Saturday, March 2, 2013

Demand for London homes draws UK firm here

The Straits Times  |  Mar 02, 2013

The huge demand for London property from Singapore buyers has prompted British property developer Berkeley Group to set up an office here.

The office in Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower Two opened on Thursday, and employs four permanent staff members.

Buyers from Singapore made up 8 per cent of Berkeley's London sales by volume last year and formed the largest proportion of foreign buyers. Hong Kong buyers accounted for 5.6 per cent, said Mr Piers Clanford, managing director of Berkeley Homes (Capital) in a phone interview yesterday. One factor could be the strength of the Singapore dollar against the pound sterling while another could be the recent cooling measures here.

Mr Clanford said about a third of its Singapore clientele buy London property for their children studying in the city, while around 60 per cent buy for investment purposes. The remaining 5 per cent are buying a second home.

Overall, overseas buyers form 40 per cent of its customer base.

In January Knight Frank had reported that Singaporeans bought more new residential properties in Central London than any other nationality last year, accounting for 23 per cent of transactions.

Mr Clanford said the firm was opening an office here to be in the same time zone as customers in South-east Asia, including those from Indonesia and Malaysia. It has a Hong Kong office too.

The firm told a briefing yesterday that Indonesia and China were the largest potential new markets for British property, noting that rental yields in London can range between 4 per cent and 6 per cent.The London-listed group posted a revenue of £1.04 billion (S$2 billion) last year, a 40 per cent increase on 2011.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C

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