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How to make a good property investment in Singapore

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Everything you need to know is included in our Singapore Property Pack

Whether you prefer a luxury condominium in the heart of Singapore's CBD, a stylish apartment in Sentosa Cove, or a high-yield rental property in the vibrant neighborhood of Orchard Road, Singapore offers a wide selection of real estate opportunities to suit your investment preferences.

However, making a property investment in this country can be challenging, especially with all the new laws and regulations involved.

We're committed to breaking down everything you need to know in a way that's easy to grasp, making it simpler for you. If you have any lingering questions, please feel free to get in touch with us.

Also, for a more detailed analysis, you can download our property pack for Singapore, made by our country expert and reviewed by locals.

How is investing in real estate in Singapore?

Is Singapore an attractive destination for property investment?

Singapore stands out as a magnet for property investment for several reasons, and understanding these can help you make informed decisions if you're considering investing there.

One of the key attractions of Singapore's real estate market is its dynamic nature.

A testament to this is the steady appreciation in property values over the years. For instance, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) reported a consistent rise in private residential property prices in recent years, highlighting the market's resilience and growth potential.

Historically, the Singapore real estate market has shown remarkable performance. Despite global economic fluctuations, the market has mostly remained robust, with occasional adjustments. For example, during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis and the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, Singapore’s property market did experience downturns.

However, it bounced back relatively quickly compared to many other regions, thanks to strong governmental measures and a stable economy.

In terms of investment choices, properties in central regions and prime locations, such as the Central Business District (CBD) and Orchard Road, have traditionally performed well, offering both capital appreciation and rental yield.

Residential properties, especially condominiums and high-end apartments, are popular among investors. The budget for these investments can vary, but premium properties in prime locations naturally command higher prices.

A unique aspect of Singapore's property market is the concept of leasehold properties, particularly the 99-year leasehold. This is a distinct feature where the ownership of the property reverts to the state upon the expiry of the lease.

This contrasts with many countries where freehold is the norm. Despite this, leasehold properties in Singapore are highly sought after due to their affordability and potential for appreciation.

When it comes to the safety and stability of investments, Singapore ranks high. The country is known for its political stability, strong legal system, and stringent laws against corruption. These factors contribute to a secure and predictable investment environment.

Moreover, Singapore’s strategic location as a hub in Southeast Asia also adds to its appeal as a gateway for investors looking to tap into the wider regional market.

Regarding language, while being conversant in the local languages (English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil) can be beneficial, it's not a necessity for property investment.

English is widely spoken and is the language of business, making it relatively straightforward for foreign investors to navigate the market.

What are the trends forecasts for the real estate market in Singapore?

Understanding the current trends and future projections for Singapore's real estate market requires a multifaceted approach, considering various factors like economic conditions, government policies, and market dynamics.

Singapore's housing market has been known for its resilience and robustness, often attributed to the country's strong economic fundamentals, strategic location, and stable political environment. In recent times, the market has experienced steady growth, driven by both local demand and significant interest from foreign investors.

However, it's also characterized by high property prices, making affordability a challenge for many residents.

Looking forward, several factors could influence the trajectory of the real estate market in Singapore.

Firstly, the global economic climate plays a crucial role. Singapore, being an open economy, is sensitive to global economic shifts. Economic recovery post-pandemic, inflation rates, and international trade dynamics can significantly impact investment trends and property prices.

Secondly, government policies and regulations are key influencers in the Singapore real estate market. The government has a history of intervening in the housing market to ensure stability and affordability.

Measures such as the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD) and the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) framework have been implemented to cool down the market and prevent speculative buying. Any changes or adjustments to these policies could either stimulate or dampen market activities.

Another aspect to consider is the supply and demand dynamics. Singapore's limited land space versus its growing population creates inherent pressure on housing demand. The government's efforts in releasing land for development and promoting new housing projects can help meet this demand, potentially stabilizing prices.

Technological advancements and sustainability trends are also reshaping the real estate landscape. As Singapore progresses towards its Smart Nation initiative, properties that incorporate smart technologies and sustainable features are likely to see increased demand. This trend could drive up prices for such properties.

Political stability and economic policies in Singapore are critical factors too. Being a hub for business and finance in Asia, any political turbulence or significant changes in economic policies could influence investor confidence, thereby affecting the real estate market.

Finally, it’s important to keep an eye on upcoming legislation or government initiatives that could impact the real estate sector. Policies related to housing affordability, land use, environmental sustainability, and foreign investment could have significant implications on the market dynamics.

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What types of property can you buy in Singapore? What are the prices and yields?

If you need a detailed and updated analysis of the prices, rents and yields, you can get our full guide about real estate investment in Singapore.

In Singapore, the property market offers a diverse range of investment options, each with its unique attributes and potential returns.

Understanding these options and their implications is key to making informed investment decisions.

Residential properties are a popular choice for investors in Singapore. These include condominiums, apartments, and landed properties like terraced houses and bungalows.

The average cost of residential properties in cities can vary widely, depending on location, size, and amenities. Prime areas like the Central Business District (CBD) and popular residential districts like Orchard Road and Marina Bay tend to command higher prices. As a rough estimate, prices in these prime locations can range from S$1,500 to S$3,000 per square foot or more.

Building a property in Singapore is possible, but it's a complex process that involves navigating various regulations and obtaining necessary approvals. The feasibility largely depends on the availability of land, which is scarce and often expensive in Singapore.

For most individual investors, buying and renovating existing properties is a more practical approach than building from scratch.

The ratio of renters to owners in Singapore is influenced by factors like housing policies, population density, and market trends.

While there's a substantial owner-occupier market, rental demand remains strong, particularly in areas close to business hubs and amenities. This demand is driven by both locals and a significant expatriate population.

Many investors in Singapore buy properties to let, attracted by the potential for rental income. The rental yield – the annual rental income as a percentage of the property's purchase price – varies. In general, rental yields in city areas range from 2% to 4%. Properties in prime locations or near MRT stations often fetch higher rents.

Tourism has a notable impact on the property market, especially concerning short-term rentals. Areas popular with tourists see heightened demand for short-term accommodations, which can drive up rental prices and yields in these locations.

However, regulations around short-term rentals in Singapore are stringent, and investors need to be aware of these when considering properties for this purpose.

Regarding resale, the Singapore property market is generally liquid, especially for well-located properties.

However, the ease of resale can depend on market conditions at the time of selling. Additionally, the Seller's Stamp Duty (SSD) applies to properties sold within a certain period after purchase, which can affect the decision to sell.

Typical holding periods for property investments in Singapore range from 3 to 10 years. Holding a property longer usually aligns with a strategy to capitalize on long-term capital appreciation. The prospects for capital gains vary based on location, property type, and market conditions.

Historically, prime locations have seen higher capital gains, but this is not a guaranteed outcome.

Which regions in Singapore offer the best investment opportunities?

Foreigners looking to buy property in Singapore often find themselves drawn to specific areas and types of properties based on a variety of factors.

Singapore, known for its robust economy, political stability, and high quality of life, attracts a diverse group of foreign investors and expatriates.

One primary reason foreigners invest in Singaporean property is for the potential capital appreciation and rental yield. The city-state's limited land space coupled with its growing economy makes it a lucrative market.

Generally, foreign buyers in Singapore include expatriates living in the country, investors from neighboring countries, and increasingly, affluent buyers from further afield such as Europe and the Middle East.

Regions that are budget-friendly yet offer good investment potential include areas like Punggol and Sengkang. These suburban areas have seen development in recent years, making them increasingly attractive for long-term investment.

They offer more affordable options compared to the city center while still providing good amenities and connectivity.

On the other hand, areas like the Core Central Region (CCR), which includes districts like Orchard, River Valley, and Marina Bay, are always in high demand. These areas are prestigious, centrally located, and offer high-end luxury properties.

While more expensive, they tend to attract a significant number of high-net-worth individuals looking for prime real estate.

Trending areas with growing popularity include the Rest of Central Region (RCR), which encompasses locations like Tanjong Pagar, Newton, and Bishan. These areas strike a balance between the exclusivity of the CCR and the affordability of the suburbs.

They are becoming increasingly popular due to their proximity to the city center, improved infrastructure, and a mix of residential options.

Looking into the future, areas like Paya Lebar and Jurong are predicted to see an increase in property prices and rental demand. The government's plans to transform Paya Lebar into a commercial hub and Jurong into a second Central Business District suggest significant growth potential.

However, there are regions that might be less attractive for investment. Areas that are prone to higher noise levels, such as those near industrial zones or under flight paths, may not be as desirable.

Additionally, regions with less developed infrastructure or limited access to public transportation might not see as much appreciation in property values.

Here is a summary table to help you visualize better. If you need more detailed data and information, please check our property pack for Singapore.

Area Description Investment Potential
Punggol and Sengkang Budget-friendly suburban areas with recent development. Good for long-term investment, affordable options with good amenities.
Core Central Region (CCR) Includes Orchard, River Valley, Marina Bay; prestigious and central. High demand, attracts high-net-worth individuals, prime luxury real estate.
Rest of Central Region (RCR) Encompasses Tanjong Pagar, Newton, Bishan; balance between exclusivity and affordability. Growing popularity, proximity to city center, diverse residential options.
Paya Lebar and Jurong Future commercial hub and second Central Business District. Predicted increase in property prices and rental demand.
Areas near industrial zones or under flight paths Prone to higher noise levels, less desirable. Lower investment attractiveness due to noise and other factors.
Regions with less developed infrastructure Limited access to public transportation and amenities. Potentially lower appreciation in property values.

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Who can invest in real estate in Singapore?

Investing in property as a foreigner in Singapore

Investing in housing property in Singapore as a foreigner comes with a set of rules and regulations that are different from those for local residents.

Understanding these nuances is crucial to navigating the property market in Singapore.

Firstly, when it comes to owning property, foreigners do not have the same rights as locals. The most significant restriction is on owning landed property, such as bungalows and terraced houses.

Generally, foreigners are not allowed to own landed properties in Singapore unless they obtain special approval from the Singapore Land Authority. This process involves a detailed application and is typically granted only under exceptional circumstances.

However, foreigners are allowed to purchase condominiums and apartments without needing this special approval. These types of properties are more accessible for foreign investors.

It's important to note that the country of origin of the foreigner does not typically influence the ability to purchase property in Singapore. The rules are generally uniform for all foreigners, regardless of their nationality.

Living in Singapore is not a prerequisite for owning property. Foreigners, even those not residing in the country or those on a tourist visa, can own property in Singapore. However, owning a property does not grant any residential status or long-term visa privileges.

Regarding the duration of property ownership, there are no restrictions on how long a foreigner can own property in Singapore.

You can hold onto your property as long as you wish, and it can be passed on to heirs or sold to another foreigner without additional restrictions. This aspect of property ownership in Singapore is quite straightforward and aligns with many international property markets.

Documentation is a critical part of the property buying process. Foreign buyers typically need to provide a valid passport and, in some cases, proof of income or financial capability.

A Tax ID is not usually required for the purchase itself, but it becomes relevant for tax purposes if you are generating rental income from the property.

Regarding governmental authorization, aside from the special approval needed for landed property, there isn't typically any other specific authorization required from government institutions for foreigners to buy property.

Having a local bank account is not mandatory for purchasing property, but it can simplify the transaction process, especially when dealing with regular payments like maintenance fees or taxes.

Payments for the property can often be made in foreign currencies, but it's more common and sometimes more practical to use Singapore Dollars (SGD), considering exchange rate fluctuations and transaction fees.

Finally, concerning tax rates, foreigners are subject to the same property tax rates as locals for owning property.

However, there are additional stamp duties for foreigners, which are higher than those for local residents. This includes the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD), which significantly increases the cost of purchasing property for foreigners.

Residency and investment in Singapore

In Singapore, purchasing property does not directly lead to residency.

The city-state has a clear distinction between property ownership and immigration status.

However, there is a program called the Global Investor Programme (GIP) which allows individuals to obtain Permanent Residency (PR) through investment, including real estate investments in specific areas.

Under the GIP, you must invest a substantial amount, typically millions of dollars, either in a new business entity or in expanding an existing business in Singapore.

Part of this investment can be in real estate, but it's important to note that this is not the sole or primary means to qualify for the GIP. The investment needs to contribute significantly to the economic growth of Singapore, which is why the government has strict criteria for the types of investments they consider under this program.

The exact steps to apply for residency through the GIP involve a detailed application process. You must provide a comprehensive business or investment plan, showing how your investment will benefit Singapore’s economy. This plan is scrutinized by the authorities to ensure it meets their criteria.

The minimum investment requirement is substantial, and it varies depending on the specific area or sector you plan to invest in. It’s essential to have a solid financial background and demonstrate that you have the means to make and sustain the investment.

The number of people who have used this scheme is not very high compared to other immigration routes, primarily due to the high investment threshold and stringent requirements.

Regarding the duration of residency obtained through this scheme, it grants you Permanent Residency (PR). As a Permanent Resident, you are entitled to live in Singapore indefinitely, as long as you renew your re-entry permit every five years.

However, PR status under the GIP comes with certain conditions, like fulfilling your investment commitments and spending a significant amount of time in Singapore.

Permanent Residency in Singapore can be a pathway to citizenship, but it's not automatic. After a number of years living as a Permanent Resident, you may apply for citizenship, but this is subject to approval by the government.

The process considers various factors, including your integration into Singaporean society, economic contributions, and adherence to the country's laws and values.

Remember, while owning property in Singapore can be part of your overall investment profile, it is not sufficient on its own to obtain residency.

The GIP route is complex and requires a significant financial commitment, as well as a strong business plan that aligns with the economic interests of Singapore.

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How to get started to invest in real estate in Singapore?

What is the step-by-step process to buy property in Singapore?

We'll give her a brief overview. However, there is a detailed and dedicated document to the buying process in our property pack for Singapore.

Buying a property in Singapore can be both exciting and complex, given the unique procedures and regulations involved.

The process typically starts with finding a property that you like. Once you've set your heart on a property, you'll make an offer to the seller. If your offer is accepted, the next step is the Option to Purchase (OTP), a legal agreement that gives you the exclusive right to buy the property within a stipulated time, usually 14 days. You'll need to pay an option fee for this, typically 1% of the purchase price.

Next comes the critical step of securing financing. Most buyers need a mortgage, and this is where it gets tricky. You'll have to navigate through various bank loan options, understand the terms, interest rates, and ensure that your loan does not exceed the Total Debt Servicing Ratio (TDSR) limit set by the government. This is often the most challenging part, as it involves a lot of financial planning and understanding of complex banking terms.

Once your loan is approved, you'll exercise the OTP by signing the Sale & Purchase Agreement and paying a down payment, usually 5% of the purchase price. This is followed by a series of administrative steps, like paying the Buyer's Stamp Duty, which can be quite hefty, and additional legal paperwork. These steps, while straightforward, require attention to detail to avoid any costly errors.

An interesting aspect of buying property in Singapore is the presence of the Buyer’s Stamp Duty and Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, which vary depending on your citizenship status and the number of properties you own. This is something not commonly found in other countries and can significantly affect the overall cost of purchasing a property.

The entire process, from finding a house to getting the keys, can take several months. The most time-consuming part is usually securing a mortgage and the legal conveyancing process. The latter involves a lot of paperwork and legal formalities, which can be daunting and time-consuming.

Regarding language, while it's beneficial to know English or Mandarin (widely spoken languages in Singapore), it's not absolutely necessary. Many property agents and legal professionals are multilingual and can help bridge any language gaps. However, understanding the language can certainly make the process smoother and help you better understand the intricacies of your property purchase.

Culturally, Singapore is quite straightforward in terms of property transactions. However, one cultural aspect that might play a role is the belief in Feng Shui.

Some sellers or buyers might want to consult a Feng Shui master before finalizing a deal, which could influence the decision-making process.

Looking for property in Singapore

Please note that there is a list of contacts (real estate agencies, lawyers, notaries, etc.) and websites in our pack of documents related to the real estate market in Singapore.

In Singapore, searching for a house involves a mix of modern and traditional methods.

A popular starting point is online housing portals. Websites like PropertyGuru,, and SRX are widely used for their extensive listings and user-friendly interfaces. These platforms allow you to filter properties by location, price, size, and other preferences. They also provide valuable market insights, price trends, and other useful information to guide your search.

Real estate agents also play a significant role in the property search. Many buyers prefer working with agents due to their expertise and knowledge of the local market. Agents often have access to listings that might not be widely advertised and can provide tailored options based on your requirements. In Singapore, it's quite common for agents to network and share listings, broadening the range of available properties.

Social media and local forums are also used, though to a lesser extent. Facebook groups and online community forums can be sources for property listings, tips, and advice from locals. While these can be useful, they often lack the comprehensiveness and reliability of dedicated housing portals or professional agents.

Working with a real estate agent is highly recommended in Singapore, especially if you're unfamiliar with the market. However, not all agents are equally reliable. Red flags include a lack of proper licensing (you can check their credentials with the Council for Estate Agencies, CEA), poor communication, pressure to make quick decisions, or unclear explanations of fees and charges. A good agent should be transparent, knowledgeable, and have a solid track record.

Buyers can access property listings directly through online portals, but agents can offer a curated list of properties that match your specific needs. They can also provide insights and advice that are not apparent from listings alone.

In Singapore, there are differences between a buyer's agent and a seller's agent. The seller's agent works for the seller and aims to get the best possible deal for them, while the buyer's agent represents your interests as a buyer. They can help negotiate prices, handle paperwork, and guide you through the purchasing process.

Real estate agent commissions in Singapore are not standardized and can vary. It's important to discuss and agree on the commission rates before engaging an agent. Typically, the seller pays the commission for both the buyer's and seller's agents. This is usually factored into the sale price of the property.

When dealing with real estate agents, good negotiation strategies include clearly communicating your needs and budget, being firm but polite about your preferences, and not hesitating to ask questions or for clarifications.

Remember, a good agent should work with your best interests in mind and should be willing to negotiate on your behalf.

Buying property in Singapore

When buying a house in Singapore, negotiation is quite a common practice.

The extent to which you can negotiate the price depends largely on the current market conditions, the property's location, and its demand. Buyers often start by offering around 5% to 10% below the asking price. This is not a fixed rule, though, and varies significantly. Conducting thorough market research to understand the prices of comparable properties in the area is crucial.

Additionally, an experienced real estate agent can be a valuable asset in this process, providing insights into the market and assisting in the negotiation.

Conducting due diligence is a critical part of purchasing property in Singapore. A key aspect of this is performing a title search to verify the seller's ownership and to ensure there are no encumbrances or legal issues with the property. This is typically done through the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), which maintains a registry of property records. A title search will reveal the property’s ownership history, existing mortgages, liens, or other encumbrances.

While hiring a lawyer or notary is not mandatory in Singapore for property transactions, it is highly advisable. A lawyer will handle the legal aspects of your purchase, including conducting the title search, drafting and reviewing the purchase agreement, and ensuring all legal requirements are met. The cost for legal services can vary, but generally, it involves a few thousand Singapore dollars, depending on the transaction's complexity.

The necessary documents for purchasing property include the Option to Purchase (OTP), which is the preliminary agreement that reserves the property for the buyer, and the Sale & Purchase Agreement, which is the main contract detailing the sale terms and conditions. If a mortgage is involved, there will be additional loan documents. These documents are typically prepared and provided by the seller or their agent, and your lawyer will review them to ensure they are correct and complete.

The final step in the home-buying process is the official transfer and registration of property ownership. After finalizing the sale and completing all payments, your lawyer will lodge a transfer document with the SLA, officially transferring the property title from the seller to you.

The property is then registered in your name in the Land Titles Registry, cementing your legal ownership.

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Financing a property in Singapore

For foreign investors looking to finance property investments in Singapore, the process can be more complex compared to local buyers, but it’s certainly feasible.

Typically, foreign buyers can obtain loans from Singaporean banks, but the eligibility criteria and terms might be stricter compared to local residents. This is partly due to the higher risk perceived by banks in lending to non-residents.

When it comes to paying for the property, the process usually starts with a deposit. Upon deciding to purchase a property and agreeing on the price, you will be required to pay an Option to Purchase (OTP) fee. This fee, which is typically 1% of the purchase price, secures your exclusive right to purchase the property. After the OTP is exercised, which must be done within the option period (usually 14 days), you are then required to pay the remaining amount of the down payment, which brings the total initial payment to 5% of the purchase price.

This payment is usually made before the signing of the purchase agreement.

Regarding loans, while foreigners do often obtain them, the process can be more challenging. Loan-to-Value (LTV) ratios for foreigners are typically lower, meaning you would need to pay a larger down payment compared to local buyers. The average interest rates for housing loans in Singapore fluctuate based on economic conditions and can be slightly higher for foreigners.

The total deposit required to buy a property in Singapore can vary. For foreign buyers, expect to pay a larger down payment – it could range from 20% to 40% of the total sale value. This is significantly higher than the requirement for local residents.

Regarding closing costs and fees, there are several to consider. The Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD) is a tax paid on the purchase of property, and for foreigners, there's an additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD), which is considerably higher. The exact percentage depends on various factors, including whether it’s your first property in Singapore and your residency status. There's also the legal fee for conveyancing, which can vary depending on the complexity of the transaction and the lawyer you choose.

Property tax rates in Singapore are based on the annual value of the property, and these rates can vary. For non-owner-occupied properties, which would typically be the case for foreign investors, the rates are higher than for owner-occupied residences. Capital gains tax is not levied in Singapore, which is a favorable aspect for property investors. However, if you sell your property within a certain period after purchasing it, you might be subject to Seller’s Stamp Duty (SSD).

Other additional fees can include mortgage stamp duty, loan application fees, and, if you’re buying a resale property, a valuation fee.

It’s essential to account for all these costs when budgeting for your property investment in Singapore.

What are the risks and pitfalls when buying property in Singapore?

Property investment in Singapore, like any investment, comes with its set of risks, and it's important for foreign investors to be aware of these.

One of the primary risks involves market fluctuations. The property market in Singapore can be volatile, influenced by both local and global economic factors. Prices can fluctuate significantly, affecting the potential return on investment. Additionally, regulatory changes, such as adjustments in stamp duties or loan-to-value (LTV) ratios, can impact the market and your investment.

When it comes to property rights for foreigners, Singapore is generally considered secure. The legal framework is robust, and property rights are well protected. However, there are certain restrictions and additional costs for foreigners, such as the Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty (ABSD), which can significantly increase the initial investment cost.

There are also pitfalls unique to the Singapore market that foreign investors might not be aware of. Firstly, the concept of leasehold properties is critical. A significant portion of the real estate in Singapore is leasehold, typically with 99-year leases. This means you don't own the property indefinitely. As the lease shortens, the value of the property might depreciate, which is a crucial factor to consider when investing.

Secondly, the cooling measures implemented by the government to prevent property bubbles can be a pitfall. These measures, such as increasing stamp duties or tightening loan requirements, are designed to stabilize the market but can catch foreign investors off guard, especially if they're used to more stable regulatory environments.

Regarding environmental risks, Singapore is relatively safe. The risk of natural disasters like earthquakes or severe flooding is low. However, climate change implications, particularly rising sea levels, could become a concern in the long term, potentially affecting coastal properties.

Case studies of foreign investment failures often revolve around a lack of understanding of the market dynamics and regulatory environment. There have been instances where foreign investors entered the market at a peak, only to see the value of their investments decline due to market cooling measures or economic downturns.

Insurance is an important consideration for property owners. In Singapore, while there's no legal requirement for property insurance, it's highly advisable to protect your investment. Insurance options vary, including coverage for building, contents, and liability. Liability concerns, particularly if you're renting out the property, can be mitigated with adequate insurance coverage.

To mitigate these risks, investors should conduct thorough market research, understand the regulatory environment, and consider long-term trends. It’s also advisable to consult with local real estate experts and legal advisors.

In case of conflicts or legal disputes, foreign property buyers are protected under Singapore's legal system, which is known for its efficiency and impartiality. The legal protections in place are reliable, and foreign investors have access to legal recourse through the courts.

Additionally, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre provides an avenue for resolving commercial disputes, including those related to real estate.

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This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Readers are advised to consult with a qualified professional before making any investment decisions. We do not assume any liability for actions taken based on the information provided.