Private home purchases by foreigners picked up following circuit breaker

The figures rebounded to 69 units in June 2020 as Singapore emerged from the circuit breaker, before peaking at 81 units in August.

Despite travel curbs remaining in place, the number of private homes acquired by foreigners picked up following last year’s circuit breaker, reported The Business Times (BT).

Data collated by NUS’ Institute of Real Estate and Urban Studies (IREUS) showed that purchases by non-permanent residents (NPRs) fell to 23 units and 22 units in April and May 2020, respectively. Compared to a year ago, transactions had dropped from 94 and 84 units in April and May 2019, respectively.

The figures rebounded to 69 units in June 2020 as the city-state emerge from the circuit breaker, before peaking at 81 units in August. Private home purchases by NPRs then averaged 64 units in October and November.

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The improvement in transactions came even as travel curbs continued to be enforced on a wide scale, said BT.

And while they remain down on a year-on-year basis, the transactions marked a significant increase from the figures posted in April and May during the enforcement of the circuit breaker measures.

Data showed that NPRs favoured properties located within prime districts 9 and 10. Between June and December 2020, NPRs acquired 71 units in District 9 and 66 units in District 10.

NPRs were also attracted to properties in districts 3 and 5, where they snapped 42 and 44 units, respectively.

Chinese buyers accounted for the bulk of acquisitions by NPRs, clinching 142 units between June and December 2020. Americans came in second, purchasing 75 units. There were also 174 private home buyers whose nationality was unspecified.

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IREUS Deputy Director Lee Nai Jia attributed the rebound in NPR transactions to several reasons.

According to him, the buyers may have seen the properties before the implementation of travel restrictions, but the circuit breaker delayed the transaction process. They may have also leveraged on virtual viewings or made the transaction via Singapore-based proxies, he added.

Looking ahead, Lee believes “the relaxation of some restrictions under Phase 3 and the commencement of the vaccination programme is likely to spur further confidence in the Singapore market among NPR buyers”.

“(Barring) external shocks or policy intervention, we expect more NPR buyers to enter the market as the travelling restrictions are lifted or a travel bubble is established between Singapore and other countries, especially China, Malaysia, Indonesia and India,” he said as quoted by BT.

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