[url]http://www.straitstimes.com/PrimeNews/Story/STIStory_614745.html[/url]

Dec 17, 2010

[B][SIZE="5"]More foreigners buying new private homes[/SIZE][/B]

[B]Low interest rates, stability help make Singapore attractive[/B]

By Cheryl Lim


FOREIGNERS were out in force in the property market last month, snapping up almost one in three new private homes in Singapore.

Market analysis from DMG & Partners Research shows that just under 30per cent of new private residential units were sold in November to foreigners or permanent residents (PRs).

This marks an 8-percentage point gain on the 22per cent seen in October.

The growth appears to come from Chinese buyers, who are increasingly making their presence felt.

DMG & Partners property research analyst Brandon Lee told The Straits Times: 'They really started coming in during the fourth quarter of 2007. Previously their numbers were single digit, but now we have seen their group hitting sometimes up to 20per cent.'

Indonesians and Malaysians continue to form the bulk of foreign buyers, Mr Lee added, with Malaysians making up 25-30per cent of the group and Indonesians up to 25per cent.

Mr Kenny Tay, an agent with Huttons Real Estate, said he has seen the number of his Indonesian clients grow by around 20per cent compared to two years ago.

One reason for the rise in foreign purchases last month could be the recent property cooling measures rolled out in other Asian cities, say analysts.

Ms Tay Huey Ying, research director at Colliers International, said the increased sliding scale of stamp duties and restraints on mortgage lending in Hong Kong had tempered interest in the Hong Kong and China markets.

'These buyers may not even be residing in Hong Kong or China. They could be foreign buyers who previously wanted to invest in those areas but have now diverted their attention to Singapore.'

Another factor could be that foreign buyers planning on buying HDB resale flats may have been deterred by the recent Government cooling measures. One new rule is that they cannot hold foreign property overseas at the time they buy an HDB flat.

DMG & Partners' Mr Lee suggests that some foreign buyers 'could be looking at mass market condos'.

Last month's figures also show that one-fifth of all buyers at Lakefront Residences near Lakeside MRT station were foreigners and PRs. The same proportion was seen at NV Residences in Pasir Ris.

Mr Lee said the Government's policy towards the Singapore dollar has also encouraged more foreign investors to invest here in the expectation that their property's value will rise in tandem with the Singdollar.

Unless there is another round of property cooling measures, the number of foreign buyers will continue to rise, predicts OrangeTee executive director of residential Steven Tan.

'(Foreign buyers) have confidence in Singapore's overall economy, low interest rate climate and political stability.'

Mr Tan added that some foreigners may turn towards high- end property projects like the bungalows on Sentosa or areas like Marina Bay.

He attributed this to the fact that prices for this segment have not recovered to the peaks seen in 2007.

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