Thursday, January 8, 2009

1,200 luxury homes yet to find takers

A STOCKPILE of up to 1,200 luxury homes in prime districts remains unsold, adding to a growing supply overhang that is likely to drag prices lower this year.

That grim assessment of the very top end of Singapore's property market has been made by leading property consultancy CB Richard Ellis (CBRE).

However, it has also concluded that despite the challenging market conditions, some developers may be able to hold on to projects until the market recovers.

'Developers who are laden with unsold units in projects that were already launched would prefer to focus on clearing them rather than launch new projects,' it said.

'This would inevitably lead to price cuts,' the consultancy added.

CBRE is projecting a decline this year of about 10per cent in the prices of good-class bungalows (GCBs) - the most prestigious bungalow type here - and 10 to 15per cent price falls for luxury apartments.

Last year, 49 GCBs worth about $785million were sold, down from 87 GCBs worth $1.15billion in 2007 and 119 GCBs worth $1.23billion in 2006.

Average prices of GCBs hit $822 per sqft (psf) last year, up from $681 psf in 2007 and $501 psf in 2006.

The top-priced GCB deal last year was a 52,528 sqft Leedon Park property sold for $43.2million in May. On a psf basis, the most expensive deal was at $1,303 psf for a Leedon Road property, also in May.

CBRE said GCB prices hinge on the location and land characteristics.

Given the current downturn, buyers will be looking to pay competitive prices for GCBs, but fire sales will be hard to come by as most GCB owners have the capacity to hold, said director of luxury homes Douglas Wong.

The luxury apartment market also saw a drastic fall in sales last year, with just 1,096 caveats lodged. Government data showed this worked out to just 19per cent and 32per cent of sales in 2007 and 2006 respectively, said CBRE.

Caveats lodged for high-end apartments worth $1million to $3million stood at 777, which is about 22per cent of the 3,566 caveats lodged in 2007 and 29per cent of caveats lodged in 2006.

But a considerable number of more expensive homes were sold last year, with 82 caveats lodged for apartments worth $10million and above, though 63 were units in Nassim Park Residences. This compares with 143 in 2007, 22 in 2006 and none in 2004-2005.

Price-wise, new luxury projects saw average launch prices drop to $2,000 psf to $2,600 psf by the end of last year, from $2,000 psf to $4,000 psf in 2007.

Prices of existing luxury developments, such as Ardmore Park and Grange Residences, hit $2,000 psf to $2,400 psf, from $2,000 psf to $3,300 psf in 2007 and $1,600 psf to $2,000 psf in 2006.

Most of the luxury projects launched in early 2007 have been fully sold. But several projects remain on the market, especially those launched in the second half of last year when the sub-prime crisis hit.

As of last November, only 41 per cent of units offered at these launches had been sold.
This year, luxury sales activity is expected to be lukewarm, similar to the second half of last year, said CBRE.

Source: Straits Times - Jan 8 2009

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