International Finance
Real Estate

Hong Kong property investors eye markets outside Singapore

Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand are the choices of investors avoiding Singapore's surging prices

Hong Kong property investors concerned about protests are seeking housing in cheaper markets such as Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand. Singapore’s surging property market is not very appealing to those Hong Kong investors, according to media reports.

For nine consecutive years, Hong Kong has held its position as the world’s least affordable property market. The rising property prices could be one of the reasons for investors to look outside the special administrative region.

Singapore is also an expensive real estate destination because of addition costs while such as buyer’s stamp duty. Since July 2018, foreigners purchasing residential property in Singapore pay extra 20 percent stamp duty.

In the second quarter of 2019, Singapore property prices surged 1.5 percent quarter-on-quarter to reach a five-year high — even after the government introduced cooling measures in July 2018.

Hong Kong property investors purchased only 12 apartments in Singapore for the first half of the year compared to 32 purchases for the same period last year. The purchases between July to August gradually reduced to four as street protests intensified, observed ERA Research & Consultancy.

“People here tend to think there are only two cities in the world — Hong Kong and Singapore,” Alan Cheong, executive director at Savills told the media. “They think if people flee Hong Kong, they’ll all automatically come to Singapore. But everyone isn’t Li Ka-shing. Most are just ordinary salaried workers.”

The cost of a property in central Kuala Lumpur is estimated around $358 per square foot, while an apartment in Singapore would be $1,080 or more. Taiwan is appealing because of dominant Chinese population, however. Investors looking to shift from China or Asia would consider properties in the West.

Hong Kong property investors are also attracted to Malaysia’s property market because of its weather, good education, and cultural mix of both Asia and the West. That said, Singapore has an active resale market for professionals who can afford the market’s cost.

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