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Why Invest in Singapore

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There have been a lot of people coming out to speak about the Singaporeproperty market, from analyst to coffee shop talk, many with differing opinions.However, the common take is that the market has reached its saturation point.In this article, I hope to bring some light into the Singapore property market andas far as I can see, I do feel that the property market will continue to rise for agood 3 to 5 years at least (especially in high end market)



Why Investing in Singapore for the next 3-5 years is still a good bet. Opinion by Colin Tan ColinTan Training and Consultancy (Updated 5 April 2010) Introduction There have been a lot of people coming out to speak about the Singapore property market, from analyst to coffee shop talk, many with differing opinions. However, the common take is that the market has reached its saturation point. In this article, I hope to bring some light into the Singapore property market and as far as I can see, I do feel that the property market will continue to rise for a good 3 to 5 years at least (especially in high end market) In 2005, I said that the prices of landed properties in Sentosa would eventually become more expensive than Good Class Bungalows (GCB); many people industry thought that I’ve lost it. Today, considering the sizes as well as the 99year tenure of these Sentosa landed homes, they are truly more expensive than GCB.

The Reasons Globalisation With globalisation and the increase in travel, a new breed of people known as the ‘Global Citizens’ are born. These are the people who have a majority share of the wealth in the world and are major investors and buyers of all the high-end properties from around the world. It is widely accepted that 20 percent of the people in the world own eighty percent of the wealth. These people will play a very major role in influencing the price of properties in the high-end property market in Singapore as they have done globally. How are high end property prices determined globally? Simple, demand and supply. A lot of people seem to hold to the idea that the prices in the high end market will invariably pull up the prices of the mass property market. Because of this theory, they cannot envisage the property prices in the mass market becoming out of reach to the masses; and since the theory is that the prices for properties in the high-end and mass market is somewhat connected, these people feel that the prices for the high-end property market cannot go too high as it is unthinkable for the prices in the mass market to be beyond the reach of the middle-class. This is like saying that the prices of Nissan would be affected by the increase of prices for Bugatti or Ferrari. Though they are both cars, the profile of their buyers cannot be more different. The buyers for properties in the mass market are average guys while those in the high end market have got nothing to do with the average guys; they are meant for the super rich! What the super rich buys will

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have no effect on prices of products that the average guys buy in most cases including property. Some would argue that the measures and government policies like CPF, Deferred Payment Scheme and other changes that have been implemented is a sign that the government is trying to control the price of property in general. Well, if you read between the lines, these measures are really meant to control the property prices in the mass market. It is easy to understand the need for these measures as we do not want the prices of properties to be out of reach for the average Singaporean. However, I believe the government is not really bothered if the rich wants to pay $1.5M for a car or $15M for an apartment. Another factor that a lot of people look to is the historical performance as a gauge of the property market and its potential growth. This is by far one of the most ridiculous ways to determine the property market’s potential. It is often heard that just because Singapore has never experienced property prices at a certain level; therefore once that level is breached, you’d expect prices to drop. How can this argument be true? One must understand that the Singapore ten years ago is not the same with the Singapore of today and the Singapore three to five years from today will not be the same as the Singapore today. The Singapore government has undertaken to transform Singapore to a lively and exciting city to attract the global citizens and the world’s rich. The Singapore of the past used to be boring, sterile and unattractive to the global citizens and other foreign talents that the Singapore government has been trying to woo for years. In recent times, the Singapore government has begun to realize that governmental, social and economic stability is not enough to woo these people. They’ve finally realized that men truly do not grow up, they just get old and that boys do wanna have fun! Since then the government has taken many bold steps to transform Singapore into a playground; not just for the masses, but for the very rich and famous. Their aim is for Singapore to become like Tokyo, Hong Kong, New York, London, etc. When that happens, the property prices will match that of those cities mentioned above. These super rich will come in to buy properties in our city as they choose to spend more time here. These super rich will compare the prices of properties to cities that have similar appeal and demand by other super rich and that, by the way, is the fundamentally correct way of determining the prices of properties from around the world. Therefore the prices may even reach levels of between $7000 psf to $10,000 psf. Who are the people who pay S$10,000 to S$15,000 psf for properties in London, New York, Hong Kong, Moscow and so on? You got it, they are the same guys around the world; the same guys that drove the prices up in the high end markets

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in these areas. If they start to feel that Singapore is like a second home, they will come. Let’s examine the factors that will transform the city of Singapore. Transforming factors Below are some of the changes that have taken place over the last few years which shows the government’s relentless effort to turn Singapore into a very attractive and fun to be in city like that of the many major cities in an attempt to stop the brain drain and to attract foreigners that can contribute to the development of Singapore. As I expand on some of the points below, you will start to see a little bit of London, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney, etc. Transforming the city to a vibrant and lively place to work, live and play. 1) Allowing commercial properties to be redeveloped into residential properties to encourage more people to live and play in the city and hence bringing life to the city. This is still in the transition stage as many of the developments are not completed yet. At the moment the government has temporarily stopped allowing commercial properties to be redeveloped into residential properties in an attempt to counter the shortage of commercial properties due to the current economic climate. When more residential properties are completed and occupied, our city will be a very beautiful and lively place similar to Hong Kong, New York etc. 2) More Lifestyle Homes Meant for The Super Rich With the release of land in Sentosa to cater to homes meant for the Super Rich and allowing foreigners to buy these properties and at the same time giving the buyers Permanent Residence status, the sign is non clearer that we are going all out to attract not only the super rich from the west, but also the new super rich from China, India and all of Asia. 3) Theatres and the Development of the Esplanade Theatre (a little bit of London, Broadway, etc) a-la the Sydney Opera House and encouraging more performing artistes and talents to Singapore and also relaxing the immigration policies to encourage these group of people to come. It is no secret that the theatres are very important way of life to the Global Citizens. 4) 24-hr licensing for watering holes to promote Singapore as a fun place. We’ve also seen more international names like Café Del Mar, MOS, etc coming to our shores. Zouk Out has been recognized internally for some time now while we also have WOMAD. What makes it so important for the government to have to spend precious time to deliberate on whether to allow for pubs and discos to be opened for 24hrs?

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5) Change in Censorship Ratings In 2004, The Singapore Government changed the censorship policy by allowing ratings like M18 and R21. This is also a clear sign of us moving towards being a truly Global City

6) 360 hectares development of the Marina Bay area to Explore, Exchange and Entertain (a little bit like Central Park or Hyde Park)

Marina Bay – Garden City by the Bay “Located at the Southern tip of Singapore, Marina Bay is a 360ha development designed to seamlessly extend Singapore’s downtown district and further support the city-state’s continuing growth as a major business and financial hub in Asia. A greenfield site surrounded by water and gardens, Marina Bay provides an opportunity for further urban transformation, attracting new investments, visitors and talent, as well as becoming a new destination for the local community. Marina Bay has been designed with people in mind, with a 24/7 vibrancy that will include the highly anticipated Integrated Resort (a destination attraction offering world-class hotel, convention, leisure and entertainment facilities, and casino) as well as other residential, commercial and entertainment developments. Marina Bay will be a place for people from all walks of life to explore, exchange and entertain. There will be apartments set amidst lush greenery near Singapore’s waterfront. The local community and visitors alike can enjoy the parks, waterfront promenade and attend the events and celebrations held at the Bay. State-of-the-art office space and

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transport infrastructure will provide seamless connectivity for companies and professionals to grow and exchange business ideas. It will be place with a loop of attractions and round-the-clock energy that continues during and outside office hours.” http://www.marina-bay.sg/explore.htm 7) Singapore Flyer (a little bit of London) “The Singapore Flyer will transform the visual landscape of the surrounding Marina Bay area. In addition to the Singapore Flyer, construction on Asia's largest business and financial centre has commenced and a world-class Integrated Resort (casino) is due to start operations in 2009. The Marina Barrage (a dam built across Singapore's Marina channel) is also due for completion.” http://www.singaporeflyer.com.sg 8) Casinos Singaporeans have been doing fine without a casino on our shores for over 40 years. So you think that our government spent so much time debating about the casinos for the entertainment of Singaporeans? No! To tell the Global Citizens that Singapore is a place like home for them. A playground for the Rich and Famous!
“In the past year, talk of remaking the Singapore economy has accelerated with plans to venture into new areas such as promoting the city-state as an educational hub and medical hub, and most recently it has even begun to step into Islamic finance and banking ''As other countries begin to catch up, Singapore needs to move ahead constantly to sustain its competitiveness,'' said Mukul Asher, professor at the new Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. ''The casino will allow diversification of the economy. Singapore is just trying to have as many pillars for the economy as they can and they see casinos as one of the pillars that will sustain future growth,'' he said And the attraction of casinos is that unlike factories, which are more vulnerable to restructuring and relocation, casinos tend to be more entrenched investments . Economists say it also would make Singapore a more attractive place for tourists, especially tourists from China, which is now one of the fastest growing sources of tourists for Singapore . The casino would also be a boost for related sectors such as retail and hospitality and offers the potential to create more jobs than many of the high-tech manufacturing plants in Singapore. Some say a casino would also provide a lucrative new source of tax revenue for the government, which ran into budget deficits in three of the last four years, and give it greater leeway to reduce corporate taxes further to maintain economic competitiveness.” COPYRIGHT 2005 Kyodo News International, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale Group

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9) Integrated Resorts and Theme Parks (a little bit of Hong Kong, Gold Coast and Florida) This is another element that is going to change the façade of Singapore thus making Singapore fun, attractive and recognized internationally; just like Florida or the Gold Coast are recoginised internationally primarily for their renown themeparks. 10) Formula 1 (a little bit like Monaco) The Formula 1 has given Singapore an added buzz. It is definitely a race that people look forward after the successful race in 2008 as it is the 4th street race in the 2008 F1 calendar; the other being the Monaco, Melbourne and Valencia F1. However, the Singapore F1 has been hailed to be more exciting than Monaco F1 with many overtaking opportunities; unlike the Monaco F1 which appears more like a glorified procession with little overtaking opportunities. It has already been suggested that Singapore’s F1 is the Crown Jewel of the entire F1 calendar. This will definitely give Singapore a lot of exposure and give Singapore a lot of appeal. 11) Light Up The City

On the 21 Nov 2006, Our Government announced the plan to incentivised developers who incorporates external lightings to enhance the nightscape of the Singapore skyline to transform Singapore into a vibrant and stunning city like that of Hong Kong, Tokyo, etc. 12) M.I.C.E. – (Meeting, Incentive, Convention and Exhibition) Singapore has in recent years become a major player in the world for holding major world events, conventions and exhibitions. In 2005, we had the 117th International Olympic Council Session where London won the rights to host the 2012 Olympic Games.
“Over 1,100 (local & international) media personnel representing nearly 330 media organisations from over 35 countries around the world were covering the event from the Raffles City Convention Centre during the Session. The significant presence of international wires and broadcasters in Singapore contributed tremendously to the

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extensive 'live' coverage (to 1 billion viewers), which helped put Singapore on the World map. The 117th IOC Session started on July 6. On July 9, IOC president Jacques Rogge, in his closing media conference gave Singapore a big pat on the back the Belgian added, “All my colleagues were ecstatic about the quality of the organization, the quality of the hospitality.” It was the second public commendation Mr Rogge had paid the organizers. At a dinner for IOC delegates organised by the Singapore National Olympic Council and the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, he had this to say of the hosts: “You have, what we say in skating, a perfect six.” As Canadian television said, “A star-studded event has placed Singapore in the centre of the sporting universe.” In a report entitled “Singapore A Secret Winner In Olympic Bidding War”, Sid Duguid, writing in Media, said, “As Paris gave a collective Gallic shrug and London secured the greatest prize in sport, the award goes to Singapore for hosting the 117th IOC Session. “I have only respect and admiration for those well-groomed citizens delivered a slick, stylish and professional event that the world must applaud. ” (http://www.singapore2005ioc.org.sg/)

In 2006, Singapore hosted the IMF and World Bank meeting of the Board of Governors.
“Event organisers expected a turnout of about 16,000 delegates and observers, but saw a record 23,000 delegates and 300 finance ministers registering themselves, the largest turnout for an overseas annual meeting.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_2006)

13) Singapore – The Biopolis of Asia
“BOSTON, 9 MAY 2007, Singapore continues to thrive as a vibrant location for scientific talent. Significant efforts and resources have been committed to attract and develop talent. Singapore adopts a pro-international and pro-local approach. A dynamic research environment, robust ethical framework, strict laws for the protection of intellectual property rights and quality of life, are some of the key reasons why a growing number of scientists are drawn to Singapore. Over the past five years, Singapore has attracted an impressive list of internationally prominent scientists to lead the nation's biomedical sciences research and development efforts.” (http://www.biomed-singapore.com) Other Bioscience Developments in the news in 2007 18 Dec - Association of Clinical Research Professionals Inaugurates Chapter in Singapore 5 Dec - Eisai, the First Japanese Pharmaceutical Firm to Open Regional Clinical Research Centre in Singapore 19 Nov - Hill-Rom Announces Singapore will be Site for Asia-Pacific Innovation Center

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29 Oct - Novartis opens new pharmaceutical plant and intends to build biotech facility in Singapore 25 Oct - Codexis Opens Singapore Laboratory 24 Aug - Schering-Plough - A Distinguished Partner Driving Singapore's Biomedical Sciences Sector 21 Aug - Merck & Co., Inc. Opens Asia Pacific Regional Headquarters in Singapore 14 Aug - A*STAR and NUS establish new Clinical Imaging Research Centre with Siemens as industry partner 23 May - Affymetrix Selects Singapore For Its First Manufacturing Facility Outside The United States 22 May - West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. strengthens Asia Pacific presence with S$45 million investment in Singapore facility 9 May - Singapore continues to attract top scientific talents 8 May - Singapore attracts four major biologics manufacturing investments totaling close to US$1 billion in less than two years 7 May - World's leading pharmaceutical companies make significant expansions to their corporate research laboratories in Singapore 4 Apr - Bio-Rad increases presence in Singapore with its first Asia-Pacific manufacturing facility 29 Mar - Lonza and Bio*One Capital celebrate the groundbreaking of their second manufacturing facility in Singapore 28 Mar - Singapore Biologics Industry gets boost with Genentech's decision to set up Singapore's first Microbial-Based Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Facility 26 Mar - Lilly Expands Drug Discovery Efforts in Singapore 20 Mar - GlaxoSmithKline Opens New Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory at Singapore's Biopolis to Boost Research Capabilities in Neurodegenerative Disorders 1 Feb - Fluidigm Singapore launches Biomedical Product Development Centre

14) Singapore as an Education Hub of the World Singapore has always been recognized in the region as having one of the best educations with probably one of the highest percentage of educated people over the population in the region as well. Here are some of the significant developments in the last few years
“The University of Chicago, whose Asia campus sits in a restored 121-year-old traditional Chinese estate, is just one of a growing field of offshore institutions in Singapore.

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Others include France's INSEAD, Johns Hopkins, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University and Technische Universiteit Eindhoven of the Netherlands.” "Singapore is booming. However, its growth as a global economic and business centre requires the availability of quality international schooling opportunities for the children of the global talent that Singapore is keen to attract," says Kishore Mahbubani, Chairman, UWCSEA Board of Governors. "Hence, a second campus will both enable the College to spread the values of the UWC movement further and Singapore's economy to soar to greater heights." 1 January 2008 “There was more than one reason to celebrate at the official opening of S P Jain's Singapore campus. Its presence marks the first Indian tertiary institution to have its own campus in the Republic. What's more, the school's projected first year student enrolment has already been surpassed, S P Jain is one of India's top business schools offering post-graduate programmes in management, with campuses in Mumbai, Dubai and now, Singapore.” 1 June 2007 “The largest hotel college in the United States, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), will set up its first international campus in Singapore.” 1 July 2006
“DigiPen Institute of Technology, the renowned American computer animation and programming school, will establish an Asian campus in Singapore The fruition of this milestone development will not only make DigiPen Singapore the first and only campus outside the US, but also the first institution here to offer specialised degree-level courses for game development. 1 February 2006

“In a move to develop Singapore's global schoolhouse, National Technological University has signed an agreement with Waseda University to launch a one-year master's degree programme in business administration This collaboration marks the first time a Japanese university is offering a degree programme outside Japan Waseda University joins the prestigious ranks of top international universities that are currently offering joint degree programmes in Singapore, such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Duke University from the US, and Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.” 1 May 2005

15) Singapore as Medical Tourism Hub Singapore plans to become a leading Medical Tourism Hub lead by Singapore Medicine, a multi-agency government initiative. Besides direct economic benefits, spill over should be experienced in the property sector as well as many other sectors. To reach a level where Singapore can accommodate the needs of 1 million medical tourists, more facilities would be needed. Singapore would also see an increase in expatriate doctors, nurses, support and administrative staff. That would mean an increase in demand for properties for purchase or rent.

WHO Rates Medical Tourism in Singapore Singapore: A Leading Medical Tourism Hub “The tiny island nation of Singapore has emerged as an Asian medical tourism hub in the past decade. With an average of 200,000 patients arriving for treatment annually, its

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revenues from medical tourism stand at US $3 billion. The healthcare offered by this nation is the envy of Asia. Singapore prides itself on its 11 JCI accredited hospitals and world-class expertise in all fields of medicine. Singaporean healthcare attained its zenith when its doctors successfully performed a 90hour long operation to separate conjoined twins. It was an unprecedented procedure and effectively heralded Singapore as a leader in healthcare and medical tourism.” (http://www.healthmedicaltourism.org) Medical tourism boom takes Singapore by storm The tiny island of Singapore, having a populace of 4.4 million, is fast positioning itself as a medical tourism hub. Attracting about 200,000 overseas patients every year, Singapore Medicine, a multi-agency government initiative, is strategising to increase the number manifold. The authorities are ambitious of serving one million foreign patients annually by 2012 and generate USD 3 billion in revenue The private sector hospitals here are the true centres of excellence known for providing world class treatment and having state-of-the-art infrastructure and the best possible medical expertise. (http://www.expresshealthcaremgmt.com)

16) Population Increase to 6.5 Million With the government’s attempt to increase the population to 6.5 million people, we’ll invariably see an increase in demand for property in the mass market as well as the central districts mentioned. Singapore will benefit from this critical mass increase with the increase in the consumer market. From many of the initiatives above, we’re already seeing an influx of many highly qualified people coming to ply their trade in Singapore; with the increase in the consumer market, more business setups would be seen in the next few years to take advantage of this accelerated population growth. Even though you’d expect most of the demand from these new Singapore citizens, permanent residents and expatriates to be for properties in the mass market, many of the businessmen, CEOs and the rich who start or relocate their business to Singapore would be more interested in the properties located in the financial, shopping and lifestyle districts thus driving the prices up further.

17) Strong Economic Climate
Singapore Retains Title as the World’s Busiest Container Port for 2007 SINGAPORE has narrowly retained its standing as the world's busiest container port, after staving off a strong challenge from booming Shanghai. 'The past few years have been bountiful for the maritime industry in Singapore and 2007 was no exception,' said Transport Minister Raymond Lim, adding that the local port was tops as well in terms of bunker, or ship fuel, sales and vessel calls. 'Singapore continues to maintain its leading position The Straits Times, 11 January 2008

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Singapore enjoys steady flow of billion-dollar investments Global big names ranging from drug maker Novartis to oil giant ExxonMobil put down huge sums on big investments in Singapore, including bricks-and-mortar assets as well as research and development activity. GABRIEL CHEN assesses some of these mega deals FINLAND'S Neste Oil is investing 550 million Euros ($1S.15 billion) to build a biodiesel plant in Tuas, which will be the world's largest. The Straits Times, 27 Dec 2007 S'pore more attractive as hub for MNC manufacturers: US US Commerce Dept attributes this to implementation of bilateral free trade pact Singapore has become even more important to American multinational corporations as a manufacturing hub, according to the US Department of Commerce As reported earlier in BT, US MNCs' net income in Singapore ($18US.2 billion) in 2005 was the largest for US MNCs in Asia US MNCs' value added in Singapore is larger than in China ($14US.61 billion), which has become the world's factory. It's the third largest in the region, behind Japan ($47US.86 billion) and Australia ($31US.74 billion). US MNCs' value added here accounts for 15 per cent of Singapore's GDP. Business Times, 18 December 2007 Singapore is the most cost-competitive place for business
Source: KPMG Competitive Alternatives Study, 2006 According to a study by accountancy firm KPMG, Singapore is the most cost-competitive business location among nine industrialised countries. The bi-annual study - which covers 128 cities in nine countries - indicated that Singapore was 22 per cent cheaper than the benchmark United States. KPMG's 2006 Competitive Alternatives study analyses 27 cost components, including wages, freight, business taxes, rent and utilities.

Singapore is the World’s easiest place to do business Source: World Bank report: "Doing Business 2007: How to Reform" Singapore is the "Best Business Environment" spot in Asia Pacific Source: EIU Country Forecast, January 2007 World's 2 Most 'Network Ready' Country Source: Global Information Technology Report 2005/06, World Economic Forum Singapore: 2 Most Technologically Ready Nation in Asia Source: Global Competitiveness Report 2006-2007 Most competitive Asian Economy and 2nd most competitive economy in the World Source: World Competitiveness Report 2007 Best Labour Force in the World Source: BERI's 2007 Labour Force Evaluation Measure (LFEM) report Singapore: 1st in the World for Quality of Air Transportation Source: World Competitiveness Yearbook 2006 Singapore is World's Most Globalised Nation Source: A.T. Kearney/FOREIGN POLICY Magazine Globalization Index 2006 Singapore Ranks No. 1 in Perceptions of Corporate Governance Standards Source: Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, June 2006
nd nd

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See the latest of the rankings at:

Other Telltale Signs 18) Fund Manager’s and Investors’ Activities In recent times, we’ve seen more and more properties bought in volume. Many of these buyers are fund managers and large investors. On top of that, we’ve seen more buyers of diverse nationalities flocking to Singapore; people from the US, the Europeans, etc. In the past we don’t see as many of these people. In the past, most of the people who bought properties in Singapore tended to come mostly from Indonesia and Malaysia whilst the Americans and Europeans would probably bought properties here more for their own use and not so much like now where they are buying to invest. 19) Lack of Disparity in price between the prices of properties in the mass market compared with the high-end market Another sign that I feel is a good indication that the prices of properties in our financial, shopping and lifestyle district can go up much more is the lack of sufficient disparity between the prices in the mentioned regions versus the mass market property prices. In many developed economies, you’d find property prices in the highmarket to be ten times or more that of the mass market. I.e. today, you would need to pay as much as ₤6000($18,000) per square feet for a property around Knightsbridge in London and for a small cottage in a suburb half hour away, you probably only pay the price of an HDB flat. In KL, a similar condominium costing RM$2,000,000 would probably go for RM$200,000 around the Ampang area. The difference is 10:1. Therefore based on the examples above, it would not be surprising to find that the prices for properties in the suburb to remain around $1,000 per square foot and below while the prices for properties in the 3 major areas to go up to $10,000 per square foot.

20) Interest Rates Finally, another telltale sign is the interest rate. Interest rates normally would rise with the prices of properties. In most developed countries you’d see interest rates for mortgage to be from 5% to 10%. At our peak, we’ve seen ours to be about 7%. Right now, interest rates are still hovering Copyright 2007 ColinTan Training & Consultancy

between around 2 odd percent. My gut feel is that there’s still more room for growth; including the price of properties in the three main regions. Conclusion Many people looking at the current readjustment as an indication that the price of property has reached saturation point. I feel that nothing is further from the truth Many of the government initiatives, redevelopment of certain areas, vibrancy to the city, Singapore as a fun place to live, IRs, population increase etc are all still ‘under construction’ and we cannot feel the real impact until everything thing is in place. But do you want to wait before that happens? Analyse the above 20 points I’ve given and you can decide for yourself. You may already notice that I’ve been talking about the three main regions. That’s why you’ always hear people say that when buying a property, must consider 3 things; location, location and location. However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the mass market. One major factor that would contribute a little (you notice I said ‘a little’) to the increase in the prices for the mass market properties would be the increase in our population. As for the three regions, I won’t be surprised to see the prices soar between $7,000 to $10,000 per square foot and even more.

Copyright 2007 ColinTan Training & Consultancy

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