Local property agencies close but Singapore's overseas investment rises

Singaporeans' property investments in 2015 saw a record spike

In yet another sign of a cooling of the Singapore property market, it has emerged that more than 100 property agencies shut their business and over 3,500 agents have left the industry in 2015.

Records with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) showed that there were 1,369 estate agents and 29,262 registered salespersons working in the industry last year.

While 3,006 new salespersons joined the industry in 2014 the number decreased to 1,299 in 2015.

"This could be a reflection of the property market sentiments," Heng Whoo Kiat, director for planning and licensing at the CEA, told the Business Times.

Earlier, a Reuters report had said foreign buying in Singapore residential properties had also cooled of late.

The number of foreigners who bought homes in Singapore dwindled last year to the lowest level since the global economic slowdown in the last decade.

Even the Chinese home buyers who form the major portion of foreign home buyers in Singapore, were less inclined in the last quarter, Reuters has reported citing the latest data.

Foreigners, including permanent residents, bought 499 homes in the fourth quarter of 2015, Reuters reported, citing data compiled by consultancy DTZ. This leaves the market to depend on local buyers at a time when domestic interest rates are on the rise.

However, Singaporeans' property investments abroad bucked the trend, with 2015 witnessing a record spike in Singapore-based investors' property purchases abroad.

According to real-estate data and analytics firm Real Capital Analytics (RCA), Singaporeans' property buying abroad amounted to a record $26.31 billion (S$37.83 billion), a rise of 49 per cent from the previous year.

While big ticket purchases by heavyweights like as GIC and Global Logistic dominated the deals last year, smaller developers and family offices also increasingly turned towards overseas assets, Asiaone said.