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Thread: More foreigners pay millions for homes here

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    Default More foreigners pay millions for homes here

    April 1, 2007

    More foreigners pay millions for homes here

    Buyers from Indonesia, Malaysia remain the largest groups

    By Joyce Teo, Property Correspondent


    MORE foreigners than ever are forking out millions to buy a residential property in Singapore.

    Last year, they snapped up nearly 5,000 units, which represented a 23 per cent market share, property consultants said.

    And as the luxury property boom gained pace in the final quarter of last year, their buying spree hit an all-time high. For the first time, their market share hit 26 per cent, beating the previous all-time high of 24 per cent in 1995.

    Before the market started to bounce back in 2005, foreign homebuyers made up less than 20 per cent of all buyers in Singapore.

    Indonesians bought the most private residential properties here last year, accounting for about 23.7 per cent of foreign buyers, based on statistics compiled by Knight Frank. Malaysians took second place with 22.7 per cent.

    Indians came third, with 8.4 per cent, followed by Britons, with 8 per cent. Buyers from China took up 7.7 per cent. Next came Australians, with 5 per cent.

    Other significant foreign buyer groups came from the United States, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

    More foreigners are also buying landed homes, particularly in the prime districts, even though they need approval to buy.

    Some of them have benefited from recent collective sales and are looking for a landed home with their proceeds, said an agent covering the landed market.

    He has worked with British and Indian clients who have no problems with paying a 1 per cent deposit for a house costing up to $10 million, even before obtaining approval to buy.

    The home-buying budgets of many foreigners run to several millions of dollars.

    Fourth-quarter caveats lodged showed that nearly half of the foreign buyers bought homes for between $1 million and $5 million, said Knight Frank.

    About 38 per cent bought homes costing $500,000 to $1 million. An elite group of 5 per cent bought posh homes costing $5 million or more, it said.

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    Default Luxury homes attract foreigners

    Luxury homes attract foreigners

    By Narendra Aggarwal - Mar 25, 2007

    The Straits Times


    AS THE Singapore property market revs up once again, a new feature in the current upturn is the keen interest in "super homes" costing $2 million and above each.

    The latest estimates show that the number of private homes in the Republic has hit the 200,000-mark. Property experts say that on a conservative estimate, 1 per cent of the condominium units, or 2,000 of these private homes, could be classified as the real luxury segment.

    An equal number of landed properties is considered "good class bungalows".

    It is this top-end segment that is driving property demand in the country in view of the heightened interest from well-heeled locals and rich foreigners who want a high quality home in Singapore.

    Given that that the super class homes already cost upwards of $1,500 per square foot (psf), and that such units would at least be around 2,000 psf on average, some market pundits argue that the prices of quality super homes really start at $3 million each.

    "A confluence of good factors and the upcoming two casinos in Singapore are driving the property market in Singapore," says Mr Ku Swee Yong, Director of Marketing and Business Development at Savills Singapore, one of the leading players in the property market here.

    "Besides, property prices in Singapore are one-third to half compared to the current levels in leading cities like London and New York in the west, and Tokyo and Hong Kong in the east," he points out.

    Mr Ku says his bullish views on the strong upturn in the Singapore property market are based on the experience of what has already happened in other leading cities around the world.

    Continuing good economic growth in Singapore coupled with a booming stock market, and the new interest of global high net worth individuals to have one of their homes in Singapore – these are cited as the perfect conditions driving the high-end projects.

    "Fifty-two per cent of the buyers in The Berth By The Cove upmarket development in Sentosa Cove are foreigners," says Mr Chua Thian Poh, chairman and chief executive of Ho Bee Investment, a boutique property developer.

    The Berth is Ho Bee’s first project in Sentosa. Mr Chua now has five exclusive projects in Sentosa, which will be home of one of the first two integrated resorts in the country. "Our buyers comprise 26 nationalitites — we are going to have a mini-United Nations in Sentosa Cove," he says.

    On Ho Bee’s developments in Sentosa, he says: "We are offering them seafront living in a tropical setting. Big windows in all the rooms will be one of the highlights. All our projects are being designed by local architects but we have brought in overseas consultants to add special features like landscaping. I myself take a personal interest in the design and interiors of our projects."

    For instance, he has engaged United Statesbased Bill Bensley, who runs the Bensley Design Studio, to do the landscaping for the Coral Island and Paradise Island developments in Sentosa.

    Ho Bee Investment’s bullish outlook on super homes is shared by another property bigwig, CapitaLand.

    "We are positive on the growth opportunities in the highend segment of the Singapore residential market, given the interest generated from the integrated resort projects and other developments in Singapore," says Ms Patricia Chia, chief executive officer of CapitaLand Residential Singapore.

    "Within the high-end segment itself, we see two tiers evolving, where a few ‘one of its kind’ projects will fall into a super luxury category," she adds.

    Projects in the high-end segment would be priced between $1,800 and $2,500 per square foot on average, according to Ms Chia.

    "The few super luxury projects, which distinguish themselves from other high-end developments, could command above $3,000 psf on average," she says.

    Leading property consultants who track "super homes" sales says that over 50 per cent of such property in Singapore is now being bought by foreigners. For some projects, the figure could even be as high as 60 per cent.

    "They see Singapore ranking among the top cities in the world — the perfect place to work, live and play," says Savills' Mr Ku, who is a popular speaker at property seminars.

    The Hong Leong group also says that the price levels of luxury property projects in Singapore are attractive, especially to foreign buyers, when compared with similar properties in cities such as New York, London and Hong Kong. For instance, in London, an apartment near Harrods was recently sold at £4,370 psf (about S$13,000 psf) while a penthouse there was sold for £85 million.

    In New York, units at The Plaza facing Central Park have been sold for US$6,000 (S$9,148) psf.

    "Therefore, the luxury market here still has some way to go. Certainly, the property market is improving and there is much upside potential. So far, the property market has been giving very good returns and we are optimistic that prospects for the property market should be very positive," says a Hong Leong group spokesman.

    Apart from investment gains, foreign buyers may also wish to buy homes because they want to establish a permanent home in Singapore.

    "As these are well-heeled foreigners, they choose to live in high-end properties in prime estates where they are assured of quality, convenience, good service and yet privacy," he adds.

    The Hong Leong group’s listed property arm, City Developments Limited (CDL), kick-started the luxury property market when it launched the high profile residential development The Sail @ Marina Bay in October 2004. This development is one of the world’s tallest residences and is located in the heart of Marina Bay. No wonder the project is 100 per cent sold.

    Similarly, CDL’s high-end luxury project St Regis Residences was one of the most talked about developments when it was launched in June last year. This is the first of its kind hotel and residences development and the only branded residences in Singapore.

    The unique aspect of this development is that residents will be able to tap on the professional hotel services from the adjoining six-star St Regis Hotel. This includes the hotel’s world-renowned spa and fitness facilities, housekeeping, and the trademark St.Regis Butler Service.

    When it was launched, St Regis Residences set a new benchmark for super homes when a unit was sold for more than $3,000 psf.

    Interestingly, over 75 per cent of the buyers of St Regis Residences are from overseas. These well-heeled buyers hail from United Kingdom, the United States, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia.

    St Regis Residences will comprise 173 beautifully appointed residences, stunning Sky Suites and Sky Villas (penthouses).

    Property consultant Savills’ Mr Ku says this trend of hotel branded luxury homes is likely to catch on in Singapore as it has already been very successful overseas. "The Four Seasons, for instance, has very successfully branded luxury homes," he says.

    The Hong Leong group sees the high-end residential property sector continuing to show strong growth because of an increasing number of foreign talents being attracted here and the rising percentage of affluent Singaporeans.

    The Singapore Government has also put in place many strategies which have helped to make Singapore an exciting global city and a conducive investment hub," its spokesman says.

    "The Government has made strategic moves to attract more foreign talent to become permanent residents and Singapore citizens. With greater affluence and a 'feelgood' factor, certain Singapore residents will upgrade their homes and this will affect the property market positively,” he adds.

    Another luxury property project from Hong Leong Holdings' in the pipeline is The Tate Residences. Located along Claymore Road and Draycott Drive, it is another Hong Leong Holdings’ prestigious project.

    About 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the buyers of The Tate Residences are from Indonesia, UK, US, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, Sweden, according to the company.

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