Case warns Singapore buyers to be cautious when investing in foreign properties

Skyscrapers including 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the "Walkie-Talkie," left, stand on the skyline of the City of London in London, U.K., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said on Monday it is "very conc
Skyscrapers including 20 Fenchurch Street, also known as the "Walkie-Talkie," left, stand on the skyline of the City of London in London, U.K., on Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said on Monday it is "very concerned" with the recent flurry of advertisements on foreign property investments in the country, and asked buyers to be cautious when buying such properties. -- PHOTO: BLOOMBERG 

SINGAPORE - The Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) said on Monday it is "very concerned" with the recent flurry of advertisements on foreign property investments in the country, and asked buyers to be cautious when buying such properties.

It has asked the authorities to review legislation to ensure foreign developers who sell projects here to abide by the same minimum standards and information disclosure.

"Case is very concerned about the recent proliferation of advertisements on foreign property investments," the statement said.

"Investors should remain cautious about these high risk investments and keep in mind their financial needs and commitments as well as the risks involved," said Case president Lim Biow Chuan in the statement.

Case executive director Seah Seng Choon told The Straits Times this was the first time it was issuing such a warning to local buyers about the risks of buying foreign properties.

It said the recent warning by analysts from Maybank about the glut of homes in the Iskandar region in southern Johor "is a timely reminder to consumers about the potential high risks involved in investing in overseas properties".

Maybank warned in a report two weeks ago of mounting risks to Iskandar's already-weak property market.

It said the "aggressive land-banking activities" of Chinese developers in the ""already crowded" Malaysian development zone could make matters worse.

"Without coordinated planning and control, (Chinese developers' land banking) could aggravate the oversupply situation and induce price wars, especially in the high-rise mixed-development segment," wrote Maybank analyst Wong Wei Sum in the report.

Case said it received 13 complaints from consumers regarding their foreign property purchases in 2013 and 2014.

Most of the complaints involved consumers who had invested in foreign properties but were unable to get back their promised returns or pay outs, Case said