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Ultra high net worth investors may see Singapore as a safe haven

Ravi Philemon

A recent report by List Sotheby’s International Realty (List SIR) said that in world of turmoil with the pending BREXIT and the protests in Hong Kong, ultra high net worth investors may be viewing Singapore more favourably.

The report noted that Singapore’s luxury market has been in the news lately after British Billionaire James Dyson made waves by purchasing the Wallich Residence super penthouse at a price of $73.8 million.

Sir Dyson, who is chief executive of Dyson Ltd, bought the most expensive 99-year-leasehold penthouse situated on a 62nd to 64th floor in Wallich Residence. The three-storey penthouse comes complete with a private infinity pool, jacuzzi, barbecue pit, and private lift lobby.

ultra high net worth investors

Image credit: Orange Tee

Sir Dyson bought the most expensive 99-year-leasehold penthouse for a whopping S$73.8 million and he occupied the of the property with his wife on 20 June 2019.

Ultra high net worth investors, the Dyson couple are permanent residents of Singapore, and so don’t have to pay the increased levies imposed on foreigners for buying property in Singapore.

“Given the decision to locate the headquarters in Singapore and the growing focus of the company’s business in the region, of course James Dyson has bought a property there,” a company spokesman told Reuters when asked about Dyson’s purchase of the most expensive 99-year-leasehold penthouse.

Dyson had announced in January that he is moving his headquarters from Britain to Singapore to be closer to the company’s fastest-growing markets. The company said in October 2018 that it planning on building its first electric car in Singapore. Wallich Residence, the development on which the most expensive 99-year-leasehold penthouse is located, is in the heart of the Central Business District of Singapore.

Two weeks later, news broke that Sir Dyson had forked out another S$41 million for a hilltop Good Class Bungalow (GCB) located along Cluny Road with views of the Botanic Gardens, Singapore’s first and only UNESCO Heritage Site.

List SIR noted that what makes this GCB deal an even greater surprise is that landed properties in Singapore, including the 2,800 plots located in the 39 GCB areas gazetted by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), are classified as restricted properties and are limited for purchase and ownership by Singapore Citizens only. Besides their rarity, GCBs also come with strict planning conditions stipulated by the URA to preserve their exclusivity and low-rise character.

Even ultra high net worth investors, such as the Dysons, need to get special approval from the government to purchase and own GCBs because they are permanent residents. Criteria include making exceptional economic contributions in Singapore and the buyer can only use the GCB for owner occupation.

According to the Singapore Residential Property Act, foreigners are not allowed to own landed 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. Foreigners are allowed to own apartments in Singapore.

More recently, a GCB plot in the prestigious Nassim Road area was bought by SG Casa Pte Ltd for a record $230 million. The price for the sprawling land of 84,543 sq ft land works out to be S$2,721 psf. The plot of lands comes with a two-storey bungalow, a tennis court and swimming pool. The site has a road frontage that is nearly 100m, and can be redeveloped into four or five bungalows.

List SIR in referring to media report suggested that the party behind SG Casa could be Eduardo Saverin. Mr Saverin became a Singapore citizen in 2012.

Besides Dyson and Saverin, another famous name that has been making rounds in Singapore’s media landscape was Jack Ma, who is said to have purchased a 30,000 sq ft site at Victoria Park Close. The Alibaba co-founder is supposedly building a two-storey bungalow with a basement and swimming pool.

The report by List SIR said, ” in light of the geopolitical tensions in Hong Kong and United Kingdom, there could be increased interest from more foreign ultra high net worth investors, the likes of Sir Dyson. 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.”

Mr Paul Ho, chief mortgage consultant at iCompareLoan, said, “with political stability, it is understandable why Singapore looks attractive to ultra high net worth investors.”

He added, “Singapore’s business-friendly environment also attracts many ultra high net worth investors to park their assets here.”

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