SINGAPORE (REUTERS) – Foreigners are once again pouring money into Singapore’s high-end property market despite hefty levies introduced last year.

And, it is the Chinese who are leading the return, property brokers say, even though British billionaire James Dyson grabbed headlines this week with the purchase of Singapore’s most expensive apartment.

Some of the Chinese investors are apparently buying into these luxury homes in the city state as a safety bet against the US-China trade war. Fresh interest is also being driven by instability in rival financial hub Hong Kong, the brokers say.

Private home prices rose unexpectedly to a five-year high in the second quarter, driven by Singaporeans who make up the bulk of the market. But a detailed analysis of transaction data also shows a rise in foreign demand.

“The Chinese are coming,” said Chandran V R, managing director of realty firm Cosmopolitan Real Estate. “The factors are the issue in Hong Kong and also the trade war… They are looking at the stability of our currency.”

Chandran, who is currently marketing a $12.8 million penthouse, said there has been a rush of potential Chinese buyers to view the property in recent weeks.

Other brokers said they were aware of four deals over the last three months where Chinese bought apartments worth $20 million to $30 million in Singapore.

In Singapore’s luxury apartment market, 169 deals worth $1.4 billion were registered in the first half of this year, according to List Sotheby’s International Realty, with foreigners and permanent residents making up 70 per cent of the buyers. Deals picked up from the previous six months, but were still lower than the first half of 2018, when the group made up 61 per cent of the buyers, it said.

In recent years, Chinese buyers have become the dominant players in Singapore’s prime residential property markets, taking over from wealthy tycoons from surrounding Malaysia and Indonesia.

However, cooling measures introduced by the Singapore Government last year – including hiking additional stamp duties for foreign buyers to 20 per cent from 15 per cent last July – have dampened demand. Until now.

News Source: The Straits Times Singapore, 12 July 2019

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