Singapore luxury apartment sales surge to 11-year high

Chinese investors are turning to Singapore as a safe alternative to rival hub Hong Kong. (Shutterstock)
Updated 20 September 2019

Singapore luxury apartment sales surge to 11-year high

  • Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to 2018, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows

SINGAPORE: Sales of Singapore apartments worth at least S$10 million ($7.3 million) have hit an 11-year high, fueled by increased demand from Chinese millionaires seeking safe-haven assets, say property consultants OrangeTee & Tie.

Investors have long viewed Singapore as an island of stability that attracts the super-rich from its less developed Southeast Asian neighbors, as well as multimillionaires from mainland China.

In the first eight months of 2019, 68 condominium units in the wealthy Asian city-state were sold for S$10 million and more, 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 2018, the consultants’ analysis of transaction data shows.

Some buyers may have sought an alternative to rival financial hub Hong Kong, hit by protests, while others may have shifted funds from China after its yuan currency was devalued in a trade war with the US, an OrangeTee expert said.

“This may explain why we have observed more foreign buyers, especially mainland Chinese, coming into Singapore lately,” said Christine Sun, its head of research and consultancy.

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 S$5 million from January to August, versus 75 purchases by Singaporeans, data until Sept. 19 show.

Expensive apartments in premium neighborhoods 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 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 it is more for stability than anything else,” said Boon Hoe Leong, chief operating officer of high-end realtor 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 percent from 15 percent.

“They are parking their money here — they know that the Sing dollar won’t depreciate overnight,” he added. 


Uber wins challenge against London operating license refusal

Updated 28 September 2020

Uber wins challenge against London operating license refusal

  • Uber was allowed to continue operating while the appeal was underway

LONDON: Uber can keep operating in London after the ride-hailing company won a court appeal on Monday against the refusal by transit regulators to renew its license.
The US company had challenged Transport for London’s decision in late 2019 not to renew its private hire vehicle (PHV) operating license over safety concerns involving imposter drivers.
“Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV operator’s license,” Deputy Chief Magistrate Tanweek Ikram wrote in his decision.
Uber was allowed to continue operating while the appeal was underway. The decision came after a four-day hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court earlier this month.
Transport for London had decided two years ago to reject Uber’s application for a new license, citing several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk. The regulator noted, among other things, that unauthorized drivers were able to carry out thousands of rides by uploading their photos to other driver accounts.