Foreign buyers show resilience in the luxury condo market

Victor Kang15 Jan 2020

While the cooling measures in 2018 have dampened demand for residential properties, foreigners who bought top-end condos are showing more resilience. 

The cooling measures implemented in July 2018 may have lowered general home-buying demand, but foreigners appear to have been more resilient towards high-end condos, reported The Business Times, based on a report by ERA Research and Consultancy. 

The ERA report, which is based on data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) Realis, revealed that the quantity of non-landed private residential units in the Core Central Region (CCR) bought by citizens declined to 2,427 units after the measures – a 38% drop.

Purchases made by permanent residents and foreigners, meanwhile, dropped by 30% to 1,264 units. Residential purchases made by companies in the CCR dropped to 49 units from 142 units, reflecting a decrease of nearly two-thirds.

The ERA report covered transactions made for non-landed units in the CCR (Districts 9, 10 and 11, Sentosa Cove as well as Downtown Core) and excluded both landed housing and executive condominiums (ECs). The data compared between the 18 months prior to the cooling measures (January 2017 to June 2018) and the 18 months after the curbs (July 2018 to December 2019), and included permanent residents under foreigners.

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Meanwhile, the number of private housing units transactions across the country dropped by around 23% to 25,270 units, compared to 32,866 units before the measures. There was a 20% drop for Singaporean buyers and a 32% drop for foreigner buyers.

The recent wave of measures also brought in increased Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty (ABSD). The duty for citizens buying their second home increased to 12% from 7%, while those buying their third and subsequent property were subjected to 15% ABSD, which was previously 10%.

Foreigners are now subjected to 20% ABSD, while permanent residents (PRs) are subjected to 15% ABSD for their second and subsequent purchased properties.

For the high end residential real estate segment, the report explained: “foreign buying demand was more resilient than local demand in the face of the latest cooling measures.” 

This implied that foreign buyers who are willing to pay higher ABSD are high net worth persons only interested in luxury homes.

“Foreign buying demand in the high-end residential market weathered the cooling measures better than foreign demand in the rest of the real estate market, illustrating that the underlying demand for prime real estate from foreign homebuyers was still relatively healthy,” the report noted.

“Singapore citizens have always been the largest group of buyers of luxury homes in Singapore, even after the 2018 cooling measures”, said the report. 

Chinese nationals biggest group of buyers for high-end residential units 

From July 2018 to December 2019, Singaporeans made up 65% of the buyers for non-landed housing units in the CCR, while foreigners and companies making up 34% and slightly over 1% of the buyers respectively.

The ranking of the largest group of foreign buyers of high-end non-landed residential property remained mostly the same, even as the number of units bought by buyers from Vanuatu, Dominica, Denmark, Cambodia, Cyprus, Thailand and Spain decreased after the cooling measures’ implementation.

After the measures, Chinese nationals purchased 380 non-landed units in the CCR. This made them the biggest group of purchasers for high-end residential units.

Indonesian buyers purchased 149 non-landed homes in the CCR, enough for them to take the second place. Americans stayed at fourth place, while buyers from Taiwan and Hong Kong made up the rest of the top five spots.

The ERA report covered the CCR and compared data under the 18 months before the implementation of the cooling measures (January 2017 to June 2018) and the 18 months after the implementation (July 2018 to December 2019). It did not include executive condominiums and landed housing but did include permanent residents and foreigners.

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Victor Kang, Digital Content Specialist at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email


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