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Foreigners snap up 87% more landed homes in first half: DTZ

Companies make 265 buys in H1 2007 vs one in H1 2006

(SINGAPORE) Foreigners, including permanent residents, bought 232 landed homes here in the first half of this year, up 87 per cent from the same period last year, according to DTZ Debenham Tie Leung’s analysis of caveats.

But foreign buyers’ share of total caveats lodged for landed homes in H1 2007 was about 7.6 per cent, down slightly from a 7.9 per cent share in the same year-ago period.

Nearly 90 per cent of these foreign buyers in the first six months of this year were Singapore permanent residents.

Malaysians accounted for the biggest share or 23.7 per cent of foreign buyers of landed homes in H1 2007, followed by United Kingdom nationals (18.5 per cent) and Australians (7.8 per cent).

The number of landed homes picked up by Singaporeans in H1 2007 was up 76.3 per cent year-on-year, though Singaporeans’ share of total caveats for landed homes fell to 83.7 per cent in H1 2007 from 92.1 per cent in H1 2006.

The decline was due to a surge in the number of landed homes bought by companies, to 265 in H1 this year from just one in the same period last year.

In all, 265 caveats were lodged by companies for bungalows, semi-detached houses and terrace homes in H1 2007, compared with just one caveat in H1 2006. The companies include both local and foreign corporations, and could possibly reflect the effect of some investors including individuals or small groups of investors who made purchases through companies, market watchers reckon.

‘There have been small developers and contractors buying up stretches of landed houses in places like Telok Kurau and Kembangan, with the aim of tearing them down and redeveloping the site into a small block of apartments,’ says Knight Frank executive director Peter Ow.

DTZ’s analysis, which was based on caveats captured by Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Realis system, also showed that the most popular landed housing districts sought after by foreigners in H1 2007 differed from those pursued by Singaporeans.

The top location for foreigners (including PRs) who bought landed homes during the period was District 10 (which covers areas like Grange Road, Tanglin, Chatsworth, Jervois, Bishopsgate, Holland Road, Swettenham Road and Laurel Wood Avenue), followed by Districts 15, 11 and 19.

District 15 covers Katong, East Coast and the Meyer Road locations; District 11 includes the Bukit Timah and Dunearn vicinity, Gilstead Road and Gentle Drive; and District 19 includes Serangoon Gardens and Lorong Chuan.

Other popular locations included Districts 21 (which covers the Upper Bukit Timah area) and 4 (Sentosa Cove) In contrast, among Singaporean landed home buyers, the most popular district was 19, followed by Districts 15, 10, 16 (part of Bedok and Tanah Merah), 20 (including Sembawang Hills and Upper Thomson) and 28 (which covers locations like Seletar Hills and Mimosa Place).

‘Foreigners seem to be zooming in more on traditional residential property investment locations, such as prime Districts 10 and 11 and the traditionally popular District 15,’ said a market watcher.

Among companies which bought landed homes from January to June this year, District 15 was the most in demand, followed by Districts 19, 10 and 14.

The 232 landed homes that foreigners purchased in the first half was just 11.5 per cent shy of the 262-unit figure for the whole of last year. The record was set in 1999, when foreigners picked up 347 landed homes on the island.

In Singapore, foreigners have to be PRs before they can receive permission to buy landed homes on mainland Singapore, and Sentosa Cove is the only location where foreigners who are not PRs are allowed to purchase landed property. Even then, foreign would-be buyers must seek permission from the Land Dealings (Approval) Unit under the Singapore Land Authority.

Typically, it takes about four weeks for approval to be granted, but on Sentosa Cove, the time has been cut to less than 48 hours under a special fast-track approval scheme.

Foreigners, including PRs, can at any one time own only one landed home in Singapore and must occupy it themselves rather than renting it out.


Source: Business Times 25 Sept 07

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