a view of luxury condominiums along the water with boats in foreground in singapore
Luxury condominiums at the Keppel Bay Yacht Marina in Singapore.
Getty Images/tobiasjo

Singapore saw nearly $24 billion worth of real estate sales in the first half of 2021 as home prices spiked by a record 4.1%, Faris Mokhtar reported for Bloomberg. That's twice the recorded sales in Manhattan – the biggest real-estate market in the United States' largest city – in the same period.

During the pandemic, wealthy foreigners have continued to flock to the Southeast Asian city-state known for its low tax rates. Billionaires including investor Ray Dalio and Google's Sergey Brin have opened family offices in Singapore in the past year.

Some of the most high-profile real-estate deals, however, have been among affluent locals. In March, the wife of a Singapore tech founder paid about $96 million for a mansion on Singapore's ultra-exclusive Nassim Road. Last month, Grab CEO Anthony Tan paid over $29 million for a resort-style bungalow. And just last week, Singapore's Business Times reported that TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew was in talks to buy a $64 million bungalow in the affluent Queen Astrid Park area.

"Our high-end market is very resilient," Bruce Lye, the cofounder and managing partner at Singapore Realtors Inc., told Insider this spring. "Singapore is much sought after due to our safe-haven status for ultra-high-net-worth individuals. With amendments to the Global Investor Program and benefits of setting up family offices in Singapore, we will see many more eye-popping deals being inked in the near future."

a white gated mansion surrounded by palm trees on nassim road in singapore
A mansion on Singapore's exclusive Nassim Road.
Katie Warren/Insider

In New York City, which saw an exodus of an estimated 400,000 people in the early days of the pandemic, housing prices plummeted in 2020. By January 2021, Manhattan home prices were 6.2% lower than the year before and Brooklyn prices were down 5.4%, according to a report from StreetEasy. The median rent fell to its lowest price since 2010.

But the market has since mounted a swift recovery. Pamela Liebman, president and CEO of The Corcoran Group, told Insider's Natasha Solo-Lyons last month that Manhattan had its best spring season for closed sales in six years.

"A year and a half after the pandemic began, it's safe to say that New York City has its mojo back," Liebman said.

The two cities have had markedly different pandemic experiences. New York City, with a population of more than eight million, has recorded nearly 2.2 million COVID-19 infections and 53,750 deaths, data from Johns Hopkins University shows. Singapore, which has about 5.7 million people and has been known for its stringent lockdowns and containment measures during the pandemic, has recorded 65,836 cases and 42 deaths.

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