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Mainland Chinese Big Buyers of Singapore Homes

Mainland Chinese buyers have emerged as the biggest group of foreigners buying residential property in Singapore this year, according to the latest research from global real estate services firm DTZ.

A cyclist bikes past a newly built condominium project in the Bukit Timah district of Singapore, on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011.
Munshi Ahmed| Bloomberg | Getty Images
A cyclist bikes past a newly built condominium project in the Bukit Timah district of Singapore, on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011.

Over April to June, residential property sales grew a strong 20 percent from the previous quarter, with the Chinese buying 640 properties during that period — 100 units more than in the first quarter of the year, according to the report.

Buyers from the Mainland accounted for 26 percent of all purchases made by foreigners.

An agent from Singapore-based HSR International Realtors, Huang Xiao Qiong, told CNBC that she gets on average 10 clients a month from mainland China and so far this year, she has already sold local properties to 20 Chinese buyers.

"They don't get one house, most of them actually get a few," Qiong said. "One will be to stay in, and the rest will be for investment — whether it is to rent or just to keep until the price goes up."

Thirty-two-year-old David Wei, from China's northwestern Heilongjiang province, who has been working in Singapore for the past couple of years, said that he has been looking to buy an apartment in Singapore for some time now.

He feels property prices here are less volatile than in China and has sold his property in China in order to invest in a two-bedroom apartment in Singapore, which he sees as a long-term investment.

According to Qiong, Chinese businessmen like investing in Singapore, attracted by the island nation's good governance and legal system.

"When they have a bit of cash they think it's safer to put it Singapore," Qiong said.

She added that many people from mainland China also like to send their children to Singapore to study. "Many wives and children stay back in Singapore, while husbands spend most of their time doing business in China," Qiong said.

Connie Chai, Assistant Vice President at DTZ Resale, who's sold more than 10 units this year to mainland Chinese clients, said buyers usually look for a three or four bedroom apartment to live in or as a holiday home, but for an investment they prefer to buy smaller one or two bedroom units.

Barter Mu, 39, who has been living in Singapore since 2007 said he decided to buy a two-bedroom apartment in December last year after his family joined him from Shanghai.

"I think the price was reasonable, because otherwise I had to rent," Mu said. "Also for the long term, I think [prices] still can increase, and I can get a profit from the investment."

While growing in popularity with Chinese buyers, Singapore still has some catching up to do compared with Hong Kong, where mainland Chinese accounted for nearly 10 percent of all property sales in the first half of this year, according to one of Hong Kong's largest real estate firms, Centaline Property. Mainland Chinese made up 7.6 percent of total sales in Singapore during the second quarter of this year, according to DTZ.

But foreigners are continuing to drive up demand for high-end residential properties in Singapore. In the second quarter, foreign buyers made up 43 percent of all properties that were sold for S$1.5 million (US$1.2 million) or more. Whereas 75 percent of all properties that cost S$500,000 or less were bought by Singaporeans in the April to June quarter.

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