Buying a house in Singapore: What you need to know when getting a property with your foreign spouse

buying a house in singapore

Buying a house in Singapore: What you need to know when getting a property with your foreign spouse

Buying a new home with your partner is one of many steps in watching the grand dreams for your relationship come true. Your new home is where you’ll build memories as a couple for the rest of your life. But it also marks a whole new bunch of property questions and “what ifs”, especially if you want to buy a house in Singapore with a foreign spouse.

From navigating a home loan in Singapore to choosing the suitable unit for you and your partner, it’s the decisions you make now that will impact you in the years to come. 

There are also some limitations in Singapore when it comes to the home buying process, where one is not Singaporean.

So before you begin your journey towards the biggest decision of your lives, know what you’re working with! 

As a mortgage broker in Singapore, we’d like to give you some quick pointers on what to know when getting a property with your foreign spouse. 

You can buy an HDB house, but not all BTOs when you buy a house in Singapore

If you’re a Singaporean with a foreign spouse, you can apply for a Built-To-Order (BTO) home. But you won’t have the same options that you’d have if you were a Singaporean couple. 

In fact, the limitations might throw you off of considering a BTO home completely if you’re planning to have a larger family in the years to come. 

As opposed to the usual range of sizing options that Singaporean couples would have, you can only apply for 2-room flexi BTOs or resale flats under the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme. 

Beyond that, you won’t be able to apply for BTO homes larger than 2-room flexi flats. 

With that said, you can consider a resale home or an EC instead. If you need help deciding, read our article sharing our considerations when deciding whether you can afford an EC.

The application process has some complexities when you buy a house in Singapore

As a rule of thumb, having a foreign spouse in Singapore means your application process will defer slightly. 

Of the two of you, the Singaporean should be listed as the main applicant. The non-Singaporean, on the other hand, will be listed as an occupier of the home, and not a co-applicant. 

In this case, the non-Singaporean of the two of you will be classified as such in the home buying process, as long as you’re of foreign nationality and are not a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR).

Keep this table handy for some of the potential scenarios you might encounter when buying a new home, and how this might affect your eligibility for homes and your ownership. 

Stages in ApplicationBuying a New FlatBuying a Resale Flat
CitizenshipMain applicant must be a Singapore Citizen (SC)Main applicant must be a Singapore Citizen (SC)
OwnershipThe non-citizen spouse must be listed in the application as an occupierThe non-citizen spouse must be listed in the application as an occupier
Flat Types You’re Eligible For2-room flexi BTO from HDBAll HDB flat types and sizes sold on the open property market
Age of ApplicantsAn SC applying must be 35 and older.

In addition, the non-citizen spouse must have a valid Visit Pass or Work Pass.
If SC is 21 years and older: the non-citizen spouse must have a valid Long Term Visit Pass or Work Pass at the time of application.

The pass must have a validity period of at least 6 months from the date of issue.

If SC is 35 years and older: the non-citizen spouse must have a valid Visit Pass or Work Pass. There is no requirement of a validity period.

Where grants are concerned, you’re eligible for the same ones as singles when you buy a house in Singapore

A couple looking at the property grants they are eligible for in Singapore

Singaporean couples have plenty to benefit from in the form of grants when they buy a new house. 

It’s a big part of the reason why an acceptable proposal between a Singaporean couple might go like this: “Dear, want to BTO with me?”

But if you have a foreign spouse, things won’t go the same way. But that doesn’t mean you’ve got no grants available to you. For example, you can apply for the Enhanced CPF Housing Grant (EHG) (Singles) under the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme, provided you meet the requirements.

First of all, your gross household monthly income (yours and your spouse’s), when divided by two, should not exceed $4,500. 

You must both also have been employed 12 months before and at the point of flat application. 

You should also take note that you won’t be eligible for the grant if you or your spouse own any property, whether locally or overseas. 

If you do, you must have disposed of any such properties at least 30 months before you apply for your new flat. 

The restrictions for this home also extend to the property you’re buying. The remaining lease left on your new flat must be 20 years or more. If the lease remaining isn’t long enough to cover the youngest of the two of you up till the age of 95, the EHG will be prorated.

If you’re wondering how much grant you’ll receive, it depends on how much you’re both earning. 

Half of Your Average Monthly Household Income Amount You’ll Get in EHG (Singles)
Not more than $750$40,000
$751 to $1,000$37,500
$1,001 to $1,250$35,000
$1,251 to $1,500$32,500
$1,501 to $1,750$30,000
$1,751 to $2,000$27,500
$2,001 to $2,250$25,000
$2,251 to $2,500$22,500
$2,501 to $2,750$20,000
$2,751 to $3,000$17,500
$3,001 to $3,250$15,000
$3,251 to $3,500$12,500
$3,501 to $3,750$10,000
$3,751 to $4,000$7,500
$4,001 to $4,250$5,000
$4,251 to $4,500$2,500

Evidently, the amount doesn’t scale as generously as it does with couples. 

If your foreign spouse is planning to apply for PR status, it might be a good idea to wait for the application status to return and avail yourself of CPF Housing Grants that can take a lot of the financial strain off.

There’s also an alternative measure when you want to buy a house in Singapore… But it involves starting a family.

 Image of a Singapore family

If you don’t want to find yourself bound by the restrictions of the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme, there is something you can do. 

If you have plans to start a family, then you might be happy to know that having a child with your foreign spouse could help you out a little.

If the child is Singaporean or SPR, you can apply for a home under the HDB Public Scheme, because you’ve formed a family nucleus. 

This will allow you to buy BTO homes that are bigger than 2-room flexi units. 

While the Non-Citizen Spouse Scheme is available to you if you’re a Singaporean marrying a foreign spouse, its limitations are clear. 

And in some cases, the lack of grants you’re entitled to might make it feel like you’re single in your application. 

But on the plus side, you won’t have to wait till you’re 35 to build a home with your foreign spouse. 

Make the best financial decisions when you buy a house in Singapore

Arguably, buying a new home in Singapore if you or your partner are not Singaporean can be very expensive

To lighten the load and have a smooth financial journey, the next best thing you can do after learning what you can afford is to make sure you have a good home loan in Singapore

Where home loans are concerned, you’ll be able to apply for either an HDB loan or a bank loan if at least one buyer is Singaporean. 

Depending on whether you take an HDB loan or a bank loan, you’ll be dealing with different pros and cons. Other tips and tricks, such as refinancing, can help you save a substantial amount of money in the future.

Learn more about home loan refinancing here

READ: 5 questions to ask before making a home loan refinance decision

Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Singapore is a lovely place to build a new future with your spouse and to build a new family too. So if you need advice or a listening ear regarding the financial aspects of the home buying process, we’re happy to help. 

As mortgage brokers in Singapore, we want to help make sure that the details do not bog you down and that you can live your best life! 

When you’re buying a new home, make every aspect of it the best decision of your life. 

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