In Q2 2020, foreign homebuyers  – which comprised both Singapore permanent residents and foreigners  – accounted for 18.3% of acquisitions, a slight drop from the 20.2% recorded in Q1 2020. 

Despite the economic impacts of COVID-19 and the circuit breaker measures from 7 April to 1 June 2020  – which disallowed home viewings and resulted in the closure of showflats – the Singapore private property market has remained surprisingly resilient.

There were 3,862 primary sales and 3,071 secondary sales in the first six months of 2020, and property prices fell by a slight 0.7% in the first six months of 2020. The strength of the market was also evident as the URA Private Residential Price Index rose by 0.3% in Q2 2020.

While most of this year’s homebuyers were Singaporeans, foreigners were also seen actively participating in the market, with their proportion of involvement fairly similar to that seen in 2019 – an ordinary year not afflicted by an economic crisis or the COVID-19 pandemic.

In Q2 2020, foreign homebuyers  – which comprised both Singapore permanent residents and foreigners  – accounted for 18.3% of acquisitions, a slight drop from the 20.2% recorded in Q1 2020. This is despite when cross-border travel is not allowed. 

“Taking into consideration that the proportion of foreign homebuyers made up 19.9% of all private home sales in all of 2019, Q2 2020’s 18.3% is also not too far off when compared to a year where market conditions were considered normal,” said Leonard Tay, Head of Research at Knight Frank Singapore.

From January to about mid-August 2020, URA Realis data showed that unspecified foreign nationalities made up 6.4% of all private residential transactions (as of 18 August 2020).

It was followed by buyers from China at 4.5% and Malaysia at 2.1%. Buyers from India, Indonesia and the USA accounted for 1.8%, 0.9% and 0.7%, respectively, of all private residential transactions.

Credit: Knight Frank

Credit: Knight Frank

Although the number of transactions by foreign buyers dropped in April and May, sales volume “picked up from June onwards due to pent-up demand despite most travel restrictions still being in place”, noted Tay.

Suggested read: PropertyGuru Singapore Property Market Index Report Q3 2020

To-date, half of the units bought by non-Singaporean buyers this year were completed units, and the other half were uncompleted units.

“Within the top five identified nationalities from China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and the USA, some 75% preferred completed units,” said Tay.

“These buyers of completed units likely hold the traditional view that Singapore provides a safe haven for foreign investment with stable recurring income even in times of crisis.”

Singapore’s private homes saw overall occupancy rate held steady at 94.6% during the first six months of 2020, a time of pandemic-led economic recession.

And despite the growing recessionary pressures, foreigners also snapped homes within the higher price brackets.

In fact, 30 buyers from China purchased homes at above $5 million, while buyers from Indonesia and USA accounted for 15 and seven units, respectively.

Generally, homebuyers from China “preferred locations in postal Districts 1 (Raffles Place, Cecil, Marina, People’s Park), 9 (Orchard, Cairnhill, River Valley) and 10 (Ardmore, Bukit Timah, Holland Road, Tanglin) for centrally located homes, while they looked to Districts 18 (Tampines, Pasir Ris) and 19 (Serangoon Gardens, Hougang, Ponggol) for suburban units”.

“Buyers from India bought a larger proportion in the East and North-East of the island, from District 18 as well as Districts 15 (Marine Parade, Katong, Joo Chiat, Amber Road) and 19.”

Buyers from Indonesia, on the other hand, preferred properties in prime Districts 9 and 10.

For the rest of 2020 and next year, Tay expects foreigners “to continue to constitute a support level of around 18% to 20% of private homebuyers in Singapore.

“This might even increase moderately as travel restrictions are lifted over time,” he added.

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