Singapore's home sales soar in one of the world's hottest real estate markets, driven by demand by Hong Kong, China investors

By Cheryl Arcibal / | September 26, 2019 10:38 AM SGT
Singapore sold more luxury homes to foreigners in three months ended June than any other quarter during the past 12 years, as Chinese and Hong Kong investors sought a safe haven to park their money amid the escalating US-China trade war and deteriorating public order in Hong Kong.
Up to 140 super luxury homes, those priced at more than S$8 million (US$5.8 million), or S$3,000 per square foot, were sold to foreigners in the second quarter, even with a 20 per cent additional buyer's stamp duty imposed on foreign buyers.
"There has been a spike in that category and we suspect that a lot of them actually could be a mixture of Hong Kong residents and mainland Chinese," said Alan Cheong, head of Savills Singapore's research and consultancy. "We have not seen those numbers (of foreigners buying super luxury homes in Singapore) since the first quarter of 2007."
The record sales to foreigners underscore how the Lion City has become one of the hottest residential property markets on the planet, driven by Hong Kong and Chinese investors. The property bull run has extended into the third quarter, as deteriorating public order in Hong Kong and a 20 per cent slump in home prices has driven capital southward to Singapore, with 110 super luxury homes already sold as of mid-September. That is boosting confidence that the latest quarter could match, or even surpass the second-quarter's sales.
Image of private residential condos in Singapore on 10 February 2019. Photo: Roy Issa
Mainland Chinese investors were the biggest group of buyers across all market categories from 2017 until July this year, buying 1,058 private homes. Hongkongers were the sixth-biggest group, buying 85 homes in the same period, with a clear preference for high-end apartments, according to the Urban Renewal Authority's data.
"They feel that they need to hedge themselves [against risk] so they buy in Singapore, and...