Singapore — A growing number of investors from China, most of whom are from the middle class, are turning away from buying property in Hong Kong because of the turmoil there in the past six months and are eyeing Singapore as the new go-to country for investments.
According to a recent report in scmp.com, the “Little Red Dot” has become more and more attractive when it comes to buying property for China’s increasingly wealthy middle class, or “mid-tier” investors, as confirmed by a number of Singaporean property agents.
While Hong Kong has traditionally been where these investors have put their funds, its recent troubles have made the “mid-tier” investors wary, with some even concerned for their personal safety.
An associate division director of the ERA real estate company, Mr Clarence Foo, is quoted as saying: “For these people, safety is a big issue. They know they are not welcomed (and) now they are targeted. If you speak with a Chinese accent, you could potentially be beaten up.”
The report adds that many of the mainland Chinese who have settled in Hong Kong testify to an atmosphere of fear and have even told their children to speak English so as not to become targets of possible violence. Others have cut down on trips to Hong Kong, even for medical examinations.
From June onwards, inquiries from mainland Chinese concerning the purchase of property in Singapore had increased by over a third, said Beijing-based investment consultant Lily Han. She added that Singapore was now being promoted as the number one Asian investment destination.
“Singapore has always been on the radar but it seems to be getting more attention now,” said Ms Michelle Gao, a relocation agent from Shanghai. And while prices in Singapore are high when compared to those in countries in Europe, high interest in the country remains, as many Chinese consider political stability to be very important.
Additionally, some of the middle-class Chinese investors looking at buying Singapore property are considering having their children study here, with the country’s bilingual education policy being attractive to them.
Many, the report says, also believe that investors from China are likely to be well-received in Singapore.
Property prices in Singapore are also good when compared to the escalating cost of properties in China’s mega-cities including Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing.
The report quotes Mr Foo as saying: “The days when they could double or triple their investment in China are long gone. Singapore is the best place for them to park their money as they’d want to diversify where their money is.”
He added that previous investments in other South-east Asian countries, such as Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia, had not yielded satisfying returns on their investments.
In the light of growing interest from Chinese investors, more Singapore developers have participated in roadshows in China and Hong Kong of late, as well as joined discussions on WeChat.
While investments from among the mid-tier Chinese are just beginning to take off, those from the affluent Chinese have continued to grow steadily, with purchases above S$5 million almost doubling in the third quarter of this year when compared to the same period last year.
Mr Foo said that many mainland Chinese are expected to visit Singapore during Chinese New Year to view properties for investment.
Ms Christine Sun, head of research at OrangeTee & Tie Property, was quoted as saying: “We expect mainland Chinese buyers to continue streaming into Singapore. We estimate that between 9,000 and 9,800 new homes, excluding executive condominiums, could be transacted in 2020.” -/TISG