Hong Kong expats boost Singapore housing market as they flee strict Covid rules
Singapore’s leading property website expects to benefit from an influx of house hunters from Hong Kong, as expats fleeing the Chinese city’s strict Covid measures rush to secure prime residences in its rival financial center.
The managing director of PropertyGuru, which in March completed a New York listing backed by billionaires Peter Thiel and Richard Li, said the exodus from Hong Kong was driving up prices in Singapore’s most in-demand areas.
“In the pockets, it’s a high-demand, low-supply market, that’s for sure. If you wanted a [house] along [central area] Bukit Timah near British school, you’re screwed,” chief executive Hari Krishnan said in an interview.
Rising property prices in Singapore could improve the outlook for PropertyGuru, which has suffered a drop of almost a fifth in its share price since listing via a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company.
The company charges real estate agents higher fees to list the most expensive properties, and should therefore benefit from the price increase.
But Krishnan said new demand was concentrated in certain neighborhoods, with areas not favored by expats unlikely to see similar growth. House price growth in the city slowed to just 0.4% in the first quarter of this year, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, after the government introduced measures such as higher property taxes to cool the Marlet.
“There is real estate available. You can get it at an affordable price,” Krishnan said. “If you choose to live in specific enclaves that are all Australian, all British, all Indian, whatever, that’s your choice. These are oversubscribed.
Since Singapore began easing Covid-19 restrictions in October, it has received a wave of white-collar workers seeking to escape quarantines and other measures associated with Hong Kong’s continued pursuit of zero Covid.
Foreign investors are also returning to Singapore’s property market, which has long been one of the most popular places for foreigners to park their money. Krishnan said PropertyGuru plans to expand beyond the consumer market and sell its data to institutional investors.
“Singapore is a crazy property country. There is more money in real estate than in the stock market,” he said, adding that foreign investors were attracted by the stability of the city’s politics, economy and legal system. -State.
Krishnan was speaking a week after his company raised around $254 million in its New York debut on March 18, following a merger with special purpose acquisition firm Bridgetown 2, backed by Thiel and Li .
PropertyGuru, which scrapped plans to list Australia in 2019, went ahead with listing in New York despite a global decline in tech stocks and growing regulatory scrutiny of Spac listings.
Despite PropertyGuru’s share price falling since listing, Krishnan said Thiel and Li’s support has given the company “phenomenal access to sophisticated investors in North America and North Asia”.
“The business is much stronger than it was in 2019,” he added. “We have successfully listed the company on the world’s largest stock exchange, so we consider this a successful endorsement.”