The country’s sheer size has kept real estate prices relatively attractive for overseas investors, especially Singaporeans who have always been enticed by the prospect of maintaining proximity to home. The effects of the weakening Ringgit on the Singapore Dollar over the last several years is also a much appreciated factor. That being said, the rest of Asia is taking notice as well. According to a report by property consultancy Cushman & Wakefield, China has slowly but steadily overtaken Singapore as the biggest overseas investor in Malaysia from 2014 to 2016, accounting for 46% of real estate investments in the country.
To allow for investments and foreign talent to enter the country, the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) scheme has allowed foreigners to live in the country on a long-stay visa of up to 10 years that is for the most part renewable. The visa requires applicants to possess liquid assets of a certain amount as well as a minimum income, which will allow their spouses and children (below 21 years of age) to be applicable as well.
From a Singaporean perspective, apart from proximity and median prices, the appeal of Malaysia for property investments is relatively obvious. With Singapore implementing cooling down measures to regulate the local property market as well as the minimum cash down payment for second or subsequent housing loans, Malaysia seems to be a viable alternative bolstered by foreign-friendly property ownership procedures. Couple all this with both countries having similar cultures and languages as well as a prospective rapid rail linking both countries and investors’ interests have been piqued.
Not always one that comes straight to mind when speaking of overseas investments, Thailand’s real estate market has been rapidly emerging as a viable opportunity for Singaporeans to venture into. The rest of Asia is participant as well, China coming in at 3rd place in terms of overseas property investments.
Although it has seen its fair share of political upheaval, Thailand’s property sector has been resilient, growing steadily year-on-year across virtually every segment. Compared to many other regions in Asia, the country provides an inexpensive alternative together with a globally central location and sound infrastructure that add to its appeal considerably.
One of Thailand’s leading developers, Sansiri, is fully aware of the relatively untapped investor market in Singapore. This quality developer has opened an office here to cater to a growing pool of local investors showing keen interest in the Thai market.
Singaporean investors have long looked to Australia to acquire property, with both Sydney and Melbourne proving to be highly popular locations to invest in. The country’s property sector has enjoyed consistent growth with an average annual growth rate of 7% per annum over the last 40 years.
Despite recent cooling measures (stricter lending criteria for foreigners) that have made property accrual harder for overseas investors, Singaporeans are still showing keen interest. A recent survey by online real estate portal iProperty revealed Australia as the favourite overseas market among investors from Singapore and Malaysia.
Analysts attribute this popularity to multiple factors such as the lure of a relatively stable economy, overall perceptions of lower risk, higher yields and interest rates currently being at a record low. Australia is also a key destination for overseas education, increasing its propensity for successfully occupied rental properties.
With emerging economies coming of age and governments becoming increasingly cognisant of the fact that overseas investments into local property will only serve to bolster their respective economies, we should see more and more developments being marketed to Singaporeans looking to diversify and park their funds in an alternative medium. Factors that one should always be aware of are the economic, social, as well as regulatory environments that one is investing in.