As uncomfortable as New York City’s rent hikes feel to many tenants now, they don’t compare to the soaring prices of Singapore’s prime rental market, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Rents have continued to climb higher and higher in New York City over the last several months, spurring new records on what feels like a far too regular basis.

But as uncomfortable as New York City’s rent hikes feel to many tenants now, they don’t compare to the soaring prices of Singapore’s prime rental market, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Rent for prime residential properties, or the top 5 percent of a market, rose faster in the island country to close out 2022 than both New York and London, with a 28 percent increase in rent growth year over year. By comparison, New York saw annual growth of 19 percent and London of 18 percent, according to the Q4 2022 Prime Global Rental Index report by Knight Frank.

However, rent hikes in Singapore have varied widely from landlord to landlord in recent months for some tenants hitting 100 percent, causing anxiety and duress when it comes time to inquire about a lease renewal.

That was the case with Sally Shoult, a 39-year-old freelance copywriter from the U.K. who leases in Singapore.

“I’d been hearing horror stories,” Shoult told The WSJ. “I was of two minds about whether I should even ask.”

After getting in touch with her landlord, Shoult’s real estate agent relayed the news: The landlord was willing to renew their lease (her and her significant other) at a 25 percent discount off of his asking price, which was 100 percent more than what they were currently paying. That hike would have made their rent nearly $10,000 per month. Shoult wasn’t exactly up for that, she explained on TikTok, so she’ll be moving out.

@salshoult It’s my turn to feel the burn of the SG rental market! #sgexpats #sgrent ♬ original sound – Sal

The most significant price increases seem to be hitting large private condos in central neighborhoods, spurred by an influx of wealthy expats. Following a few years of living through the COVID-19 pandemic elsewhere, many expats started to return to Singapore last year. New immigrants also came in from Hong Kong and mainland China, using the country’s real estate as a safe haven for their investments as tensions mounted between the U.S. and China, The WSJ explained.

Prices were exacerbated further by increased demand from Singaporeans, just as more expats started returning to the compact island, which is only about a quarter the size of Rhode Island and has a population of 5.6 million. Since construction stalled during the pandemic, many locals began shelling out more and more cash for short-term rentals while waiting for their homes to be completed.

Rental bidding wars ensued as demand came to a head.

“I was scared to drive because my phone wouldn’t stop ringing,” Amy Zeng, an agent for ERA Realty Network, told The WSJ. Zeng said her inquiries increased tenfold, and renters were often placing huge deposits down, sometimes sight unseen.

As more renters like Shoult have decided enough is enough, and new units continue to come to market as they’re completed, things have already started to cool slightly. Still, rents are significantly elevated from 2021 as Knight Frank’s report indicated. The typical 750-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment in the central district rents at an average of $3,205 a month, local property firm 99 Group told The WSJ.

Real estate agents are also realizing that prices are getting out of hand and having to decide when to say no. Noam Nathan, a marketing director for ERA Realty Network, told The WSJ that he had to turn down a property owner who wanted to enlist Nathan’s services to rent out a rundown condo for a price that Nathan thought was far too high.

“I’m not a magician,” Nathan said.

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Email Lillian Dickerson

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