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Luxury apartment sales hit 11-year high: Report

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Demand comes from Chinese millionaires seeking stability, say experts

SINGAPORE Sales of Singapore apartments worth at least $10 million have hit an 11-year high, fuelled by demand from Chinese millionaires seeking safe-haven assets, say property consultants OrangeTee & Tie.

In the first eight months of this year, 68 condominium units here were sold for $10 million and more, the highest tally since the corresponding period of 2008.

Sales of such apartments also exceeded the numbers racked up for each full year from 2011 to 2018, the consultants' analysis of transaction data shows.

Some buyers may have sought an alternative to rival financial hub Hong Kong, hit by protests, while others may have shifted funds from China after the yuan was devalued in a trade war with the United States, an OrangeTee expert said.

"This may explain why we have observed more foreign buyers, especially mainland Chinese, coming into Singapore lately," said head of research and consultancy Christine Sun.

Mainland Chinese are the biggest group of foreign buyers of Singapore luxury homes.

In Singapore's prime districts, Chinese citizens bought 76 apartments worth more than $5 million each in the period from January to August, versus 75 purchases by Singaporeans.

Expensive apartments in premium neighbourhoods are mainly bought by foreigners, because at such high prices Singaporeans have the option to buy landed property.

Singapore does not allow foreigners to buy landed homes, except on the resort island of Sentosa.

"We do see that even though the stamp duties have increased... we are still seeing people putting big money on these apartments. Predominantly it is more for stability than anything else," said Mr Boon Hoe Leong, chief operating officer of high-end realtor List Sotheby's International Realty.

He was referring to measures Singapore adopted last year to cool its real estate market, such as hiking additional stamp duties for foreign buyers to 20 per cent from 15 per cent.

"They are parking their money here - they know that the Sing dollar won't depreciate overnight," he added. - REUTERS