Fri, Nov 26, 2010

SINGAPORE – Home hunters from China are becoming a force to be reckoned with in Singapore, and their presence could grow further as the authorities on the mainland and in Hong Kong clamp down on real estate speculation.

Analysing the caveats lodged, property consultancy DTZ found that the Chinese accounted for 20 per cent of private home transactions involving foreigners and permanent residents (PRs) in the third quarter. This proportion is the highest since official data was available from 1995.

The Chinese became the second-largest group of non-Singaporean buyers, on a par with Indonesians. Malaysians took top spot with a 21 per cent share, and Indians ranked fourth with 14 per cent.

On the whole, foreigners and PRs accounted for 23 per cent of the 7,888 private-home transactions in the third quarter.

Singaporeans bought the majority of homes and had a 73 per cent share. Companies were involved in the remaining 3 per cent.

The presence of Chinese buyers has grown significantly since 2007, DTZ said. Just a quarter earlier in Q2, they made up 17 per cent of non-Singaporean private home buyers, coming in third behind Malaysians and Indonesians.

Their share of transactions ‘may go up further as recent property market curbs in China could prompt more mainland Chinese buyers to turn their attention overseas’, DTZ said.

The Chinese government has introduced a raft of rules to cool the property market in the last few months. These include a suspension of mortgages for third homes, higher interest rates, and larger down payments for homes. A property tax is now said to be on the cards.

Hong Kong has also stepped up efforts to weed out property speculators.

Just a few days ago, the authorities imposed a special stamp duty on property transactions with short holding periods – those reselling their properties within six months would be taxed as much as 15 per cent of the total transaction amount.

By Emilyn Yap
The Business Times