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Property prices in Singapore

Hello everyone,

Finding affordable housing in Singapore is number one priority for newcomers. Tell us more about the estate market in your district/city/region.

What are the most desired places to live? What are the most affordable ones? What is the average cost of a rented flat? And what is the average sale price for an appartment or a house? Could you tell us more about local real estate policies/procedures? What about property tax or residency tax in Singapore?

What about you? Where do you live now? Is it a place you would recommend?

Thank you in advance for your clarifications.

Priscilla

Since property ownership is restricted for foreigners (and extremely expensive), most foreigners rent.
The Singapore property market is divided into governmentally-subsidised HDB flats, which foreigners cannot buy and renting is also restricted, and private properties, mostly in high-rise "Condominiums" with certain amenities and luxuries, that have no such limitations.
Rents are high and volatile, depending on the economic situation. Budget S$3000-5000/month for a family-sized apartment. Smaller places fit for singles are rare and cost from S$2000/month upwards. There are no one-room or studio flats!
Sublet rooms in shared apartments cost S$800-1200/month and are the usual option for singles.
Many rental apartments are furnished, but do not expect new, practical or good-looking pieces.
On top of the rent, a tenant has to pay stamp duty (a tax to make the rental contract legally valid) and of course electricity/gas. This can amount to S$200-500/month for a family-sized unit, mostly depending on your aircon usage.

Agree with you beppi unless you are SPR (singapore permanent resident), i used to rent 3 bed room HDB flat for 3K per month which aint ideal so i decided to purchase a unit for 438K, a nightmare dealing we agent, HDB and renovation contractor.
for a foreigner its ideal to rent near to any mode of transport and shopping areas.

Cheers
Ben

Hi All
I just join this forum and notice this section on property.

Will try to give a brief concise reply here since I am qualified as a certified real estate professional practising since 2011.

For Foreigners, seeking to buy for investment or home-stay, most accessible options are private condominiums and apartments where location and proximity to MRT (subway), popular amenities, prominent schools, proximity to offices/shops/industrial area etc will be variants influencing the prices. 
Foreigners are not eligible to buy public housing (defined as HDB in Singapore) and most landed houses.  (Exception for eligibility for landed houses open to foreigners are those designated in Sentosa Cove.  Most other landed are not accessible unless you apply and receive special approval from LDAU (government authority looking into application for private landed housing outside Sentosa Cove).

For Foreigners who come to Singapore to work, to study or for a substantial time period of stay of 1 yr, 2yrs or more, most foreigners would look for renting private residential apartments, condos, landed houses (for rental - all locations available for consideration, not just those in Sentosa Cove).   Similar location and proximity as above for buying are factors that will also influence the rental.

Finally, in Singapore, private purchases or private rental are subject to contracts which will be legally binding for both buyer-seller, tenant-landlord once agreement confirmed in documentation. 

Both process can be rather complicated and tedious so most will engage a good real estate professional to effect the whole process to completion smoothly.

Hope this summarise and help clarify to your question.



Best Rgds
Kevin
***

Moderated by Priscilla 3 months ago
Reason : Do not post your personal contact details on a public forum for your own security

I have to contradict Kevin (see above) in one point:
In my personal experience (of 12 years renting in five different locations in  Singapore and three years renting out a sublet room) it is better to avoid property agents!

The first reason is that the complications he mentioned mostly ORIGINATE from having one or two (if both parties have one) agents involved, in addition to landlord and tenant - dealing directly with the landlord is usually easier and faster (if he/she is reasonable - and the unreasonable ones can be sorted out this way). That way, I never had any problems with a landlord (or tenant), in most cases avoided stamp duty and similar nonsense, had more flexible rental conditions than the "one or two years fixed" that most agents will tell you as standard and in some cases didn't even need a written tenancy contract. Such things are only possible when trust and friendliness prevails - and agents preclude that.

The second reason is that Singapore property agents have a well-deserved reputation of dishonesty and shoddy service. They like to be paid in multiples of the contracted monthly rent (and might tell you that is the standard, although in fact there are no rules - everything is negotiable - and other fee structures make more sense) and thus have no interest in bringing the rent down for you. They also often ignore rules that, in most cases, the landlord must pay them - before you pay a property agent, do check very thoroughly if you need to pay at all (usually you don't)!

The third reason is that, in my own personal experience, the better rental deals are available without agent. Landlords engage agents to maximise profits - and that comes from your pocket! You'd never find a terrace house near Sixth Avenue for S$1900/month or a spacious 3BR Condo in Bukit Timah for S$2400/month with an agent, but I found them without.

There is one, and only one reason for engaging an agent as a tenant: Time!
Doing the search yourself costs more energy and you might have to wait longer until the perfect home is found. If you are in a hurry (i.e. have a month or less), you have no choice to swallow the cost, complication and opportunity lost of going with an agent.

In addition to my post above, here a few points to keep in mind when dealing with Singapore property agents (i.e. if you cannot avoid them):

You only need to pay an agent if
1. you engaged him/her and NOT the landlord (they are not allowed to collect fees from both). An agent who advertises a property was engaged by the landlord for doing it, thus replying to an ad will not make you liable to pay. Unscrupulous agents often advertise non-existing, attractive properties and then tell you "Sorry, this one is already taken. But should I look for similar ones for you?" If you say Yes, Wham: You engaged him/her for a property search and you have to pay!
Sometimes they also insist on having separate agents for landlord and tenant (thus both have to pay - and the two agents are usually buddies). There is absolutely no need to do this and it's a waste of money!
2. you have signed a written agent agreement at the start, which explains the fees.
Make sure this is a one-time fee - unscrupulous agents sometimes make it a recurring fee at every renewal of the (usually one or two years) rental contract, which is easy money for them (from your pocket)!
3. the agent is certified by CEA (the regulating body for estate agents, www.cea.gov.sg). You can also direct complaints about registered agents to CEA, if there are problems (for non-registered and thus illegal ones, you are on your own).

Negotiate a fee structure that makes the agent work in your favour. Giving a fixed base sum for his/her efforts plus a bonus based on how much the final rent remains UNDER your pre-determined maximum works well. However, agents do not like this and will tell you that the standard fee is X months final rent. This is nonsense: There is no standard, fees are freely negotiable! (Needless to say, if you agree on a X months fee, you will end up with a property costing above your maximum.)

And, last not least, choose your agent wisely. In Singapore, this is a last resort or stop-gap job for many lost souls, who think they can get rich quick this way and give up the job when realising it isn't the case. You should only engage serious and experienced agents who are in the business for many years. But don't just take their word for it, they should show you references and previous customer testimonials!

Dear Beppi & All
Good Day !

I was surprise to see a response to my posting just yesterday. Thank you for reading & clarifying your perspectives and experiences so far... 

I noted your points above and I understand where you are coming from. Please allow me to clarify some aspects of your postings - you may review & reflect ( as my only intent here is to provide an accurate perspective) and this may also be helpful to many others here who are discovering Singapore real estate market.

1st:
A good professional Real Estate professional will be able to facilitate your search with speed & efficiency and to help complete the whole process with sufficient due diligence and with proper legal agreements.  In the case of rental, a good professional Real Estate professional will help you find the best value rental with the nicest match landlord possible to rent your Tenancy Stay.

From reading your posts above, I suspect you may have encounter some unpleasant past experiences.  On behalf of the professional real estate industry, I would like to apologise for your bad encounters. Let me describe the changes and improvements undergoing in this industry.  In the past, almost any one with basic educational qualifications can become a real estate agent.  There was no clear rules & guidelines in the market place.  It may have foster a few "bad hats" who are interested more in their rewards than in the service they provide. It is for that reason, CEA was formed and it has now become more & more difficult to be certified as a agent and it has become an offence to practise without the proper license.  Nowadays, licenses are renew on a yearly basis hence weeding out many "bad hats" & "dishonest, unscrupulous" practitioners.  (See https://www.cea.gov.sg/about-us/who-we-are/overview )


2nd:
There are risks and pit falls as with any business deals.  A good professional Real Estate professional will advise you and guide you in the process, often doing many "silent works" of due diligence.  For example, you engage an agent to find your rent with your preferred criterias, will screen thru the options in the market, weeding out "undesirables", "mis-leading adverts (if any)" and also ensuring that the Landlord is the actual Landlord.  He will also advise you should there be any miscellaneous charges such as maintenances which the Landlord may expect you to bear and many such incidents.  When it comes to "uncomfortable scenarios", your agent will be your best rep to professionally work out any disagreements from Landlords who are unreasonable such as during handing over. 

On your posting, I note that your reference of stamp duty as something to avoid . . .  You also mention that there may not be a need for written tenancy contract (hope I am reading you well).  These are potential pit falls when trying to DIY your search. 
It is mandatory for any tenancy for tenants to pay the stamp duty.  Landlord is also require to ensure that tenants do that.  Else, it is an offence under the law and in Singapore context, such avoidance always get discover by the authorities - one way or another.  Please refer to the following:  https://www.iras.gov.sg/irashome/Other- … -Property/
& http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/d … ;whole=yes )

Avoiding written tenancy contracts actually place you at unimaginable risks.  Either Landlord may not honour their offer (raise prices when market is better or give you short notice to evict when finding better tenants) or Landlord may not be the actual Landlord etc etc etc . . .


3rd:
Better deals? 
If you found a landed in Sixth Avenue renting for $1900/mth or a 3brm condo in Bukit Timah for $2400/mth on your own and the units are in good working conditions, no leakage, no problems with aircons, kitchen appliances, equipments etc . . .  is indeed applaudable a find and if the Landlord is the actual Landlord . . . and will continue to honour his offer for your tenancy stay.  With a written Tenancy Agreement, it protects both Tenants & Landlord to abide by the terms agreed upon and it gives both the peace of mind.  It also clarify what is expected of each party.

Agent commission.  You are correct to state that commissions are negotiable between agent and who he represent.  For rental, it has been widespread practise here that 2 yrs tenancy equate to one month's rent as commission for the agent and respective 1yr equate to half a month's rent.  Yes, there may be agents willing to receive less as there are agents who requests more but it is a flat amount negotiated at the beginning of working relations.  At end of the day, you get what you pay for.  Agents who accept less - do you trust him/her to give your a proper service?

Renewal fees - there is a clause in most Tenancy Agreement that touch on this. If you choose this for your agent, the agent will ensure that when it comes closer to renewal to ensure you get the best renewal with the Landlord.  If you choose not to, your agent will not be involve and the Landlord may either increase your renewal rental or find another tenant (and you face the hassle to search for another one, hopefully with sufficient time).

Tenancy terms - you can opt for any length of time (1 yr, 1.5 yr, 2yr, 3yr etc) with  6months rental as minimum stipulated by law. 
(See https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/buy-property … ntial.aspx &
https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/media-room/f … 13-19.aspx )



I hope that the explanations above help to clarify.  It has taken much longer than I expected but I would not want to skim any major points.  I do agree that if you or anyone else here can find a good rent on your own at the most affordable rent and without any pitfalls . . .  by all means, go for it.  The markets here do not dictate that you must have an agent (similarly, the same applies to hiring lawyers, doctors, brokers etc).  Of course, hiring a professional with the necessary skillset & knowledge will give you the right value you seek.  You get what you pay for.


Finally, if you or anyone seek further clarification on any of the points above or to chat, please feel free to email *** or contact me directly.



Wishing you Happy New Year and a Warm Welcome Stay in Singapore ! ! !


Best Rgds
Kevin

Thanks for the long reply. (But please stop posting personal contact details, which isn't allowed in this forum!)
While I agree that the situation regarding property agent's honesty has improved somewhat in recent years, due to the licensing scheme, there is still widespread cheating (e.g. double collecting of fees, or pushing tenants into "engaging" the agents as I described above, or sham "double agents" who are in fact buddies) and generally shoddy service. The Singapore rental market and related regulations are also easy enough that nobody needs a professional for it.
I never had bad experiences myself (because I avoid using agents), but I know people who did - and Internet forums are full of stories proving this. I also knew some agents personally, who in private confirmed my view.
We just have a different opinion here - but unlike you, I have no commercial interest in stating mine. Our readers may decide for themselves whom they believe more.

Hi Beppl
My intent was to give a professional response so that anyone who agree or disagree can have direct access to me, and not an anonymous person behind the web.
Noted - as I was not aware.  Will take note. (will try to search later for the guideline)

About those double collection of commission or any of those bad reports, please ask your friends to officially write in or call CEA with supporting proofs and CEA will contact the respective agent for clarification and verification if they had conducted themselves in such an incorrect way.  If the offence is serious and proven correct, CEA will take action.  There are reports on the press of actions taken.  Try google and old archives of Straits Times etc.

Please, Mr Beppl, may I suggest you look forward and give the benefit of doubt that this industry has improve.  Please try to understand that accountability, integrity and responsibility is very much expected of a professional real estate agent today.


Thank you & Have a Nice Day!

Kevin

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