By Romesh Navaratnarajah:Residential property purchases made by foreigners from countries exempted from ABSD (additional buyer's stamp duty) rose in 1H2012, according to data released by CBRE.
These foreign buyers, including permanent residents (PRs), hail from the US, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Norway – countries that have free trade agreements with Singapore.
CBRE noted that the group accounted for 3.1 percent of all homes purchased by non-Singaporeans during the period, more than the two and 2.6 percent seen in 1H2011 and 1H2010 respectively.
Interestingly, US citizens emerged as one of the top five foreign property buyers, displacing Myanmar from the list.
"For US buyers, they could still be participating relatively strongly because their economy is performing well," noted Alan Cheong, Head of Research at Savills Singapore.
However, the absolute number of transactions done by ABSD-exempt buyers dipped, reflecting greater concern over economic health rather than on cooling measures.
Chua Yang Liang, Head of Research at Jones Lang LaSalle Singapore, said: "The volume of foreign buying, especially those in prime districts, had in fact shifted down gear even before the ABSD was introduced, largely on the back of the weakening global conditions."
Industry watchers noted that the volume of transactions from ABSD-exempt foreigners accounts for a very small section of the market; and hence is not a reflection of overall trends.
Nevertheless, the ABSD has been successful in reducing the number of foreigners buying properties in Singapore.
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