Choosing a Real Estate Agent in Singapore as a Foreign Buyer

Singapore is a hotbed in the real estate world these days, and rightly so. The country isn’t only among the most developed ones in South Asia, but the world as well.  An economy on the rise, a growing number of expats, a positive outlook and so many other reasons have made Singapore shine in the eyes of so many foreign investors. You, along with so many others, keenly look out for properties from an investment point of view. But before you make a purchase, you definitely require a real estate agent in Singapore to help you traverse through the process.

Selecting the right real estate agent in Singapore is important, but when you are a foreign buyer, it becomes even more important. You reside overseas most of the time, so you should find someone who is an expert in the field, can show you the best properties during your short stay and help you close the deal really quickly, without any loopholes that is.   Even when the transactions are completed, your relationship with the agent doesn’t end, because they’ll be the ones who help you find tenants, look after maintenance, ensure rents are received in a timely manner, and in general terms, play the role of a property manager.

So how can you ensure that you’ve selected the best property agent in Singapore for yourself? Here is some advice that can help you out.

Make sure you are dealing with a licenced real estate agent  in Singapore

Every real estate agent in Singapore has to be licensed under the Council for Estate agent. So before engaging with them, make sure that they hold a valid license.  You can check the validity of a real estate agent licence on CEA Public Register

Say “No” to part time real estate agents

Many real estate agents in Singapore start in the industry as a part time  property agent while holding another full time job, so you may come across plenty of them when you conduct a research. For the locals, these agents may do a fine job, but not when you are foreign investor. Most of the foreign investors usually stay a short period when searching for property. Your time is already limited so why hire someone who can only give you two to three hours a day? Instead, you should hire a full time real estate agent in Singapore who can work with you around the clock, and make sure you close the deal quickly.

Also part time real estate agents are just amateurs, and often won’t be experienced enough to offer you advice on foreign real estate investment, or have sufficient market knowledge to help you make a good decision. So, in order to avoid hassles of any sort, you would be better off hiring a full time real estate agent in Singapore.

Go through reviews and testimonials

Check out the websites of potential real estate agents, and ensure that their range of services can cater to all your needs. Also read their testimonials so as to get an idea how their past clients perceive them.

Go through social media, online forums and other review websites and see how others have rated their services. Note their degree of satisfaction, and if you can, strike up a conversation with some of them to get a better idea.  You can then base your decision on the opinions that you hear from the real estate agent’s past clients.

Check out testimonials from our happy clients here

Ensure that they are well versed in the real estate laws

Real estate agents should be aware of all the laws, especially the ones that are related to foreign investment. As a foreign investor, you can’t buy landed residences in Singapore; however, commercial property and condos are alternative options you can indeed go for. You can also invest in residential properties. However, if you are interested in purchasing a terrace house, bungalow or detached house, vacant residential land or some other properties, you’ll need approval from Land Dealings Approval Unit of Singapore Land Authority.

So whomever you choose as your agent, they should be well aware of all the rules and regulations that apply, and accordingly, help you pick the right investment property.

Select real estate agents who have a history of working with foreign investors

This is probably one of the most important selection criteria. Choosing a real estate agent in Singapore who is a newbie in foreign investment can actually be disastrous.  Working with the locals and the foreigners is so different. Hiring a property agent in Singapore who has already had experience with foreign buyers would be an added advantage for you. They’d ensure that the properties they show you meet your requirements while maximizing your future returns.

Foreign investment laws vary somewhat, as we have already explained, but that isn’t the only reason why your real estate agent in Singapore should have worked with foreign investors in the past.

Generally, most of the citizens own at least one property in Singapore, so there are hardly any Singaporeans who rent homes and apartments. Why invest then? Because this country is filled up with expats, and only an experienced real estate agent in Singapore can tell you the locations, neighborhoods and the sort of properties they prefer the most. Obviously, if you invest in an area that is popular among expats, you can enjoy a better return on your investment.

Go with a real estate agent in Singapore who offers an array of services

Once again, when you are a foreign investor, you would not be staying in Singapore, and would only be in the country for a short period, maybe once a year and maybe once in a few years. What about the tenants then? Who would deal with them? This is exactly why you should hire a property agent in Singapore who not only helps you find the property, but also manages your tenants down the road.

The chosen agent should be an expert in handling tenant complaints and other property matters. Search for a real estate agent in Singapore who offers additional services like rental property management, and landlord letting service – they are the ones you should hire.

Consider the rates for finding and managing tenants

When an agent finds a property for you, you don’t have to pay any commission to them as a buyer. But you would have to pay certain charges if they search tenants for you, and carry out other property management tasks on your behalf. For the former service, the rates are usually not negotiable; the same standard applies throughout the industry. However, you can negotiate fees for services that involve handling tenants’ complaints, maintenance and other related matters.  The rates are between 3% and 10% depending on the property type and the duties that they would carry out for you. But some agents may not charge you a penny if you buy your investment property through them.

At CENTURY 21 Property Agent Singapore, we offer property maintenance services, handle tenant’s complaints and other related service at no cost to foreign clients who bought a property with us.  Click here to learn more.

Let us help

CENTURY 21 Property Agent Singapore has been in the real estate business for more than 16 years. Having a track record of working with foreign buyers, we can make sure that you get the best possible deal. And for foreigner buying their investment property with us, we offer free after-sale services to our valuable clients. Click here for more information.

Author: Nic Ee

Nic is the Executive Director and Key Executive Officer (KEO) of CENTURY 21 Property Agent Singapore Pte Ltd. Nic starts his real estate career in 1995. He focuses in providing real estate services specifically to international high net-worth individuals and corporate clients. His expertise includes luxury home finding, property investment planning & acquisition, managing buy to let property, expat home finding and tenant representation for office space.

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