New type of buyers on the block

There is a new type of foreign property investor in town and, unlike many foreign buyers, he’s not likely to be an absentee landlord.

Differing sharply from the traditional group of foreign investors here, this new comer is typically a highly-educated, highly-paid professional working in academia or a large company here and he is Indian.

According to Mr Cheang Kok Kheong, development and property general manager of Frasers Centrepoint Ltd, the profile of foreign investors in several Frasers properties is changing with Indians increasingly making a big impact.

“The presence of foreign buyers from non-traditional sources such as India, the UK and Europe is quite significant especially in our Jervois property where Indians are among the largest group of foreigners,” Mr Cheong said.

He was referring to One Jervois, a freehold mid-level condominium in District 10, which was launched recently. Indians constitute 12 per cent of the foreign buyers at the project. Overall they constitute 5 per cent of all buyers there, said a Frasers Centrepoint spokesman.

And this could be a microcosm of the bigger residential property sector, said Mr Cheong, a view corroborated by statistics from Savills Residential Singapore, which show the number of Indian property buyers here going up from 89 in 2003 to 514 last year. This does not include Indians who have taken up
Singapore citizenship.

An interesting aspect of this trend is that these Indians are mostly well-educated, highly-skilled managers and professionals in multinational companies (MNCs) or Indian entrepreneurs, said Mr Cheong at a press preview on Wednesday of the luxury St Thomas Suites, the freehold condominium his company is launching this weekend in District 9.

And, unlike many foreign buyers, they are buying for their own use.

“Our Indian buyers consist of two kinds. One type are in IT businesses or employed in IT firms. Another type are professors, lecturers and other professionals,” he said.

Most, he said, are in their early 40s with young, school-going children, some of whom attend local schools.

“They tend to buy the mid-sized units. One Jervois has attracted Indians because it is close to the Indian High Commission so they are familiar with the area. Plus it is not too high at around $1,000 per sq foot,” he said.

Frasers’ most recent project — Clementi Woods, which was launched about two weeks ago — has also attracted Indian buyers, said Mr Cheong.

Most of them are academics as it is near educational institutes such as the National University of Singapore and other major academic institutions.

If this trend continues over the next few quarters, Mr Cheong said he might even consider taking out advertisements in Indian newspapers.

Property experts say this increase in Indian buyers is in tandem with their fast- growing presence in the corporate sector.

“As more sink their roots here, others are encouraged to follow suit, once they have a sizeable community here. The setting up of Indian international schools is also helping them or at least removing obstacles for them to come here,” said Mr Colin Tan, head of research at Chesterton International.

“Over the last five years or so,” said Mr Tan, “we notice that they have been building up their presence along the East Coast condo stretch from Costa Rhu right up to Costa del Sol — more so along the Tanjong Rhu stretch — from Costa Rhu to The Waterside.”

Source: Weekend Today, 03 February 2007

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