Sweeping Views Above Central Singapore
$4 MILLION (5.5 MILLION SINGAPORE DOLLARS)
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 seventh district — an area now being revitalized, with prewar buildings being renovated or replaced by new developments — the Concourse 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 Concourse 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.
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.
Who Buys in Singapore
Mr. Gafoor, citing government figures, said that most buyers in Singapore come from mainland China. The second largest market is Malaysia, and the third is Indonesia. The rest come from countries including India and the U.S.
Ms. Han said that based on government statistics, about 20 percent of the buyers of residential properties in the Core Central Region are foreign. About 65 percent of the buyers of that area’s luxury offerings are permanent residents of other countries.
As part of its effort to regulate the real estate market, and because of its small surface area, Singapore imposes certain restrictions on foreign buyers.
For private residences, “Foreigners are permitted to purchase an apartment or condominium units in and around the city, or apartments and houses at Sentosa Cove. For other properties, for example detached houses, foreigners need to first obtain approval from the Land Dealings Approval Unit before making their purchase,” said Peen Fung Lim, a director of Yuen Law LLC, a Singapore law firm, via email.
The process typically takes between several weeks and several months, he said.
Denny Lin, the legal general manager with Apex Law, a Singapore firm, said being a permanent resident and making an economic contribution to Singapore can help one’s chances of approval, which is administered on a “case by case” basis.
There are two modes of owning residential property in Singapore: Some homes are purchased in perpetuity, with a freehold title. The other option is leasehold, whereby properties are typically leased for either 99 or 999 years. A longer lease term fetches a higher price, Mr. Lim added.
Buyers and sellers each retain a lawyer, who typically charges a flat fee. For a 5 million Singapore dollar ($3.6 million) property, Mr. Lim estimated the lawyer’s fee would start at 5,000 Singapore dollars ($3,600), in addition to a 7 percent goods and services tax.
Buyers must pay a stamp duty, the rate of which is based on the purchase price or market value, whichever is higher. In addition to the base stamp duty, foreign buyers from most countries — excluding citizens of the U.S. and citizens and permanent residents of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland — pay an additional 20 percent in buyer’s stamp duty.
As an example, Mr. Lim said, a property valued at 5 million Singapore dollars would incur a stamp duty of approximately 165,000 Singapore dollars ($120,000), and an additional 1 million ($725,000) if the buyer is foreign and not from a country exempt from the additional stamp duty.
Mr. Lin added that sellers, not buyers, pay real estate commission. Buyers needing a mortgage pay associated fees of several hundred dollars, which are sometimes folded into the legal fee.
Languages and Currency
Chinese, English, Malay and Tamil: Singapore dollar (1 Singapore dollar = $0.73)
Taxes and Fees
Monthly condominium fees are about 390 Singapore dollars ($285), plus a 7 percent goods and services tax. Annual property taxes depend on whether it is owner occupied or rented out. If this condominium is owner-occupied, the estimated tax would be 114,000 Singapore dollars ($83,000), Ms. Han said.
Veniz Kwong, List Sotheby’s International Realty Singapore, (011 65) 9455 6592
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