'Rent prices have tumbled': Expat shares insights on property market after 24 years here as realtor

'Rent prices have tumbled': Expat shares insights on property market after 24 years here as realtor
PHOTO: The Straits Times, YouTube/Max Chernov 

Over the past few months, Singapore's property costs have stayed painfully high and both locals and foreigners alike have been feeling the pinch. 

But is the market showing signs of cooling off?

Juliet Stannard, who is the co-owner of a multi-million dollar agency in Singapore's real estate industry, shares her insights in an interview uploaded to YouTube on Aug 13 with content creator and entrepreneur Max Chernov. 

The British expat has resided in Singapore since 1993 and has seen our little red dot change over the last three decades. 

"When we first came here, Singapore was obviously much different. There were a lot more underground places to go and you would go to hotels if you wanted to have a really decent meal out," she recounted. 

Singapore's fluid property market 

When asked about Singapore's property rental market situation, Juliet shared that while it was crazy in 2022, things may be looking up. 

"Last year, rents have doubled in a lot of places. It was still going up [in the] beginning part of this year, but literally, in the last four weeks, rents have tumbled. They've literally fallen off a cliff," she revealed. 

She explained that this may be because there has been a market correction due to the supply of new properties that have been completed. 

Back in April, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said that residential rent increases should ease in the coming quarters as more homes are completed and rental demand moderates in their biannual macroeconomic review. 

Demand is likely to abate as a significant number of residential units are completed and Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs) vacate their rental units to move into their new homes.

Adding to that, Juliet also notes that fewer foreigners are moving to Singapore as well.

"We had a lot of expats from Hong Kong last year, a lot of mainland Chinese, a lot of people coming in, in the last 18 months, and that has slowed." 

On top of that, it is the time of the year when foreigners typically leave Singapore at the end of the international school terms. 

"It's the big year-end, so a lot of people are going away and leaving Singapore." 

Which areas to rent in this market? 

Currently, property rental prices are still "fairly high" and Juliet predicted that it will not go down to where they were two years ago. 

She revealed that there are specific neighbourhoods like Sentosa, where the high prices have not budged because the demand for rental property there is "still very popular". 

However, there are also other local neighbourhoods where prices are becoming more negotiable. 

"They will correct more, I believe, towards the end of this year and early 2024," she said.

"But it takes a few months for the landlords to start accepting the fact that they're not getting these peak prices anymore."  

If you're looking for a home to rent, Juliet recommends areas like East Coast, River Valley, Pasir Panjang and Keppel. 

Another piece of rental advice from Juliet is to look at older properties if possible, especially if you need a bigger space. 

"The brand new properties are always much smaller. So, every time they build a new building, it's smaller and smaller and smaller," she explained. 

"I would always advise people to go for something a little bit older because you'll get more space," she said, adding that it may be cheaper than renting brand-new properties too. 

Thoughts on the new stamp duty tax for foreigners 

Juliet also touched on the changes in the stamp duty tax, which recently changed overnight from 30 per cent to 60 per cent for foreigners

"To be honest, probably less than 10 per cent of buyers in the residential market are foreigners so the majority of buyers are Singaporeans," she explained. 

"And the government has to be seen to be helping Singaporeans and locals."

She also shared that unless you are a permanent resident, it's expensive to invest in Singapore property. 

"Unfortunately, foreigners, they're going to be hit with a huge stamp duty unless they are permanent residents."

"The government hasn't made it very easy. But again, it's geared towards helping Singaporeans and permanent residents to buy here, rather than foreigners," she reiterated. 

Despite this, many foreigners still invest in Singapore because "it is seen as a very safe, long-term place to invest money". 

"A lot of other places in Asia, they can swing wildly depending on the political situation, other geopolitical kind of reasons. But Singapore is always seen as a very safe, long-term investment," Juliet elaborated.

Retire in Asia or return to the United Kingdom? 

While Juliet has considered becoming a citizen here, the single mother has held back because her children are all British passport holders and she does not want to hold a different passport from them. 

"Otherwise, Singapore is one of the best passports in the world to have. It outranks the British passport, certainly after Brexit," she shared. 

However, as much as Juliet loves Singapore, she may not stay here for the rest of her life. 

"It is a very expensive place if you're not earning an income. Because you can obviously live much more cheaply, but as an expat, even as a permanent resident, you're not entitled to a lot of the benefits that the locals have," she explained. 

So, when she eventually retires, it will probably be back to the United Kingdom for her. 

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