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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                    28  September 2011

Singapore developers pursue Chinese

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Ever since Jacky Zhang visited a few Singapore booths at an international property fair two weeks ago, his iPhone has been ringing with invitations to join special property-viewing group tours in the city-state.

"These (Chinese) agents made it sound like a first-class holiday: My wife and I would stay at a five-star serviced residence in Singapore, be chauffeured around in a BMW to view condos and then shop to our hearts' content," said Zhang, 34, who works in the finance sector.

Although his original intention at the fair was to check out Australian home prices, he quickly got distracted by the enthusiastic sales pitches of companies such as Far East Organization, United Overseas Bank, Credo Real Estate and Chinese consultancy Shuangcheng, which claims to represent small Singapore developers.

Mainland Chinese have become the top foreign buyers of Singapore property, which is seen as a good investment even amid fears of another global recession.

"A strong, stable Singapore dollar appeals to these Chinese buyers as they seek to diversify their funds. The absence of capital gains tax... and plentiful property information available also appeals to them," said Knight Frank Knight Frank research head Png Poh Soon.

Other factors include Singapore's economic stability, its proximity to China - a six-hour flight from Beijing - and an excellent bilingual education system, added Ms Sara Zhang, who heads Far East Organization's Beijing office.

The number of private property deals sealed by foreigners and permanent residents in the second quarter made up 30 per cent of all private home sales in Singapore, according to a report by DTZ Research.

Chinese nationals accounted for just over a quarter - 26 percent - of such purchases. Other foreigners include Indonesians and Malaysians.

And despite tougher Singapore immigration procedures and climbing property prices this year, Chinese buyer interest remains strong, say agents and developers.

No wonder then that many agents and developers from Singapore are rushing to China to woo well-heeled investors.

They face a huge market - China has more than a million millionaires - but also stiff competition from other popular investment destinations like the United States and Australia.



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