International property has always been a large portion of an investors’ portfolio, especially in key gateway cities. However, how has lockdown and travel restrictions hinder interest? How effective has virtual viewings been during the pandemic? Nicholas Keong, Head of International Project Marketing talks us through how technology has advanced in this day and age and the opportunities that come with virtual viewings.

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Hector Tan | Head, Marketing and Communications | | +65 6228 7337

Nicholas Keong | Head, Residential (International Project Marketing) | | +65 6228 6870

Edited Transcript:

Q: In the previous episode we spoke on Super Prime Properties in London and its increase in demand. London is not the only market your team is active in. Could you share which other gateway cities/markets you are predominantly active in right now?

As one of the oldest and most established real estate consultancies in the world, Knight Frank has a global network of 532 offices in 60 different countries providing our buyers with an excellent platform to access global residential markets, safely and seamlessly. Our team here in Singapore focus predominately on the key gateway cities of London, New York, Melbourne and Sydney; however as buyers continue to seek diversified portfolios, we also cover European cities of Berlin, Paris, Barcelona, and closer to home Bangkok, KL as well as Auckland further south in New Zealand which in-fact has seen increasing interest post circuit breaker in Singapore.

Q: Last year, we saw that the lockdown and travel restrictions did not do much to hinder interest in overseas properties, how do you see this panning out in the year 2021?

Property has always been a large portion a Singaporeans portfolio, therefore underlying interest for International property has and will continue to play a part in their portfolios as part of ones diversification strategies.  Lockdowns and travel restrictions have undoubtedly had an impact on transactions, however we are fortunate to have a wider range of digital tools available enabling our agents to engage with buyers in a meaningful way; presenting opportunities through virtual viewing, educating our buyers via webinars on the market, tax and mortgages, helping them make more informed decisions. With several vaccines in play, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and we should see optimism and sentiment improve throughout 2021.

Q: Now lets talk about the concept of Virtual Viewings, we know that selling properties require physical/on the spot viewings at the sales galleries, however last year we know there was some successful sales done even with this virtual viewings involved. Another term known as blind viewings. Do you see the concept of virtual viewings continuing to be a trending thing? Or more of a necessity thing moving forward? Especially with overseas properties. 

Singaporean buyers are very used to buying off-plan, even when purchasing their own homes, therefore for many years buying off plan has been a comfortable approach for investors purchasing in international markets.

In this day and age we and our buyers are fortunate to have a wide range of digital tools available where our agents were able to communicate and engage online, present opportunities using interactive display apps, as well as facilitate virtual viewings of show apartments – one which I believe will continue to be important even as we come out of the pandemic.

Q: Purchasing a property overseas does seem like quite the hassle right now in this day and age without that face-to-face interaction unfortunately. Now other than purchasing and letting, what other services could investors potentially consider? And how is the process of purchase? Slightly difference from how it was then compared to now.

Knight Frank provides the full suite of services, from acquisition, helping to arrange financing, provide furnishing solutions, leasing and property management and eventually resale. The process has always been the same, however in this day and age, we have digital tools available

Q: Well certainly with the inability to be physically present onsite overseas, I suppose all investors have to rely on property advisors such as yourself to provide such transactional services and even a higher level of market intelligence and insights. To sum things up, what are some advice you can provide to potential investors who are looking into growing their overseas portfolio? 

Despite Covid-19 and geo-political tensions still weighing in on global economies, our outlook is one that is largely positive. Property as an asset class always tends to fair well during times of uncertainty as investors gravitate towards stability and by in large more predictable returns. My advice to buyers looking into overseas markets, is to “buy-well”, target key cities around the world with strong underlying fundamentals, Cities whose economies have a track record of resiliency over time and stand to recover the fastest, and Cities with international appeal and liquid real estate markets.

Purchasing a property is an enormous investment not only financially, but one of time and energy, especially so when transacting in overseas markets. Especially in an uncertain environment, is the need for market intelligence, trusted advice and a partner in property with the right platform enabling buyers to make informed, sound investment decisions, transact seamlessly and safely. My team and I here at Knight Frank stand ready to help.