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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Tay

Four things to consider before buying a landed property

Updated: Mar 24, 2020

Recently, my client, Mrs Tan, asked me if she should get a landed property. She is thinking of getting a bigger house for her family and is contemplating between a landed property and a large condominium unit.

This is a question many people ask themselves when they are thinking of upgrading their property or are ready to invest in their dream home!

URA price indices for landed vs non-landed private homes over time
URA price indices for landed vs non-landed private homes over time

Investing in a landed property is an appealing option to many as the supply of landed homes are limited. Landed properties only consist of approximately 1.5 percent of the total housing stock, a small supply compared to non-landed properties which comprise approximately 98.5 percent.

From Q4 2008 to Q2 2018, the complete supply of landed homes rose 5.8 percent, from 68,761 units to 72,761units. However, the complete supply of non-landed homes went up by around 69 percent from 172,443 units to 291,534 units over a similar period.

Number of non- landed homes supply versus landed homes supply over a 9 year period
Source: Department of Statistics Singapore

There will be limited supply of landed properties in Singapore due to the limited amount of land space available. Hence, an oversupply of landed properties in Singapore is highly unlikely.

In fact, given the land scarcity in Singapore, demand for landed homes in Singapore will continue to rise over the long term.

Landed and non landed price index comparison
Source: Department of Statistics Singapore

After some consideration, if you have made up your mind and decided that investing in a landed property is the right decision for you, there are some factors that you should consider. We will look at four things that you should consider carefully.

Strata landed properties will not be included in this article as the main focus will be on those properties that have their own title deeds.


Not everyone can invest in a landed property in Singapore even if you have the means! This is what makes a landed property more exclusive as compared to other private property.

Landed Houses are considered restricted properties in Singapore. Ownership is only limited to Singaporeans. 

Under the Residential Property Act, as foreigner, you can't purchase and possess landed properties, with the exception of properties in Sentosa. Only Singapore PR can apply through the Residential Property Act by sending in their application to the Land Dealings Approval Unit to appeal their case if they want to purchase a landed property.

Approval is on a case to case basis. As for good class bungalows which are over 15,000sqft, only Singaporeans are allowed to own one. There is no exception.

A GCB with a swimming pool
A GCB with a swimming pool

Besides all landed properties in Singapore with the exception of Sentosa, the Residential Property Act goes further to list the following items that cannot be purchased by non- Singaporeans.

The items include vacant residential land, strata landed house which is not within an approved condominium development ,shophouse (those not used for commercial purposes), premises for associations and Places of worship etc.

Hence it is indeed a special privilege for a Singaporean to own a piece of landed property even if it is a small one!


Landed properties comes with leasehold or freehold tenure, just like all other properties. The tenure can be 99 years, 999 years or freehold.

About 10 percent of all landed properties are leasehold while the remaining 90 percent of are freehold.

Buy land, they're not making it anymore. Mark Twain

Landed homes that comes with a freehold or a 999-year leasehold tenure is an asset that you can safely use as a hedge against inflation in the long run.These landed homes will rarely depreciate in value and if you hold it over a long period of time, they will be a great asset that you can even hand over to the next generation.

The price of a leasehold landed is significantly more affordable than a freehold one so for those that want to live in a landed property and enjoy the space that comes with one and do not want to pay a high price for it, this is an option for them.


In my opinion, this is one of the most exciting thing about buying a landed property! Each landed property is different and has it own charm and uniqueness. Even for those houses with similar facade, each individual property is unique.

As a buyer, you have to decide what your plans are because that will affect the condition of the house you buy.

a landed property in its original condition built in the 1960s
A landed property in its original condition built in the 1960s

Do you want to buy a really old house, demolish it totally and build your dream home? Can you handle the stress of starting everything from scratch? Or, would you prefer to reconstruct the house or just do a simple renovation?

The main difference between rebuilding and reconstruction is that reconstruction is essentially changing the layout or the structure of the building without demolishing the whole building.

Reconstruction basically alludes to circumstances wherein there is an expansion in the property's gross floor territory (GFA) surpassing half of the current GFA. For example, a specific single story unit will have an extra second story.

A semi- detached house that is rebuilt
A semi- detached house that is rebuilt

As reconstruction does not entails the whole demolition of the building, the cost is lesser then total rebuilding and you can still achieve basically what you want!

Finally, if you are happy with the house and just want to do a minor renovation, that will be under A&A ( Addition and Alteration)works. A&A is considered to be minor works and they should not increase the home’s total floor area by more than 50%.

The foundation and structure of a property must not be affected by these minor renovations which includes changes to the roof, floor tiles, repainting, additions of ceiling and partition,  changing the floor tiles in the kitchen and renovating the toilets.

Do take note that if you buy an old house, although you can probably get one for a much cheaper price then the newly, renovated ones in the same neighbourhood, you need to take into consideration the cost of rebuilding, reconstruction or renovation depending on your needs and decision. The cost of it can be quite hefty at the end of the day!

Do your sums carefully!

For those that have no patience to build a house from scratch or simply do not have the time, you can buy a brand new landed house from the owners who have reconstructed their house or boutique developers who have redeveloped some old houses. All you need is to bring your luggage!

The good thing about buying a brand new house is everything is done for you. That can also be a bad thing for some people as you basically do not have much say in the layout and design of your house.

Buying a landed house gives you the option to rebuild, reconstruct, or renovate. However, if the task of rebuilding, reconstructing or renovating is too daunting for you, you can consider buying a new or almost new house that requires little to no work.

Do consider carefully before making your decision .


There are a few types of landed properties that you can consider. The smallest is a terrace house. Next we have semi detached houses, detached houses and the most exclusive is the GCB (good class bungalows) where there are only 2000 over units in Singapore.

A terrace house is the most affordable of landed houses.Terrace houses are a part of a row of at least three units according to URA guidelines.The middle units share party walls with their neighbours on both sides.

They must have a minimum plot size of 80sqm or approximately 862sqft. The corner terrace houses tend to be bigger and are only attached to one other neighbour, like a semi-detached house.

Semi-detached houses are a pair of houses built side by side, sharing a common wall known as a party wall. In their original condition, they are actually mirror image of each other.

However, a lot of owners have rebuilt or reconstructed their houses so it is not uncommon these days to see a pair of semi -detached houses that look very different from each other.

Semi-Ds must have a minimum plot size of 200 sqm, or approximately 2,160 sqft.

Corner terrace houses are can also be considered semi-detached houses as they share only one party wall.

A detached house is also known as a bungalow. They do not share a wall or roof with their neighbours. They have to be a minimum plot size of 400 sqm or 4,360 sqft. Detach houses can be built as a single storey, 2 storeys or more.

Black and white colonial bungalows are included as detached houses in Singapore.

2 Brand New Detached houses
2 Brand New Detached houses

GCB or good class bungalow, is the most exclusive of all the landed properties.

As stated in URA guidelines, GCBs must have a minimum plot size of 15,070 sqft or 1,400sqm (15,070sqft).

Generally, the built up size is approximately 10,000sqft. Usually, there is a generous car porch space, a good size garden as well as a pool. GCBs are found in specific designated areas and is usually found in Prime districts (9,10,11)


In conclusion, the first thing before you commit to a landed property is to check your eligibility. After that, decide on the tenure as the price varies quite significantly between a leasehold and freehold landed property.

Finally, choose the type of landed house and decide if you want to buy an old one and build your desired home or go with a newer one or even a brand new one!

If you would like to find out more, please feel free to contact me for a non obligatory 90 min free consultation at 96658596

Having a keen interest and passion in real estate led Caroline to join the real estate industry. An investor herself since 2006, Caroline is constantly learning and upgrading herself through courses and seminars so that she is able to provide meaningful insights to her clients and to help them successfully manage and restructure their portfolios in the ever- changing market conditions.

Caroline strives to be honest, transparent and professional in all her real estate dealings with her clients. She understands that clients need to work with someone they trust, as they will be entrusting their valuable assets to that person. She is known to be trustworthy and reliable and will ensure that her clients’ interests are protected always.

With a strong commitment to client satisfaction and with the support of her teammates from Navis Living Group (Orange Tee and Tie) , she is confident that she will be able to share her experiences and knowledge to assist her clients in making the best decisions for their real estate needs so that they can achieve their desired real estate goals.

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