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    Jan 24, 2014

    Chinese still keen on private homes here

    PRIVATE-HOME purchases here by non-Singaporeans fell nearly 35 per cent last year. And the biggest drop - in percentage terms - among the top four nationalities came from Indians, while the smallest was from mainland Chinese.

    According to a caveats analysis by DTZ, the Indians picked up 460 homes, down 52.5 per cent from 968 in 2012.

    The mainland Chinese bought 1,479, or just 16.9 per cent fewer than the 1,780 in 2012. This was smaller than the 36 per cent slide in purchases by Malaysians, whose tally came in at 1,303, compared with 2,037 in 2012.

    As a result, the mainland Chinese overtook the Malaysians last year to become the top group of non-Singaporean buyers of private homes.

    Indonesians, meanwhile, bought 41.7 per cent fewer homes last year: 880 units against 1,510 in 2012.

    DTZ combined Singapore permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners in its nationality breakdown of overseas buyers.

    It found that the bulk, or about 65 per cent, of the 1,479 homes bought by the mainland Chinese were priced below $1.5 million. Around 62 per cent of the total were bought from developers. And more than 80 per cent were outside the traditional prime districts of 9, 10 and 11.

    The three most popular planning areas among the mainland Chinese were Pasir Ris (131 units), Bukit Timah (129 units) and Bedok (123 units).

    New project launches in Bedok last year include Urban Vista and The Glades. In Pasir Ris, D'Nest, The Inflora and Vue 8 Residence were among the new launches. New launches in the Bukit Timah planning area include CapitaLand's D'Leedon project and Far East Organization's The Siena.

    Demand from the mainland Chinese could be more resilient due to a few factors. Buying restrictions back home have led them to look overseas for opportunities, and Singapore is still one of their favourite investment destinations, said Ms Lee Lay Keng, head of Singapore research at DTZ.

    "Some of them are investing in Singapore as they have business links here or are planning to send their children here for education."

    Currency exchange rates may also have been a factor behind the smaller drop in purchases by the mainland Chinese, compared with the other key nationalities'.

    While the yuan strengthened against the Singapore dollar last year, the currencies of Malaysia, India and Indonesia weakened against the Sing dollar, making property here more expensive, market watchers say.

    In DTZ's analysis, if PRs were excluded, foreigners' share of total private-home purchases rose to 9 per cent from 6 per cent in 2012. This is because they posted a smaller percentage drop in units bought last year compared with PRs and Singaporeans.

    Another trend among foreign buyers was that their purchases of homes above $5 million held firm, even as overall purchases of properties in this price range fell 34 per cent. Foreigners bought 106 homes priced above $5 million last year, similar to 2012. In contrast, purchases of such properties by Singaporeans and PRs slipped 44 per cent and 27 per cent, respectively.