Ultra-rich foreigners scramble for luxury homes in Singapore

The purchase of two luxury homes by British billionaire James Dyson may just be a sign of more big-ticket purchases to come.

Foreign ultra-high-net-worth (UHNW) investors are expected to drive sales activity in Singapore's luxury residential segment as geopolitical tensions in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom enhance the attractiveness of posh homes in the city state, according to luxury residential brokerage firm Sotheby’s International.

Also read17% of the world's ultra-rich want new homes in Singapore

In early July, British billionaire James Dyson snapped up the Wallich Residence super penthouse for a record $73.8m. The 21,108-sqft, triplex super penthouse occupying the 62nd to 64th floor of the Guoco Tower is reportedly the largest penthouse and the highest residence in Singapore. Two weeks later, Dyson purchased another luxury home, a hilltop Good Class Bungalow (GCB) located along Cluny Road with views of the Botanic Gardens, for $41m.

More recently, a sprawling 84,543-sqft GCB plot in the prestigious Nassim Road area was sold for a record $230m or about $2,721 psf. It was formerly owned by Cheng Wai Keung, the Chairman of Wing Tai Holdings, and his wife Helen. Whilst the buyer is reported to be trustee company SG Casa, media has speculated that the buying party was Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook. 

Saverin, who became a Singapore citizen in 2012, had earlier bought a 10,269- psqft super penthouse at SC Global Developments’ Sculptura Ardmore for $58m or $5,648 psf in 2017.

Also read: Luxury transactions drive residential property sales in Q1

Joining the elite list of affluent individuals with residences in Singapore is Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s co-founder Jack Ma, who reportedly purchased a 30,000-sqft site at Victoria Park Close, where he is said to be building a two-storey bungalow with a basement and swimming pool.

Singapore permanent residents, such as the Dyson, need to get special approval from the government to purchase and own GCBs. Criteria include making exceptional economic contributions in Singapore and the buyer can only use the GCB for owner-occupation.

Also read: Two exclusive GCBs in District 10 and 21 up for sale

Meanwhile, the Singapore Residential Property Act states that foreigners are not allowed to own land properties, which include bungalows. However, foreigners are allowed to own the bungalows at Sentosa Cove, a planned resort island to attract high-net-worth (HNW) foreign investors. No such rule applies to foreigners owning apartments in the island-city.

"Singapore's solid economic fundamentals, sound financial framework, ease of doing business, quality education and racial harmony continue to make it one of the choice locations for potential foreign investors," said Sotheby's. 

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