair of household appliances, electrical products, footwear, etc. 
  • Beauty /Hair-Dressing/Massage therapy services

Application for Home Office Scheme:

Summaries: URA does not recognize “SOHO” as a planning term and does not specifically approve a development for “SOHO” use. Rather, developments being marketed as SOHO today are approved either as Office or Residential but not for both uses.

Home owners, tenants or occupiers of private residential properties can apply for permission to use as Home Office, terms & conditions applied as explained.


Q: Can I change SOHO office to residential
A: No, unlikely. URA had rejected many applications for change of use as the properties are approved for commercial and office uses. So far, URA only allowed to apply approval for using residential premises to use as home office for a period of time under Home Office Scheme. Subject to renewal, and revision of regulation.

Disclaimers: This article is combined version of SOHO clerification that made up from a couple of old articles by URA, as per requedted. We are not legal advisor or lawyer. Rules and regulations are subject to Authorities revisions.

Source: URA, Singapore

  • DC Connect: Jan 2011
  • Clarifying Soho limitations: Apr 2013
  • Usage Of The Term “Small Office Home Office” Nov 2013

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About this pages: SOHO, Home Office, Singapore, URA, Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore, property, real estate, office for sale, office space rental, change of use, rules and regulations

Essential Information for EC Buyers

Definitions of Executive Condominium (EC)

Executive condominiums (EC) were introduced by the government in 1995 to meet the housing aspirations of the growing number of graduates and young professionals. They are strata-titled apartments built by the private sector and has similar facilities to a private condominium.

There are restrictions for the first few years such as eligibility conditions similar to those for HDB flats, and a minimum occupation period before the flat can be sold. Urban Redevelopment Authority of Singapore (URA)


Eligibility Conditions (to buy from developer)

  • Citizenship
  • Age
  • Family Nucleus
  • Income Ceiling
  • Special Requirement for Undischarged Bankrupts
  • Ownership in Private Property
  • Owners/Ex-owners of HDB flats / DBSS flats / EC units

Household Status

  • First-timer Applicants
  • Second-timer Applicants

Time Bar

  • Existing Owner or Ex-Owner of an HDB Flat
  • Ex-Owner of an EC
  • Essential Occupier
  • Divorcees
  • Cancellation of Application After Booking a Flat
  • Bought an EC/DBSS Flat with CPF Housing Grant

Conditions after Purchase

  • Conditions after Purchase

Buying an Executive Condominium from Open Market

  • Eligibility Conditions
  • Procedure to buy

Continue reading full contents please click here

About this page: Singapore EC, Executive Condominium, Essential, information, eligible to buy, direct from developer, HDB, firest timer, second timer, third timer, applicant, resale. 

Important Information for Foreign Purchasers

Rules and Practices in Purchasing Singapore Properties


1) Property Under Constructions (Included Property obtained TOP less than 1 year)

Pay according to Progress of The Constructions
This term and conditions are standardised by Singapore Authorities as following

Payment to be made to: Project Account (Special Control Account setup by Authorities to safeguard Buyers)

2) Property After Construction (1 Year After TOP Obtained)

Normal Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD)
To be paid buy buyers within 14 days after exercise 3% of Purchase Price minus $5,400/-

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty  (ABSD or property cooling measure)
To be paid by buyers in addition of the Normal Buyer’s Stamp Duty within 14 days after exercise according to citizenship status of buyers as following:-

Seller Stamp Duty (SSD)
To be paid if sell the property purchased after 14 Jan 2011 as following:-

Property Tax

Residential Property for Own Stay
4% per annum based on estimated of annual value or 1 year rental (allow only 1 property)

Residential Property for Investment
10-16% per annum based on estimated of annual value or 1 year rental based on progressive rate below:-

By Calculations: ranges of 10-16% for rental rate range of $30,000-$180,000

About this page: Singapore Condo For Sale, Singapore, Practices, Real Estate, Rules, Regulations, Foreign Purchasers, Property Tax, Taxes, Mode of Payments, 

Schedule of Payments

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Landed Residential Property’s Restrictions and Conditions for Foreign Purchasers

Restrictions on Foreign Ownership of Properties


Property Registration Services Since 1973, the Singapore Government has imposed restrictions on foreign ownership of private residential property in Singapore. Such ownership is governed by the Residential Property Act (the Act).

The Act seeks to strike a balance between giving Singaporeans a stake in the country by being able to buy and own residential properties at affordable prices, while attracting foreign talent by allowing permanent residents, foreign companies and limited liability partnerships that make an economic contribution to Singapore to purchase such properties for their occupation.

The Land Dealings (Approval) Unit administers the provisions of the Act 

What is classified in Landed Residential Property under this rules? 

  • Lands, 
  • bungalow or detached houses, semi-detached house, terrace Houses, cluster houses, link bungalows, townhouses, 
  • shophouses or
  • Any residential property which that has separated land ownership or 
  • Any residential properties which are not approved condominium developments under the Planning Act.

Who are under these restrictions and conditions for purchasing?

  • Foreigners
  • Singapore Permanent Residents
  • Foreign Companies, Limited Partnerships, Organizations, Societies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: My spouse, a foreigner, owns a restricted residential property.  Can I still apply to buy another restricted residential property?
A: No.

Q:How long does it take to process an application?
A:The processing time is generally within 4 weeks after the date we receive all the requisite documents and information from you.

Q: I have not decided on a specific property to purchase.  Can I still apply?
A: Yes, you can apply for approval-in-principle.  If you are granted approval-in-principle, you have to submit particulars of a specific property you intend to purchase within 6 months of the letter of approval. Otherwise, the approval will lapse.  Thereafter, should you wish to purchase a restricted residential property, you will have to make a fresh application and pay the full application fee.

Q: I have not decided on a specific property to purchase.  Can I still apply?
A: Yes, you can apply for approval-in-principle.  If you are granted approval-in-principle, you have to submit particulars of a specific property you intend to purchase within 6 months of the letter of approval. Otherwise, the approval will lapse.  Thereafter, should you wish to purchase a restricted residential property, you will have to make a fresh application and pay the full application fee.

Q: I have been granted approval in the past.  Does that mean my current application will definitely be successful?
A: No, because your current application will be assessed based on the prevailing circumstances and guidelines.

Q: Is there any restriction on the type of restricted residential property I can acquire?
A: The land area of the property must not exceed 1,393.5 square metres or 15,000 square feet. The property also must not be within a good class bungalow (GCB) area.

Q: I currently own an Executive Condominium.  Can I apply to purchase a restricted residential property?

A: If you currently own an Executive Condominium (EC) under the Executive Condominium Housing Scheme Act 1996, you are not allowed to acquire an interest in another residential property or HDB flat within the Minimum Occupation Period of 5 years, starting from the date of issue of its Temporary Occupation Permit.    For more information, please visit the HDB website at

Standard conditions applied to the Foreign Purchasers

Owner occupation only:
The property shall be used only for Purchasers’ own occupation and that of the members of your family as a dwelling house and not for rental or any other purpose.

Prohibition of sale of property:
Purchasers shall not dispose of your estate or interest in the property within 5 years after the date of your purchase of the property.

Prohibition of sale of property (restrictions for resale):
Purchasers shall not dispose of your estate or interest in the property within 5 years after the date of issue of the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) or Certificate of Statutory Completion (TOP Cert), whichever is earlier or,

Purchasers shall not dispose of your estate or interest in the property within 5 years after the date the seller delivers vacant possession of the property.

Conditions for vacant land or land with intuition to rebuild or reconstruction:
Purchasers shall complete the construction of a new dwelling house on the subject-property or additions and alterations to or reconstruction of the subject-property and obtain the Temporary Occupation Permit or Certificate of Statutory Completion, whichever is earlier, for the subject-property, within 36 months after the date of letter conveying the decision.

Prohibition of sale of property for vacant land or land with intuition to rebuild or reconstruction:

Purchasers shall not dispose of your estate or interest in the property within 5 years after the date of issue of the Temporary Occupation Permit or Certificate of Statutory Completion, whichever is earlier.

Changing decisions after purchase to tear down and rebuild, or carry out additions & alterations to or reconstruction of my property:

Yes.  If the works require the URA’s or BCA’s approval and upon completion of the works, the Temporary Occupation Permit or Certificate of Statutory Completion is issued, Purchasers will have to apply for approval to carry out the works by submitting to relevant Authorities.

Changing decisions after purchase not to carry out any of the works mentioned.  Do I need to inform LDAU?

Purchasers are required to submit an application for variation of condition to remove the conditions imposed with regard to the above works. 

Source: The Residential Property Act (Section 25), SLA 

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Presentation on TDSR

Presentation of Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR)
MAS Notice 645 Total Debt Servicing Ratio & MAS Notice 632 Residential Property Loan
With effect from 29 June 2013, Saturday

courtesy of: OCBC Banks

  1. Highlights of new measures effective 29 June 2013
  2. Consider monthly repayments of new loan and all other debts.
  3. Applies to property loans for Singapore & overseas residential/non- residential properties, to individuals or entities set up solely to purchase property;
  4. Total debt servicing ratio (TDSR) is capped at 60%.
  5. Calculate new loan repayments using min 3.5% for residential property
  6. loans;
  7. All borrowers to be mortgagors (OTP on or after 29 Jun 13);
  8. Guarantors to be co-borrowers;
  9. For joint borrowings, the income-weighted average age of borrowers to be used;
  10. Haircut of at least 30% on variable income & rental; and
  11. Haircut on the value of financial assets if used in calculating income.

Please refer to the original full presentation and reports from OCBC as following:-


About this page: Singapore, TDSR, Total Debt Serving Ratio, housing loan, bank loan, buying property in Singapore, buying condo, condo for sale, property value, resdential market, residential property loan, property market, valuation, OCBC bank, ERA, MAS Notice 645 Total Debt Servicing Ratio, MAS Notice 632 Residential Property Loan, cooling measure, 29 June 2013

ABSD 2013 in Summary

Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty 12 Jan 2013 in Summary


Raising Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD) Rates & Imposing ABSD on New Groups of Buyers

IRAS building-s

1  Currently, ABSD is imposed on certain groups of buyers:

(i) Foreigners and non-individuals purchasing any residential property, at a rate of 10%,

(ii) Permanent Residents (PRs) purchasing their second and subsequent properties, at a rate of 3%; and

(iii) Singaporeans purchasing their third and subsequent properties, at a rate of 3%.

2  ABSD rates will be raised on the above groups of buyers. In addition, ABSD will be imposed on two new groups of buyers:

(i) PRs purchasing their first residential property at a rate of 5%; and

(ii) Singaporeans purchasing their second residential property at a rate of 7%.

3  The new ABSD structure is as follows:

Citizenship ABSD Rate on 1st
ABSD Rate on 2nd
ABSD Rate on 3rd &
Subsequent Purchase

Existing: NA 
Revised: NA

Existing: NA
Revised: 7%
Existing: 3%
Revised: 10%
Permanent Residents Existing: NA
Revised: 5%
Existing: 3%
Revised: 10%
Existing: 3%
Revised: 10%
Foreigners and
non- individuals

(corporate entities)
Existing: 10%
Revised: 15%
Existing: 10%
Revised: 15%
Existing: 10%
Revised: 15%

Sources: IRAS

4  Singaporean first-time buyers and Singaporean buyers of HDB flats will not be affected by the new measure.

5  For purchases made jointly by two or more parties, the higher applicable ABSD rate will be imposed. For example, if a Singaporean purchases a property with a foreigner, the ABSD rate of 15% will apply irrespective of the number of properties each owns. If two Singaporeans jointly purchase a

property with one of them already owning a residential property at the time of purchase, the ABSD rate of 7% will apply.

6  However, ABSD relief will be provided for joint purchases by married couples with at least one Singaporean spouse (i.e. a married couple with a Singaporean spouse and PR / foreigner spouse). Such purchases will not be subject to ABSD, as long as both spouses do not own any other property at the time of purchase. This relief facilitates their purchase of a matrimonial home, and puts them in the same position as a married couple with both Singaporean spouses who are purchasing their first residential property.

7  ABSD relief will also be provided to eligible married couples with at least one Singaporean spouse, who have purchased a second private residential property and will dispose their existing residential property.

(i) The ABSD paid will be refunded if these Singaporean married couples dispose their first property within six months of the purchase of the second property, if the latter property is a completed unit.

(ii) If the second property is an uncompleted unit, the refund will be given if the first property is disposed within six months of the Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) or Certificate of Statutory Completion (CSC) date of the second property, whichever is earlier.

(iii) These Singaporean couples must also not acquire any other residential property before the disposal of the first residential property, if they wish to avail themselves of the refund on ABSD paid on the second property.

8  The revised ABSD structure will take effect on residential property purchased on or after 12 January 2013 (4). If a buyer of a residential property has been granted Option to Purchase on and before 11 January 2013 and exercises it thereafter on or before 1 February 2013 (without any extension of the option validity period), the buyer can apply to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) for remission so that the old ABSD rate will apply.

9  IRAS will be releasing an E-tax guide on the circumstances under which ABSD is applicable and the procedures for paying ABSD. The E-tax guide will be available at Taxpayers with enquiries may call IRAS at 6351 3697 or 6351 3698.


(4) The material date of acquisition is the date on which the contract is made. For instance, where there is an Option to Purchase, the material date shall be the date when the Option is exercised. In the case of a direct sale of an uncompleted property by the developer where the Sale & Purchase Agreement constitutes the first contract between the developer and the Original Purchaser, the date of acquisition shall be the date of the Sale & Purchase Agreement between the developer and the Original Purchaser.

Sources: IRAS 12 Jan 2013 ABSD
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MAS Introduces Debt Servicing Framework for Property Loans

Singapore, 28 June 2013 … 

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will introduce a Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework for all property loans granted by financial institutions (FIs) to individuals

1.  This will require FIs to take into consideration borrowers’ other outstanding debt obligations when granting property loans. They will help strengthen credit underwriting practices by FIs and encourage financial prudence among borrowers.

2   MAS will also refine rules related to the application of the existing Loan-to-Value (LTV) limits on housing loans.  These refinements seek to ensure the effectiveness of the LTV limits that were put in place to cool investment demand in the housing market.  In particular, they aim to prevent circumvention of the tighter LTV limits on second and subsequent housing loans.  

Introduction of TDSR framework

3   MAS conducted a thematic inspection of banks’ residential property loan portfolios in 2012.  While banks generally had in place sound policies to assess the credit worthiness of borrowers, the inspection and subsequent surveys revealed uneven practices with respect to the application of debt servicing ratios and highlighted areas for improvement in credit underwriting practices.

4   The TDSR framework will provide FIs a robust basis for assessing the debt servicing ability of borrowers applying for property loans, taking into consideration their other outstanding debt obligations.  FIs will be required to compute the TDSR, or the percentage of total monthly debt obligations to gross monthly income, on a consistent basis.2

5   The coverage of the TDSR framework will be more comprehensive than FIs’ current practice.  The TDSR will apply to loans for the purchase of all types of property, loans secured on property,3 and the re-financing of all such loans.4

6   The methodology for computing the TDSR will be standardised.  FIs will be required to:

take into account the monthly repayment for the property loan that the borrower is applying for plus the monthly repayments on all other outstanding property and non-property debt obligations of the borrower;

apply a specified medium-term interest rate or the prevailing market interest rate, whichever is higher, to the property loan that the borrower is applying for when calculating the TDSR;5

apply a haircut of at least 30% to all variable income (e.g. bonuses) and rental income; and

apply haircuts to and amortise the value of any eligible financial assets taken into consideration in assessing the borrower’s debt servicing ability, in order to convert them into ‘income streams’ in computing the TDSR.

7   FIs will be required to verify and obtain relevant documentation on a borrower’s debt obligations and income used in the computation of the TDSR.

8   MAS expects any property loan extended by the FI to not exceed a TDSR threshold of 60% and will regard any property loan in excess of a 60% TDSR to be imprudent.6 The threshold is set at 60% for a start to allow both the FIs and borrowers to familiarise themselves with the TDSR framework and its computation methodology.  MAS will monitor and review the 60% threshold over time, with a view to further encouraging financial prudence.      

Refinement of rules related to application of LTV limits

9   MAS will refine certain rules related to the application of the existing LTV limits on housing loans granted by FIs.  In particular, MAS will require:

borrowers named on a property loan to be the mortgagors of the residential property for which the loan is taken;

“guarantors” who are standing guarantee for borrowers otherwise assessed by the FI at the point of application for the housing loan not to meet the TDSR threshold for a property loan to be brought in as co-borrowers; and

in the case of joint borrowers, that FIs use the income-weighted average age of borrowers7 when applying the rules on loan tenure.8

Measures for the long term

10   The new rules will take effect from 29 June 2013.

11   The TDSR framework and refinements to the rules relating to the application of LTV limits are structural in nature, and will be in place for the long term. They aim to encourage prudent borrowing by households and strengthen credit underwriting standards by FIs. 

12   They do not involve changes to the LTV limits on housing loans themselves, which were last tightened in January 2013 as part of the government’s package of measures to promote stable and sustainable conditions in the housing market.9 The current LTV limits are not permanent, and will be reviewed depending on the state of the property market.

13   Please refer to the FAQs on MAS’ website for further details.


1 This includes sole proprietorships and vehicles set up by an individual solely to purchase property. 

2 In the case of a joint application for a property loan, the TDSR shall be computed based on the aggregate total monthly debt obligations and aggregate gross monthly incomes of the joint borrowers.

3 Where a loan is secured by a pool of collateral including property, the TDSR rules will apply if the market value of the property is 50% or more of the value of the total pool of collateral.

4 Existing borrowers who are seeking to refinance their housing loans will be exempted, provided they meet the specific conditions set out in MAS’ Guidelines on the Application of TDSR for Property Loans under MAS Notices 645, 1115, 831 and 128.

5 3.5% for housing loans and 4.5% for non-residential property loans.

6 Property loans in excess of the TDSR threshold of 60% should be granted only on an exceptional basis.  The board of directors of the FI (or senior management in the case of an FI incorporated outside of Singapore) will have to approve policies and procedures relating to such exceptions.  In addition, cases exceeding the threshold will need to be approved by the FI’s credit committee.

7 The income-weighted average age will be based on the borrowers’ gross monthly income.

8 Lower LTV limits apply to a loan granted for the purchase of a residential property, where the loan period extends beyond the retirement age of 65 years or the tenure exceeds 30 years.

9 In January 2013, MAS lowered the LTV limits for housing loans to individuals with one outstanding housing loan from 60% to 50%, and to individuals with two or more outstanding housing loans from 60% to 40%.  Loans with longer tenure faced even tighter LTV limits.  The LTV limit for housing loans to non-individuals was also reduced to 20%.

Sources: The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)

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