Sunday, August 20, 2017

Property brokers eye offshore condo sales

Local property agents are expanding further into Singapore’s condominium market, taking the opportunity presented by a change in visa regulations, contained prices and a friendly regulatory environment.

A property salesperson shows a potential buyer the plans for a condo development. Photo: StaffA property salesperson shows a potential buyer the plans for a condo development. Photo: Staff

However, demand for purchasing property overseas is still lagging.

Myanmar investors currently represent less than 1 percent of the foreigners buying into the Singapore property market, according to a report from the Singapore Real Estate Exchange.

CEO of KAE Alliance real estate agency U Kyaw Min says property purchases by Myanmar citizens have traditionally been rare across most foreign markets.

“Very few Myanmar buyers have bought homes in European countries or Australia, the US or the UK,” he said.

Since 2013 foreign real estate agents from around Asia, as well as the US and Europe, have sought to sell property to the Myanmar market. They have typically targeted Myanmar’s wealthy.

The US government’s EB-5 Immigrant Investor program has paved the way for Myanmar’s rich to get US green cards and permanent residency through investing real estate sector.

The Myanmar Real Estate Service Association’s general secretary Daw Moh Moh Aung says there has been a slight increase in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore in recent times. However, this has largely been from longer-term residents and workers.

“The rate of buying housing in those countries is rising within [the last] two years. Some Myanmar people who already have permanent residence are buying units with bank installments,” she said.

U Kyaw Min Zin says condo prices have dipped on previous years, and regulatory changes make now the time to buy.

His firm has units in three luxury condominiums set to go on sale to Myanmar investors this week.

While the visa waiver program will make things easier for those travelling regularly between the two countries, U Kyaw Zin Min says it will also allow greater opportunities for businesses and education.

“Myanmar and Singapore will be visa-free [by] December,” he said. “Going by the laws of Singapore, investors in the real estate market or the buyers of condo units do not get permanent residence ... But [after the visa regulation changes, it will be] easier to stay in Singapore for education or to open companies.”

Foreigners have been permitted to buy condos in Singapore since the condo law was enacted in 1995. In 2013, a new law was enacted that forbids foreigners from offloading their units within four years of purchase. U Kyaw Zin Min says this has kept market prices in check.

The condo law states that for foreigners buying completed units, the full price is due within two months. If the unit is under construction at the time the deal is struck, 85 pc must be paid up front with the remainder to be paid after eight months.

For Kyaw Zin Min, the regulatory environment being conducive to offshore sales is but one of the island nation’s charms.

“Singapore is one of the best countries at Asia and also the world for all sectors [including] economic, education, religious and transportation,” he said. “And its real estate market is good to invest because it has a detailed condominium law for foreigners.”

U Nay Min Thu, CEO of iMyanmarHouse.com. said there is still potential in getting local buyers to look overseas.

“Some investors buy units in foreign countries to invest in the real estate market, but some buy for convenience like for their children to live when they attend university abroad or work,” he said.