Due to its shortage of housing, high quality education institutes and booming property market, UK property has long been a popular investment for Singaporean investors. But what properties can Singaporeans buy? And what are the rules regarding UK property investement for Singaporeans ?
Restrictions on Property Ownership
There are no restrictions on foreign investors buying property in the United Kingdom. However, there are specific differences between the purchase process and taxes in each of the different four countries in the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales). This Buyer Guide is focused on the countries of England and Wales which share the same taxes and real estate market rules.
The majority of large developers in the UK have committed to market London developments domestically before any global sales and marketing campaign can take place. However, as the majority of purchasers in the UK are owner occupiers, the reality is most do not commit to purchase until much closer to completion. As such, the reality is that this early domestic marketing is more to tick a box rather than achieve significant volume of early sales.
All purchasers, both domestic and foreign must satisfy are Anti Money Laundering (AML) Checks. Under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, as part of the customer due diligence measures, those individuals purchasing property must be identified by obtaining the given and family name, date of birth and residential address as a minimum. The identity evidence must have been issued by a recognised body, for example a Government department, that has secured identity proofing measures with the customer’s full name and photo, with a customer’s date of birth or residential address such as a valid passport, driving licence or a national identity card.
Due diligence checks are carried out on all purchasers and beneficial owners and are required to establish whether there are any beneficial owners on whose behalf the transaction or activity is taking place. The source or destination of funds will also be requested.
Under UK law, it is not only the purchaser’s solicitor who must carry out AML (Anti Money Laundering checks) but also the property agent selling the property, who must conduct these checks at the point when an offer to purchase a property is accepted. In many circumstances this will be carried out by a third party on behalf of the property agent.
The UK does not offer citizenship or residency through the purchase of property. However, the UK encourages inward investment and has an Investor Visa for those wishing to reside in the UK. This program is known as the Tier 1 (Investor) Visa, details are set out below.
Tier 1 Investor Visa
For those looking to reside in the UK, The Tier 1 (Investor) visa scheme is designed for individuals looking to relocate to the UK from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland. These individuals must have access to a minimum of £2 million in investment funds in order to apply and meet the other eligibility requirements.
Investors must have money of their own, under their own control, held in a regulated financial institution and is disposable in the UK not less than £2 million, and the funds must be held as either cash in the bank or investments. However, this money cannot include the value of any property or real estate, or an estimate of the money that will become available when the property and real estate is sold.
Under a government scheme introduced on 6 November 2014, applicants are not able to rely on the purchase of property to satisfy the investment requirement necessary to apply for a Tier 1 (Investor) visa. Successful applicants can come to the UK to work or study for a maximum period of 3 years and 4 months and may extend their visa for a further 2 years, and can apply to settle within the country after 2, 3 or 5 years if they invest £10 million, £5 million or £2 million respectively.
British National (Overseas) Visa
In July 2021 the UK government announced a new immigration route for Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas), enabling them to live in the UK with their immediate dependents. The applications process will open in July 2021.
There are various requirements that need to be met in order to obtain a BN(O) Visa including the ability to demonstrate that applicants can accommodate and support themselves in the UK for at least six months.
Important notice: Proptech Pioneer and its associated companies seek to provide real estate investors with guides, information and tools, but we cannot guarantee this information to be accurate or perfect. You use the information at your own risk and accept no liability if you rely on this information. Proptech Pioneer is not a tax advisor, accountant conveyancer, lawyer, financial advisor or mortgage advisor. You should seek independent advice from independent professionals before making any investment decision.