top of page

Important Considerations for Singaporeans Looking to Invest in Overseas Properties

Source: SMDC Sail Residences in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines

Billionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie once said: “Ninety percent of all millionaires become so through owning real estate. More money has been made in real estate than in all industrial investments combined. The wise young man or wage earner of today invests his money in real estate.”

This is the reason why the Singapore Property Market is still very resilient despite the on-going COVID-19 pandemic and the current recession. But with local property prices showing no signs of slowing down, many Singaporeans are looking at overseas properties as a form of investment. Overseas properties could also provide a source for family holidays or as a retirement home.

Even though some countries like the Philippines are friendly towards foreign investment, there are still significant challenges faced when investing in overseas properties. We look at some factors that you need to be considered carefully before you venture into the overseas property markets.

Developer’s Reputation

Reviewing a developer’s reputation is very important. You should start by checking out it’s track record of successful and quality projects. You should also check to ensure that a developer’s balance sheet is sound and able to withstand crisis and pandemics. Otherwise you may end up with a useless plot of land and find that your investment is worthless.

Local Tax and Property Laws

Different countries have their own set of tax laws and legislation. In certain countries, you may be subject to stamp duty, land tax, title transfer tax etc. As this is a very complicated subject, it is best to engage professionals in the respective fields and not rely on information provided by real estate agents, who may not be equipped to provide answers to questions on these topics.

For a start, read up on the local tax and property laws and engage a conveyancing lawyer and a reputable real estate agency/agent to guide you through the procedures.

Currency Risk

The uncertainty of fluctuating exchange rates can affect the value of your overseas property or rental income as they are based off against the Singapore dollar. For example, if you are thinking of investing in a property in the United States, that property will be valued in US$. Therefore, you should safeguard against any dramatic swing of the US$ against the SG$.

Research the Location And Amenities

Everyone knows investing in property is all about location, location and location. For liability and rentability, nearby amenities are also very important. Do a research into the location, transport links, and nearby amenities. This is important whether you plan on living in the property or renting it out. If you are buying a holiday home for rental purposes, be sure to research off-peak periods as that will result in slower demand and affect rental income during that period.

Obtain an Independent Valuation

It is best to engage a local and independent property valuer to determine the true value of the property you are looking to invest in. Many investors are reluctant to do this due to cost and logistical challenges or whatever reasons. But this is a small sum of money to pay to protect a much bigger investment and worth the inconvenience of appointing a overseas valuer.

Land Title and Ownership

If you are not very familiar with a country, it can be quite difficult to trust real estate marketers and property agents. This means that you must be extremely careful when discussing issues such as land title and ownership, especially as any debt that exists on a property may be passed onto you once the transaction has been completed. If a developer has previously borrowed money to complete the work and not repaid this, for example, you may be liable for the repayment and any affiliated charges as the new owner.

Keeping the Property Safe in Your Absence

Whether you are buying a holiday home or investing for higher returns, you probably would not be present there all the time. It is likely that the property may be vacant and unoccupied for a period of time. The important thing is to ensure that your investment is well-protected and the best way of doing this is to engage a local property management firm. They can make regular visits, thus ensuring that the property is safe, cleaned and maintained. There maybe additional costs involved but this is a good way to safeguard your investment.

When and How to Exit?

For whatever reasons, sometimes you need to divest your investment in a hurry and therefore, you will need and plan for a suitable contingency plan and exit strategy. This will help to minimize inconveniences and mitigate any potential financial setbacks. Engage a reputable real estate agency to market the property if need be but you need to closely monitor the global real estate market and economic trends, as these factors will determine your need to change investment strategy and exit options.

Looking to invest in overseas properties? has got listings in properties such as the US, Malaysia, etc. Check out the properties here.


bottom of page