Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Some Alexis buyers offer units in subsalemarket

Other developers try to ride buying wave by relaunching units at lower prices

(SINGAPORE) The Alexis condo sold like hot cakes last week and now a few buyers at the fully sold project are trying to flip their units in the subsale market, notwithstanding the fact that Singapore is in the throes of its worst recession.

These buyers are seeking prices about $100 per square foot above what they had paid, translating to a net gain of around 10 per cent, property agents estimate.

Ripples from the strong sales momentum generated for the 293-unit freehold condo, comprising mostly smallish units costing between $420,000 and $800,000, spread to showflats of several other small and mid-sized developers. Some of them trimmed prices to give buyers an incentive to commit to a purchase.

The mini home-buying wave sparked earlier this month by Frasers Centrepoint's launch of its Caspian condo in the Jurong Lake District, has led other developers to speed up launch plans for new projects, or to relaunch existing ones, with a price cut.

This weekend, GuocoLand will relaunch The Quartz condo near Buangkok MRT Station with a price cut of nearly 10 per cent.

The 625-unit, 99-year leasehold project is slated to receive Temporary Occupation Permit in a few months and is left with 182 units. For a start, GuocoLand is likely to push out about 60-odd units, all three-bedders and most of which will cost below $650,000. The average price of the units to be relaunched will be about $595 psf, compared with an average price of $650 psf that GuocoLand was selling the project at during the height of the market in 2007.

The project is being marketed by CB Richard Ellis and ERA.

In the River Valley area, Fortune Development has sold 12 units at RV Suites since Saturday. The 96-unit freehold project's average price is $1,300 psf and most of the units are smallish, at about 500 to 550 sq ft and cost about $630,000 to $730,000. This brings total sales in the seven-storey project to 42 units, according to Fortune general manager Victor Soh.

Over in the Shelford Road area, East Coast Properties sold 14 units at D'Chateau
@ Shelford during the weekend at an average price of about $1,000-1,100 psf. Units cost between $900,000 (for a three-bedroom apartment) and $1.7 million (for a penthouse). About half or 16 of the total 31 apartments in five-storey freehold project are now sold, said the company's managing director Alvin Ng.

Macly Capital is also said to have sold about 10 units over the weekend at Newton Edge.

Property market watchers say specuvestors may have been drawn to Alexis, near Queenstown MRT station, by developer EC Prime's decision to offer buyers an interest absorption scheme without charging any premium (usually buyers have to pay about 3 per cent more for such schemes), as well as the relatively affordable investment sums for the mostly smallish units.

However, EC Prime's director Melvin Poh refuted talk in some quarters that the company generated demand from agents who bought units, and that a substantial number of buyers picked up multiple units.

'We have checked our sales records; there were only two families that bought multiple units - one family bought five units, and the other, three units. The rest of the buyers all picked up one unit each.

'If agents from Huttons (Alexis's marketing agent) or their close relatives bought, they would have to declare to us, and so far there have been none,' Mr Poh said.

Alexis's buyers were mostly Singaporeans and EC Prime, a joint venture between Yi Kai Group and Fission Group, has given them up to three weeks to decide whether they would like to opt for the interest absorption scheme (IAS).

Buyers had to pay 5 per cent of the purchase price when they booked a unit, that is, when they were issued an option by the developer. Eight weeks later, they will have to pay up another 15 per cent, with no further payment (under IAS) until the project receives Temporary Occupation Permit in about three years.

Those who do not exercise their options will forfeit a quarter of their 5 per cent deposit. For a $500,000 unit, that will amount to $6,250.

Those who buy on IAS will have to immediately sign up for a home mortgage with United Overseas Bank, and the credit assessment is expected to sift out financially weak buyers.

'Alexis has drawn investors. Based on our sale prices, they could earn about 5-6 per cent yield from renting their units, given the location near an MRT station close to town,' Mr Poh said.

Source: Business Times - 18 Feb 2009

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