S'pore 'still a good bet' for property investments

Real estate experts explain why it remains attractive and also share tips at two-day seminar by SPH

The two-day property seminar had a focus on investing in Malaysia.
The two-day property seminar had a focus on investing in Malaysia. ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN

If you had a million dollars and the chance to buy property any place in the world, where would you pick?

Singapore still looks like a good bet, said property experts at the two-day SPH Digital Property Seminar and Showcase yesterday. They were responding to a question during a panel session where participants got to pick their brains.

Mr Andrew Chee, head of valuations at SRX Property, said he would put his money on a built-to-order flat in Bidadari, if he were eligible. "It's a good location and I'm confident that there could be room for capital appreciation."

Another panellist, SingCapital chief executive Alfred Chia, replied: "The answer is very simple. You give me $1 million, I will leverage and have $2 million.

"I find Singapore's luxury property market is the one that has been bashed down tremendously." Mr Chia said his real estate fund is looking at "tremendous opportunities" for bulk purchases.

A third panellist, Knight Frank Asia-Pacific head of research Nicholas Holt, said he would put his million in his home town of London, but added: "If you look at where we are in the various cycles around the region, in Vietnam, things are starting to turn the corner - there are some good projects in Vietnam, especially now they've opened up a certain extent to foreign investors. Gateway cities in the United States will also do well."

The Straits Times business editor Lee Su Shyan moderated the panel.

About 500 people packed the Singapore Press Holdings News Centre auditorium for yesterday's property seminar showcase, which had a focus on investing in Malaysia.

Developers present included Mulpha with its Leisure Farm development and Gamuda Land and UEM Land showcasing their Horizon Hills project. By the end of lunch, one sale had been transacted.

Even investors who did not have Malaysian properties on their radar were keen to get a feel of market sentiment, especially since interest rates are on a rising path this year.

Mr Patrick Chong, a retired forex trader, said: "I'm here to see if there's any fresh news. It's good that the speakers emphasise the pitfalls of investment.

"One of them made a good point - not all district nine, 10 and 11 properties can make money."

Mr Ong Eng Joo, a retired auditor who owns property in New Zealand, said: "I'm here to listen to all the speakers.

"Not all of them are speaking about Malaysian property."

SingCapital's Mr Chia told the audience that Singapore is a buyers' market this year for those who are not too leveraged, because developers face two big headwinds.

"Some developers are facing Qualifying Certificate rules where they have to pay the Government (if they don't sell all their units)," he said. "Then you have the ABSD (Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty); developers that have unsold units will have to pay ABSD back to the Government, with interest," he added.

The sold-out seminar ends today.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 24, 2016, with the headline S'pore 'still a good bet' for property investments. Subscribe