Decoupling Property for Singapore Permanent Resident

Decoupling Property for Singapore Permanent Resident

Table of Contents

Introduction

Every year there are only 30,000 Singapore Permanent Resident citizenship being issued. Coupled with the increasingly difficult qualification criteria set by the Singapore government, it has become a tall task for foreigners looking to establish their homes in Singapore.

The fact that you landed on this article, we reckon that you have been a Singapore PR for some time and you are ready to explore the opportunities of going beyond owning a property for your own stay, and take the next step towards owning your second investment property.

Objective

This article is written specifically for Singapore Permanent Residents looking to own their second property by decoupling.

We will be specifically highlighting some of the key differences that a Singapore PR will encounter in their decoupling journey as compared to that of a Singapore Citizen.

For a deeper understanding of the different components that makes up the decoupling process, do check out the complete guide to decoupling.

What is decoupling ?

To set the context for those that are uninitiated.

The main objective of decoupling is to avoid incurring the hefty additional buyer stamp duty that will be levied by Singapore’s tax authority (IRAS), when purchasing your second property.

With the latest April 2023 revision to ABSD rates, Singapore permanent residents will have to incur a 30% additional buyer stamp duty on their second property purchase.

Assuming your current property is jointly owned between you and your spouse, decoupling seeks to free up one party’s name from the current property ownership by initiating an internal buy and sell transaction between you and your spouse.

The final outcome of decoupling will result in one party buying over the share of the other party, freeing up one name for the second property purchase. Under such a situation, no ABSD will be levied, as IRAS deem you as a first time property owner.

How does decoupling work for Singapore Permanent Residents ?

The decoupling process is largely similar for both Singapore PR and Singapore citizens. It will involve a process that mimics an actual buy and sell transaction between you and your spouse.

There will be a “staying” party and a “leaving” party, the staying party will be buying over the leaving party’s share in the current property.

This is facilitated by two independent law firms, each representing you and your spouse. The decoupling process will be made official by the signing of a sale and purchase agreement.

The key differences in decoupling for Singapore Permanent Residents versus Singapore Citizen

While the decoupling process remains similar for Singapore PR, the key difference lies in two areas, 1) the cost of decoupling, 2) the cost saving from ABSD.

Singapore PR would be required to pay an additional buyer stamp duty when decoupling.

Assuming both you and your spouse are Singapore PR, when you are looking to buy over your spouse share, you will be required to pay an ABSD of 5% over the value of your spouse share.

This is applicable as all Singapore PR will be levied a 5% ABSD even on their first property purchase. We will further illustrate the impact in later sections in which we will dive in details on the cost of decoupling for Singapore permanent residents.

Greater cost savings on ABSD for Singapore PR when purchasing second property

Referencing the ABSD rates table below, without decoupling, a Singapore PR will be required to pay a ABSD of 30% on the purchase price or valuation of the 2nd property, whichever is higher.

Assuming the 2nd property is priced at $1.4 mil, as a Singapore PR you will be looking to incur a ABSD of $420,000.

While a Singapore citizen is required to pay 20% ABSD on the purchase price or valuation of the 2nd property.

Using the same example, if a Singapore citizen was to purchase the $1.4mil property, he will be looking to incur a ABSD of only $280,000.
Hence, the cost saving from avoiding ABSD would be more significant for a Singapore PR than a Singapore Citizen.

Singapore Permanent Resident that are eligible for property decoupling

Before we move further to discuss the cost of decoupling, let’s first establish when you are eligible for decoupling.

Singapore PR currently owning a HDB flat will not be eligible for decoupling, this is also applicable for Singapore citizens. In 2016, HDB tightened its share transfer policy to only allow share transfers between joint owners under 6 specific situations such as divorce, marriage or demise.

Singapore PR owning a HDB flat can check out the following article for HDB decoupling.

To take things one notch further, Singapore PR currently owning a HDB flat will not be allowed to purchase a second private property even if you choose to pay the 30% additional buyer stamp duties. HDB regulation mandates that Singapore PR will have to dispose of their HDB unit, within 6 months from the purchase of their private property.

Singapore PR co-owning an EC with a Singapore citizen, will be eligible to decouple once the 5 year minimum occupancy period is fulfilled.

Lastly for Singapore permanent residents owning a private condominium or landed property, you will be eligible to decouple at any point in time.

Cost of decoupling for Singapore Permanent Residence

In this section, we will touch on the cost of decoupling, many of the cost elements are applicable to a Singapore citizen as well. The key difference lies in the fact that Singapore PR will need to pay an additional 5% ABSD, if they are the one buying over shares from their spouse.

General cost elements incurred when decoupling

Assuming both you and your spouse are Singapore PRs and your current property is valued at $1.5 mil. You co-owned the property with your spouse under a 50-50 joint ownership.

Cost of Decoupling for PRAmount
“Buyer stamp duty on 50% share of $1.5mil property, $750,000”17,100
“Additonal buyer stamp duty 5% applicable to PR for purchase of first property”37,500
Legal Fee (average between $3500 to $7000)5,000
Seller stamp duties (not applicable if decoupling take place after 3 year of puchasing property)NA
Early loan redemption penalty (not applicable if existing mortgage is not within lock in period)NA
Miscellaneous eg. property valuation600
Total cost of decoupling60,200

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For greater details on the actual mechanics behind the flow of funds and cost of decoupling refer to the following article

Additional consideration for a household with 1 Singapore Permanent Resident and 1 Singapore citizen

Things get interesting when your household is made up of 1 Singapore PR and 1 Singapore Citizen. You will get to decide who becomes the “staying party”, the one that is going to buy over shares from the “leaving party”.

If the Singapore PR in the household becomes the staying party, you will be incurring a 5% ABSD over the valuation of your spouse, the leaving party’s share.

On the flip side if the Singapore PR becomes the leaving party and the Singapore citizen in the household becomes the staying party, and buys over share from the spouse with PR status.

There will not be any ABSD incurred during decoupling, but when the Singapore PR spouse goes out to purchase the 2nd property, you will be incurring a 5% ABSD on the purchase price or valuation of the 2nd property, whichever is higher.

Scenario – SPR and SC household looking to decouple a 1 mil property and looking to purchase a 2 mil investment property

Let’s illustrate this with an example to get everyone on the same page.

Consider the following

  • A household made up of a Singapore PR and Singapore citizen spouse
  • Currently owning a 1 mil private condo and is looking to decouple this property
  • Current property is jointly owned in a 50-50 split
  • Goal is to purchase a 2nd property that has a purchase price of 2 mil

When Singapore citizen becomes the “staying party” and Singapore PR becomes the “leaving party”.

Referencing the table below, there will not be any ABSD incurred when decoupling as Singapore citizen spouse is buying over shares from SPR spouse. But SPR spouse will incur ABSD when purchasing the 2nd property.

Cost consideration – ABSDCalculationAmount
ABSD incurred when decoupling – 5% on 50% stake of property0 – As Singapore citizen spouse is the one buying over shares from PR spouse0
ABSD incurred when purchasing 2nd property – 5% on the purchase price of the 2nd property5% x 2mil100,000
Total ABSD Incurred100,000

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When Singapore citizen becomes the “leaving party” and Singapore PR becomes the “staying party”.

On the flip side if the Singapore PR spouse becomes the staying party, the household will incur a 5% ABSD during the decoupling process, but saves on ABSD when purchasing the 2nd property.

Cost consideration – ABSDCalculationAmount
ABSD incurred when decoupling – 5% on 50% stake of property5% x (50% of 1 mil)25,000
ABSD incurred when purchasing 2nd property – 5% on the purchase price of the 2nd property0 – As Singapore Citizen spouse purchases the 2nd property0
Total ABSD Incurred25,000

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When should a SPR be the leaving party, purchasing the 2nd property and when should a SPR be the one owing the existing property ?

From the illustrations above, it is clear that the property value of the existing property and 2nd property will be a factor to consider when deciding who should be the staying and leaving party, specifically in a household consisting of Singapore citizens and Singapore PR.

From a cost savings perspective, it is often optimal to have the Singapore PR spouse purchasing the lower value property and the Singapore citizen spouse purchasing the higher value property.

Cost aside, it is also important to consider the income of each spouse in the household as it will determine whether the spouse should be supporting the property of higher or lower value.

To get help navigating these financial calculations, drop us a text and our analyst can assist you with it.

Is decoupling worth it for Singapore Permanent Resident ?

Given the goal is to assemble a two property portfolio, addressing the question above is much simpler for Singapore PR as compared to Singapore Citizen.

The main factor of consideration is whether the cost savings from avoiding ABSD on the second property is significantly greater than the cost incurred when decoupling.

Referencing back to examples that we have used throughout this article.

Assuming you are a household consisting of 2 Singapore PRs, and your current property is valued at 1.5 mil.

Referring to the cost table in section “cost of decoupling”, you will be looking at a total cost of $60,200.

Assuming you and your spouse are looking to purchase a second property that is valued 1.2 mil. Given that you do not decouple you will be looking at a 30% ABSD, with cost coming up to $360,000. With decoupling, you will only be looking at a 5% ABSD on the 2nd property, only incurring $60,000.

This sums up to a $300,000 cost saving in ABSD on the purchase of the 2nd property, if decoupling is adopted.

ABSD Incurred for Singapore PRCost
2nd Property Purchase Price120,0000
Without Decoupling – 30% on purchase price or valuation of 2nd property360,000
After Decoupling – 5% on purchase price or valuation of 2nd property60,000

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Finally, rationalising this $300,000 cost saving from ABSD with the $60,200 cost incurred in the decoupling process, the cost savings would be significant enough to justify decoupling.

There are situations in which the cost of decoupling can exceed cost saving from ABSD.

To be objective, there are certain situations that cost of decoupling can become so significant that it does not make sense to decouple.

This is normally due to the incurrence of seller stamp duty and early loan redemption penalty.

For a detailed illustration of this situation refer to our complete guide on decoupling.

Property type that a Singapore Permanent Resident can consider as second property

When it comes to property restriction for the 2nd property, a Singapore PR is free to purchase any private condominium.

The only restriction that is applicable to a Singapore PR and not applicable to a Singapore citizen, is that Singapore PR will have to seek approval for SLA when looking to purchase landed property.

The usual restriction of not being able to purchase any BTO, EC or HDB flats as second property are applicable for both Singapore citizens and PRs.

Refer to the following article for the common property types investors would normally consider after decoupling.

Calculating the cost of decoupling

Having established a understanding of what it take for a PR to decouple your property, the natural next steps would be to make some preliminary calculation on how much funds you need to decouple and how much proceeds you will receive after decoupling. 

Head over to the decoupling calculator to get your financials calculated. 

Decoupling property for foreigners in Singapore

In case, your household consist of a Singapore PR and a foreigner, that challenges you face when decoupling would be unique to your circumstances.

For a seperate discussion, refer to the article on decoupling property for foreigners in Singapore for more insight.

More reads, more gains ?

Kudos on making it this far. The fact that you have invested the last 5 mins reading this article. We believe you are a like minded real estate investor looking to beat the rat race by getting more out of your real estate investment.

If so, do check out the following articles.

FAQ

Can PR buy a second property in Singapore ?

In short, Yes, a Singapore PR can purchase a second property in Singapore. But you will have to incur an additional buyer stamp duty of 30% on the purchase price or valuation of the property whichever is higher. But Singapore PR currently owning HDB flats are not allowed to own a second property, you will need to dispose of the current HDB flat within 6 months, after purchasing a second private property. 

Can Singapore PR use CPF to buy a condo ?

In summary, yes, a Singapore PR can use CPF to buy a condo. The amount of CPF that can used depends on the loan to valuation ratio that you are eligible for. For your first property, you will be entitled to a full 75% LTV ratio, meaning you can fund the property purchase with loan up to 75% of the property value. The remaining 25% can be funded by a combination of cash and CPF after satisfying the minimum 5% cash down payment requirement.

Can Singapore PR own HDB and Condo at the same time ?

No, Singapore PR will not be allowed to own HDB flat and condo at the same time. He or she would have to dispose of your HDB flat 6 months from the purchase of your private condo. 

Legal Disclaimer : Please do not take this as legal advice, refer to a qualified legal counsel specialising in decoupling for a formal review of your plans based on your specific circumstances.

Author

  • Jue Wen

    Jue Wen is the content marketing lead. This means he spend his waking hours researching and writing all things real estate. He believes life is a hustle and there is no joy in grinding away daily in our little rat races. He believes making wise moves in real estate investment can be a game changer. Aside from writing all things real estate, you can find him in your nearest bouldering gym.

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Jue Wen

Author

Jue Wen is the property analyst and content marketing lead at decoupling expertise.
He specialises in helping clients overcome the complexities involved in owning their second private property in Singapore.
He had over 10 years of experience in real estate investing and have written over 40 detail guides on decoupling and minimising ABSD. He is a licensed real estate consultant and holds a Bachelor degree in Business Management from the Nanyang Technological University.

Kenji

Co-Author

Kenji is the Group Division Director of ERA Realty Network.
He have got over 20 years of experience in real estate and have successfully helped over 50 couples purchased their second property. He specialises in helping client achieve the best approach towards acquiring their ideal investment properties while minimising ABSD.