Foreigners and the Bubbly Property Market

There is this symbiotic relationship going on between foreigners in Singapore and the property market. Foreigners, including PRs, are buying new and resale real estate. Foreigners are also renting in the prime 9, 10 and 11 to the suburban estates. Developers are happy, housing agents are delighted, sellers of HDB and private apartments are euphoric because these foreigners are snapping it up hungrily as Singapore builds itself to reach a population of 6 million. Imagine the immense shock to landlords and property owners who overextended in buying more than one property when populist rage for less foreigners in Singapore becomes policy?

The first to be hit would be the construction and real estate industries, besides dad-and-mom property investors as the foreigners would just pack up and go elsewhere. Nevertheless, nothing to worry for now as the government’s calm assuring voice that uptake of permanent residency and citizenship are slowing down i.e. there are still foreigners coming in and it is only that they are not intending to take more long term residence here, that’s all.

Still, foreigners are so intertwined into the local property market now, excluding the high profiles stories of Jet Lee buying a Bt Timah GCB. Their sudden departure is going to cause a serious property market correction. But that is a worry best tackled after the election the PAP hopes to think. Ask the PAP such difficult questions now, we should.

Dec 19, 2010
More foreigners buying new private homes
Low interest rates, stability help make Singapore attractive
By Cheryl Lim

FOREIGNERS were out in force in the property market last month, snapping up almost one in three new private homes in Singapore.

Market analysis from DMG & Partners Research shows that just under 30per cent of new private residential units were sold in November to foreigners or permanent residents (PRs).

This marks an 8-percentage point gain on the 22per cent seen in October.

The growth appears to come from Chinese buyers, who are increasingly making their presence felt.

DMG & Partners property research analyst Brandon Lee told The Straits Times: ‘They really started coming in during the fourth quarter of 2007. Previously their numbers were single digit, but now we have seen their group hitting sometimes up to 20per cent.’

Indonesians and Malaysians continue to form the bulk of foreign buyers, Mr Lee added, with Malaysians making up 25-30per cent of the group and Indonesians up to 25per cent

Fewer S’pore citizenship, permanent residency granted: report
By Joanne Chan | Posted: 17 December 2010 1853 hrs

SINGAPORE : Fewer immigrants were granted permanent residency and citizenship this year, according to the first Singapore Public Sector Outcomes Review which outlines challenges for the government.

Competition for jobs from foreigners, rising property prices and over-crowding in public transportation were among concerns raised by Singaporeans over the hot issue of foreigners and immigrants in Singapore.

In a sign that these concerns have been heard, the growth of citizens and permanent residents has slowed significantly to 1.01 per cent this year, compared to 2.5 per cent in 2009.

Recognising concerns over the influx of foreigners, the government has taken steps to manage this growth. These include tightening the framework for granting permanent residency and citizenship.

In addition, infrastructure for transport, housing and other amenities is being enhanced to accommodate gradual population growth.

The government has also said it will keep the foreign share of the workforce at one-third.

However, it added that with Singapore’s low fertility rate, the country must remain open to high calibre immigrants to boost the population and sustain competitiveness.

One sociologist said anxieties among citizens must be eased.

Professor Jean Yeung, a sociologist at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, said: “To affirm that local Singaporeans are the priority of Singapore society, making sure that their life is well taken care of, infrastructure is well, you need to increase the immigrants, but the local population shouldn’t feel threatened about it.”

Professor Yeung added that there has to be more education and outreach efforts to show the contributions that immigrants are making in Singapore.

Another issue for the government involves the CPF minimum sum requirement, where S$123,000 must be set aside for retirement.

In 2009, only 49 per cent of workers were able to meet the requirement upon reaching 55 years old.

This raises concerns over the ability of the elderly to depend on themselves in retirement, and the potential need for more support from the government.

Prof Yeung said: “Older people rely a lot on their children to support them. And now a large proportion of people don’t even get married or have children. So that means they are going to need to accumulate enough on their own, or the government will have to increase their support to the elderly population.”

The report looked at six broad areas, including sustainable economic growth and building a cohesive society.

There are plans to publish the report every two years.

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