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Residential real estate sales soared in Singapore in 2009, research shows

Singaporeans were the main drivers of the surge rather than foreign real estate investors. There was an overall rise of 144% in private property transactions by them last year to 23,516 compared with 9,649 in 2008.
In the non-landed segment, Singaporean purchases rose almost 159% while the rise in landed property purchases was nearly 83%, the figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority and DTZ Research show.
But there was still a lot of interest from foreign buyers attracted by comparatively lower prices. The number of purchases by foreigners, including expats, increased by 114% in 2009 to 6,798 compared to 3,176 in 2008. The bulk of the increase was in the non-landed segment, which rose from 3,036 purchases in 2008 to 6,610 last year, an increase of 118%. Landed properties showed a year-on-year rise of 34%.
In terms of overall private property transactions, Singaporeans accounted for 76% of all purchases. Foreigners and expats made up about 22% with the rest going to companies and others.
Foreign buyers are mostly from Malaysia, Indonesia, China and India. In particular, the proportion of Chinese and Indian nationals has shown a steep rise. In 1999, they made up just 6.6% of total transactions by foreigners but last year that had increased to 27.3%.
Experts said the rising number of purchases by foreigners could also be due to home prices here being more attractive than in cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo. ‘The opening of the integrated resort and the strength, resilience and stability of Singapore’s economy during the recent downturn could also be plus points,’ said Christine Sun, senior manager of research and consultancy at Savills Singapore.
‘The market sentiment in the earlier part of 2009 was rather bullish. Many locals were buying due to pent up demand, and expats and foreigners could have ridden on the positive market sentiment and bought in as well,’ she added.

Jeffrey Hong, executive director of HSR Property Group, said another reason for the rise in transactions was simply that there are now more foreigners in Singapore. Figures from the Department of Statistics showed there were 533,200 expats and 1.25 million foreigners in Singapore last year, up from 449,200 expats and one million foreigners in 2007.