Jump in property buyers from China, Malaysia in Q2

Aerial view of private residences and HDB flats near Tree House condominium on Aug 13, 2014.
Aerial view of private residences and HDB flats near Tree House condominium on Aug 13, 2014.PHOTO: ST FILE

Political and economic uncertainty back home is the likely reason behind the increase in the number of Malaysians and mainland Chinese who bought property here in the second quarter of this year.

Malaysians snapped up 248 private units, 53 per cent more than in the first three months of the year, while 234 homes were bought by buyers from China, up 37 per cent, said real estate services firm DTZ.

"This increased activity coincided with heightened economic uncertainty in China and political concerns in Malaysia," DTZ noted, adding that these buyers were aiming to preserve their wealth.

Buyers from Malaysia and China accounted for almost half of the 1,017 purchases made by non-Singaporeans in the April-June period.

This total was 60 per cent more than in the first quarter but below the 1,298 units sold to foreigners in the second quarter of last year.

Mr Lee Nai Jia, regional head of research at DTZ, told The Straits Times that the firm had expected to see a drop in the number of Malaysian buyers given the falling ringgit.

"I think all the political issues in Malaysia have hindered some of the structural reforms that were supposed to take place. That has become a concern among Malaysian buyers, moving them towards Singapore," he said. "They want to make sure that their money and their wealth is intact and doesn't depreciate further."

Mr Lee added that Chinese buyers were probably motivated more by China's stock-market plunge, which has raised doubts about the country's financial stability and security while, in turn, making Singapore appear as a safe haven.

DTZ expects that the yuan's devaluation last week will drive more of China's high-net-worth individuals to buy property here as a way of protecting their riches but those whose wealth has been hit by the stock-market rout are likely to stay away.

DTZ's report showed that Singaporeans accounted for about 77 per cent of private home purchases in the second quarter, unchanged from the same quarter of 2013 before tougher mortgage curbs were implemented.

There were 3,867 units sold in the second quarter (2,141 in the first). Of these, 2,855 were bought by Singaporeans, compared with 1,564 in the previous three months.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2015, with the headline 'Jump in property buyers from China, Malaysia in Q2'. Print Edition | Subscribe