SINGAPORE: The asking price for a new three-storey Singapore penthouse, complete with a private pool on the 64th floor, has reached a dizzying US$72 million.
Due to be formally unveiled later this year, Wallich Residence's penthouse is in the tallest building in Singapore, the island of well-heeled stability that attracts the super-rich from its less-developed Southeast Asian neighbours, as well as multi-millionaires from mainland China.
The 'bungalow in the sky' penthouse in the GuocoLand-developed Tanjong Pagar Centre, is likely to become Singapore's most expensive apartment. It will test the endurance of demand for luxury property in the city-state – the part of the market that has taken the biggest hit from measures aimed at cooling down property prices in recent years.
Prices for luxury homes in Singapore have fallen 15-20 per cent from a 2013 peak, according to JLL consultancy, part of the Jones Lang LaSalle global property services group. But JLL is now starting to see the prospects of a turnaround – at least at the top end of the market – and is forecasting a 3-5 per cent increase in luxury prices this year, citing demand from both locals and foreigners who feel the market is bottoming out.
JLL said the volume of transactions in the first four months of the year in Singapore's core central region, which is popular among wealthy foreigners and includes the Orchard Road shopping area and Sentosa island, was 35 per cent higher than in the same period last year.
"A lot of people think Singapore is value for money because it's been downhill all the way – such a long winter," said Chandran VR, managing director at a real estate agency specialising in high-end homes.
"Now they feel it is the right time to come in," he said. By contrast, he noted that Hong Kong apartment prices have been soaring, adding that "sensible investors will come here," instead.
GuocoLand Singapore Group Managing Director Cheng Hsing Yao said buying by foreigners has picked up since the start of the year at the developer's high-end Leedon Residence project, near the 150-year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens. GuocoLand is part of Malaysian conglomerate Hong Leong Group, headed by billionaire Quek Leng Chan.
"In absolute numbers, it may not be that huge, but the ticket sizes are actually quite significant for some of them," Cheng said. Some foreigners were buying homes worth S$8-12 million in the project, he said.
The recent tightening of property market controls elsewhere, such as in Hong Kong and Australia, has played a part in attracting foreign demand to Singapore's luxury property this year, Cheng said.
City Developments Ltd (CDL), one of the largest Singapore developers, also said the average sales price at its high-end Gramercy Park project has risen to more than S$2,800 per square feet in recent months, up 8 per cent from a year ago, and foreign buyers accounted for three-quarters of the project so far.
CDL's billionaire Chairman Kwek Leng Beng is a cousin of the Malaysian developer Quek. -- REUTERS