Sales of Singapore apartments worth at least $10 million each have hit an 11-year high, fuelled by increased demand from Chinese millionaires seeking safe-haven assets, said property consultancy OrangeTee & Tie.
Investors have long viewed Singapore as an island of stability that attracts the super rich from its less developed South-east Asian neighbours, as well as multi-millionaires from mainland China.
In the first eight months of this year, 68 condominium units in the wealthy city state were sold for $10 million and more each, the highest tally since the corresponding period of 2008. Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to last year, the consultants' analysis of transaction data shows.
Some buyers may have been seeking an alternative to rival financial hub Hong Kong, which has been hit by protests, while others may have been moving funds from China after its yuan currency was devalued in a trade war with the United States, an OrangeTee expert said.
"This may explain why we have observed more foreign buyers, especially mainland Chinese, coming into Singapore lately," said Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee.
Mainland Chinese are the biggest group of foreign buyers of Singapore luxury homes. In Singapore's prime districts, Chinese citizens bought 76 apartments worth more than $5 million each in the period from January to last month, compared with 75 purchases by Singaporeans, data until last Thursday shows.
Expensive apartments in premium neighbourhoods are mainly bought by foreigners, because at such high prices Singaporeans have the option to buy landed property, such as bungalows and mansions. Singapore does not allow foreigners to buy landed homes, except for those that are on the resort island of Sentosa.
"We do see that even though the stamp duties have increased... we are still seeing people putting big money on these apartments, predominantly more for stability than anything else," said Mr Leong Boon Hoe, chief operating officer of high-end property agency List Sotheby's International Realty.
He was referring to measures Singapore adopted last year to cool its real estate market, such as hiking additional stamp duties for foreign buyers to 20 % from 15 %. "They are parking their money here - they know that the Singapore dollar won't depreciate overnight," he said.
Adapted From The Straits Times, Sep 23 2019