House Hunting in … Singapore – The New York Times

House Hunting in … Singapore - The New York Times

On the sovereign island-nation, government measures have kept markets in check, but more luxury development means higher prices.

A Soaring Perch in Singapore

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By Roxana Popescu

Sweeping Views Above Central Singapore


This four-bedroom, four-and-a-half-bath condominium is on the 30th floor of the Concourse Skyline, a multi-tower, mixed-use development on Singapore’s southeastern waterfront.

The 2,174-square-foot apartment overlooks many of the city-nation’s signature attractions, including the Singapore Flyer Ferris wheel, the Singapore Sports Hub and the Gardens by the Bay. Completed in 2014 in Singapore’s District 7 — an area now being revitalized, with prewar buildings being renovated or replaced by new developments — the Concourse Skyline is close to museums, restaurants, schools and the island’s business district.

“It’s quite a nice area, a mix of old and new,” said Huan Mei Han, the head of research for List Sotheby’s International Realty Singapore, which has the listing.

The apartment is divided into three spaces, with two bedrooms at one end, common spaces in the center and two bedrooms on the opposite side. The open living and dining rooms have marble tile floors and a wall of glass with sliding doors that open to a spacious balcony overlooking Marina Bay. The kitchen, with off-white counters and De Dietrich appliances, is off the dining room, along with an adjacent half-bath.

Down a small hallway past the kitchen, two bedrooms have large windows. One has a walk-in closet and an en suite bathroom with panoramic views of a different swath of the city. The other bedroom uses a hall bathroom. A small hallway leads to the other living area, with a smaller bedroom, bathroom and study, as well as the master suite with an adjacent study.

The development has 360 units, including six penthouses. The development’s amenities include a 164-foot pool, a Jacuzzi, wellness facilities, meditation deck and sauna, green open spaces with barbecue grills, and a pond on one of the rooftops. The development also has a covered bridge to the Nicoll Highway Mass Rapid Transportation station. Singapore Changi airport is about 25 minutes by car.

Market Overview

The sovereign city-nation of Singapore has a highly diverse population of about 5.6 million residents and one of the world’s highest rates of homeownership, due largely to a robust public-housing program that allows residents to own homes subsidized by the government.

Historically, government steering has kept the housing market stable, said Ismail Gafoor, the chief executive of PropNex Realty, Singapore’s largest private real estate company. Following the global financial crisis of 2008, for example, prices dropped by about 30 to 40 percent before rebounding within a year, Mr. Gafoor said, after the government boosted demand for housing by incentivizing immigration for skilled workers. Singapore’s population grew from roughly 4.2 million in 2005 to 5.5 million in 2015.

An increase in the supply of public housing has also resulted in falling prices in that market.

In the private sector, prices have been rising. Only about 15 to 20 percent of Singapore’s housing stock is private, said Kent Soo, an agent with Real Center International Private Limited, a Singapore agency. Mr. Soo said private-sector prices have been rising since 2017, when many buyers who had been waiting to react to government measures implemented in 2013 — including a mandated reduction in debt — decided to enter the market.

In 2018, the market cooled when the government raised the rate of stamp duties that most foreigners, and in some cases locals, pay on residential real estate. (Buyers from the U.S. and several other nations were exempted.)

The private housing market in Singapore is now characterized by two trends: reduced volume, due in part to government efforts to maintain sustainable price growth, and a slight rise in prices caused by an uptick in big-ticket luxury transactions. Ms. Han said several new superluxury penthouses sold this year, raising the property price index.

Geographically, Singapore’s property market is divided into three general regions: the Core Central Region, which has the highest caliber and highest priced properties; the Rest Of Central region, which surrounds the core; and the Outside Central Region, where prices are typically lower. Agents also mentioned Sentosa, a neighboring island with luxury properties, where foreigners can buy landed properties without restrictions. However, Mr. Soo said Sentosa has been struggling to attract buyers, and prices have fallen there because people tend to prefer the Core Central Region.

In the Core Central Region, a two-bedroom, 1,000-square-foot apartment might cost 3 million to 3.5 million Singapore dollars ($2.2 million to $2.5 million), while in the Outside Central Region, prices for a similar two-bedroom typically range between 1 million to 1.5 million Singapore dollars ($725,000 to $1.1 million), Mr. Gafoor said.

Ms. Han said that newer luxury condominiums start at 5 million Singapore dollars ($3.6 million), or around 3,000 Singapore dollars ($2,200) per square foot.

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