Singaporeans’ deep-seated desire for home ownership has seen them snap up the biggest share of residential properties versus foreigners in a decade.
About 79 per cent of private apartments went to Singaporeans in the first quarter of this year, the most since the first three months of 2009, according to property consultants OrangeTee & Tie.
The homes were not cheap – the proportion of local purchases of luxury units jumped to 69 per cent from 36 per cent in the same period a year ago.
“The rising number of affluent locals purchasing luxury homes indicates their confidence that Singapore remains a safe haven for capital preservation and appreciation,” said Christine Sun, the head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee.
That confidence was also reflected in a survey released last week by PropertyGuru, which found that while most locals believe home prices are too high, two-thirds reckon apartments are still affordable – not bad in a city where prime unit prices come in around the S$1.63 million mark and the average monthly rent is about S$2,635.
Younger people are moving out of their parents’ homes earlier and demand for executive condominiums has grown in popularity among upgraders, PropertyGuru’s study found.
“As wealth creation continues to grow in Singapore the desire and ability to pursue higher-quality living is driving the higher proportion of private home ownership,” said Christine Li, the head of research for Singapore and Southeast Asia at Cushman & Wakefield.
“While foreign buyers have remained resilient, the proportion could have been much higher if cooling measures hadn’t been punitive to them,” she said.
The Singapore government has kept a tight leash on the property market since the early part of the decade in a bid to avoid runaway prices. Last July, higher stamp duties were imposed, with levies for foreigners the highest at 20 per cent.
Developers sold a total of 1,838 new homes last quarter, 16 per cent higher than in the same period a year ago, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed.
Buyers with deep pockets proved particularly fond of newly launched luxury condos, where sales more than doubled to 192 units, the highest number of new prime dwellings homes sold in any quarter since December 2017.
The January-March 2019 quarter also saw the most sales of super-luxury new condos – or those with price tags in excess of S$3,500 per square foot (psf) – in more than a decade. One penthouse in a development near the Orchard Road shopping district went for S$28 million, or S$4,927 psf.