Admit it: You want to own a piece of property in Singapore but every year you put off the decision to become a homeowner for a variety of reasons. If your list of reasons has finally run out and every last excuse you’ve conjured has vanished, perhaps you need a final push to make that decision. We’d like to help you out by listing six great reasons to stop stalling and start shopping. Consider them all and don’t be surprised if a few more come up that will convince you to make 2015 the year you own property in Singapore.
1. Singapore property agents are amazing.
And you only need one skilled at interpreting your wishes, desires and budget to achieve success. Sure, agents in Singapore share the same portfolio, but that doesn’t mean that each representative hasn’t got a unique personality, perspective and expertise and wait until you see how easy they make it to find exactly what you’re looking for. Your job is to be frank and clear about what you seek in terms of price, location, dimensions and aesthetics. A great property agent doesn’t stop when you shop—she can also refer you to dependable legal and financial help throughout the process.
2. You’ll find exactly what you want.
Suitable properties in Singapore are everywhere and they run the gamut from land to houses to condos. Identify the type of property you seek so your property agent doesn’t accompany you on a wild goose chase! Tour each property with your favorite communication device: anything from legal pad and pen to an electronic device that allows you to take notes on furnishings, fixtures, appliances, landscaping, prices and more. If you have special needs and require, for example, an elevator so your elderly parents can visit, make sure that criteria is met or cross a non-suitable property off your list immediately.
3. It’s easy to negotiate.
Once you have narrowed down your list to prime candidates, take a second tour of each so you can be sure you haven’t missed anything during your first review. Identify the property that best suits your needs and prepare to put down a 1-percent retainer as a consideration in exchange for the Option to Purchase. You will have 14 days to decide if this is really the property for you, at which point, you sign and forward to the seller’s solicitor the completed option paperwork with an additional 4-percent to 9-percent of the purchase price to seal the deal. Involve your own solicitor at this point to protect yourself!
4. The hardest part is waiting.
It takes around eight to 10 weeks to complete a property transaction in Singapore even if your solicitor is the “take charge” type. The hardest part of this process will be waiting and waiting! Expect to take one more tour of the property as the bureaucratic portion of your sale is handled by solicitors, lenders and government officials requiring a stamp duty of 3-percent of the purchase price paid to the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore if the price tag on the property exceeds S$300,000. While the seller is responsible for paying agency commissions, you are responsible for legal expenses (on average, a one-off fee of S$3,000).
5. Let out the property if you don’t want to live there.
As a new property owner, maximize your real estate investment now that property taxes are a new part of your lexicon. Expect your property tax rate to be around 10-percent annually if you’re planning to let the property or take advantage of a lower taxation rate of just 4-percent if you reside on premises. If you don’t plan to occupy your new property, offset part of your tax burden by working with your property agent to lease—especially if you own in prime areas like Districts 9, 10 and 11!
6. Jump on board the HDB train!
More than 80-percent of all Singaporeans live in Housing Development Board properties within self-functioning towns where all amenities are steps away. Non-Singaporeans are prohibited from buying in these areas, but as a national, you can invest in one of these properties under various laws, such as the Executive Condominium Housing Scheme Act and Planning Act. Anticipate a lot of complex negotiations if you opt for this type of property purchase, so your property agent and solicitor could become your closest friends the moment you tour various HBD in Singapore sites. Whether you choose a new unit or go the resale market route, you’ll quickly discover advantages to becoming a property owner in Singapore, not the least of which is finally having a place you can call your own and not the landlord’s!