Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Upscale releases kick up average home transaction to $1.78m

As developers released more upmarket projects, the average transaction value of private homes sold in the primary market in the first two months of this year rose to $1.78 million per unit, a study by CB Richard Ellis shows.

This is 37 per cent higher than the $1.3 million average price of homes sold by developers for the whole of last year.

But the figure for January and February 2010 is still shy of the $1.97 million average price in the bull year of 2007, according to CBRE’s analysis of URA Realis caveats data on March 5.

Reflecting the pattern of developers migrating to releasing higher-end projects towards the end of last year – after kicking off the year with mass-market launches – the priciest home in absolute dollar terms sold in the primary market since January 2007 was transacted in November last year – a $33.41 million junior penthouse at Far East Organization’s Boulevard Vue project. The price of the 8,051 sq ft unit works out to $4,150 psf. The unit, which occupies the 30th and 31st levels of the 33-storey block, is believed to have been bought by Nippecraft non-executive chairwoman Linda Wijaya Limantara and her family. Nippecraft is part of the Asia Pulp & Paper group.

The unit’s absolute price surpassed that of the most expensive unit transacted in the primary market in 2007, when a 19th floor unit at The Marq on Paterson Hill sold for $31.4 million in July that year. That price equated to $5,100 psf.

As for last year, another high-priced primary market deal was a bungalow at Kasara The Lake, located at Ocean Drive in Sentosa Cove, which fetched almost $14.43 million.

In January this year, the most expensive unit transacted in the primary market was a fourth-floor condo unit at Marina Collection on Sentosa Cove, at $10.3 million (or about $2,200 psf). February’s priciest sale was a 16th floor unit at Urban Suites in the Cairnhill area – $10.43 million or $2,213 psf.

CBRE executive director Li Hiaw Ho reckons it is likely that the average dollar value of primary market transactions for the whole of this year will generally be above last year’s figure as more high-end projects are slated for launch this year.

Agreeing, Knight Frank chairman Tan Tiong Cheng reckons bigger units may gain appeal again as developers roll out high-end projects this year, a trend seen during the 2007 bull market.

‘However, a lot will depend on how rentals fare for large units,’ he said.

High-end projects primed for release this year include Seascape and The Residences at W, both at Sentosa Cove, phase 2 of Marina Bay Suites and a project at 76 Shenton Way in the downtown area, says CBRE. In the Orchard Road area, Ardmore III and projects on the sites of the former Anderson 18, Parisian, Grangeford and Beverly Mai are among expected launches.

Mr Tan also points to ‘the other end of the spectrum – shoebox units could be launched, which could drag down slightly the average absolute price per unit’ this year. However, their impact will not be significant as the number of such units, compared with total units launched by developers, is likely to be relatively small, he believes.

The lowest absolute price for a unit sold by a developer in the first two months of this year was $437,880 for a fourth-floor apartment at Suites @ Kovan in Upper Serangoon Road. The price for the 366 sq ft unit works out to $1,196 psf.

For the whole of last year, the smallest primary market deal was $305,860, involving a 441 sq ft unit on the second storey of Ventura View at Rambutan Road, off Still Road. It was sold in August last year.

Mr Li offers another reason that the average value of homes sold by developers this year is likely to surpass last year’s figure – more 99-year leasehold projects on recently sold Government Land Sale sites will be launched at higher prices because of their higher land costs and location attributes such as proximity to MRT stations.

CBRE’s study also shows that on a monthly basis, the highest average price in dollar terms achieved by developers since January 2007 was in March 2008, at $3.87 million. The lowest monthly figure was $761,082, in February last year. That was around the time that developers began testing the market with mass-market launches at attractive prices, after emerging from the darkest days of the global financial crisis.

By December last year, the average transaction price had risen to $2.16 million. It eased to $1.65 million in January this year before rising again to $2.08 million last month. However, the latest numbers may change as more caveats are lodged, analysts say.

Source: Business Times, 10 Mar 2010

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