Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Private home sales at new monthly low

Only 107 units sold last month, but sales for February good so far

THE property market continues its downward spiral with only 107 new private units sold last month - the lowest monthly total since data was made available in 2007.

A lack of launches from developers was partly behind the anaemic figure, which was well under the 131 sales in December and the previous low of 118 sales in October.

About 204 units were launched last month, up from 157 in December, but lower than the 12-month average of 518 units. No new prime projects were launched last month.

'An ominous pall of uncertainty is hanging over the industry,' said Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak.

'The diminishing number of units sold in the market not only reflects a heightened sense of prudence, but also an increased anticipation for prices to fall, thus causing potential buyers to stay on the sidelines.'

Last month's top sellers included Nova 88 in Balestier and The Aristo @ Amber, which sold 16 units and 14 units respectively.

The stronger demand for these projects could be down to their improved affordability, with median prices having eased slightly, said Jones Lang LaSalle's head of research for South-east Asia, Mr Chua Yang Liang.

But while last month was something of a dead loss, sales this month are already looking up, thanks to two successful launches.

The 712-unit Caspian - a short walk from Lakeside MRT station in Jurong - has racked up sales of 470 units since its release earlier this month. Prices at the 99-year leasehold condo started at $580 per sq ft (psf), and are now at $600 psf.

The 293-unit Alexis @ Alexandra, released for sale last week, is said to have been 100 per cent sold by last Saturday.

It was priced at $850 to $1,100 psf, but most of the units were small, and so came with a relatively low absolute price.

Prices ranged from $450,000 for one-bedroom units to nearly $1.8 million for the penthouses.
'Certainly, there is renewed confidence in the market for properties that are priced right, as many HDB upgraders and investors are able to pick up such units at a lower quantum,' said Mr Mohd Ismail, chief executive of PropNex, which co-marketed Caspian with ERA.

CBRE Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho said the success of the two projects could be attributed to their good locations, competitive prices and a creative mix of units.

The tie-up between banks and developers to offer the interest absorption scheme also helped stimulate sales, he said.

Some property consultants expect February to register the highest number of monthly transactions since late 2007.

But this performance is likely to be a one-off for now, said Mr Mak, who added that sales could begin to slow to a more sustainable pace.

Mr Li said: 'While the Singapore economy remains in recession, the continued moderation of prices should encourage potential buyers to come forward.'

That could drive first-quarter sales to 1,000 to 1,200 units, he said. Last year, developers sold just 4,287 new homes, down from a record 14,811 in 2007.

Source: Straits Times - 17 Feb 2009

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