Saturday, April 18, 2009

Early birds flock to Parc Lumiere

Developer says it may open bookings today if queue grows longer

HUNDREDS of potential buyers queued overnight at the Parc Lumiere site in Simei hoping to secure one of the new condo-like apartments that are not due to go on sale until next Tuesday.

An estimated 200 people had joined the line by 5pm, hoping to land a unit in the latest project developed under the Design, Build and Sell Scheme (DBSS).

Buyers do not have to chance a ballot like in usual DBSS developments but can book a unit on the spot. The average selling price at the Parc Lumiere is $425 per sq ft.

Two tents sheltering rows of chairs have been set up outside the project's show flat - one for those interested in 'booking' a flat and one for those who want a viewing.

The booking tent was teeming with interested buyers yesterday.

Developer Sim Lian Group, which brought in extra cooling units and gave those queuing free lunches, planned to start bookings on Tuesday but may end up opening bookings today if the queue lengthens.

'I'm overwhelmed,' said Sim Lian executive director Diana Kuik. 'We didn't expect them to come on Friday before seeing the show flat.'

The walk-in-selection process - a first for new flats in recent years - involves a basic pre-screening process while certain conditions must be met before buyers can book a unit.

They must then pay a deposit of 5 per cent of the purchase price. The final confirmation of a buyer's eligibility will be determined by the HDB.

Flats will be booked on a first-come first-served basis, which is why potential buyers like Ms Florence Lim turned up at 8am yesterday.

The assistant sales manager, who is in her 40s, took leave to queue and was intending to stay overnight, taking turns with her husband and son. She was first in line and hopes to get a five-room flat.

'I've aimed here for a long time, ever since I applied for The Premiere (at Tampines) but was unsuccessful,' she said.

Ms Queena Tan, 30, who works in advertising, said she preferred a new DBSS unit to a resale HDB flat, adding: 'I like this area as it's rather peaceful and accessible.'

Ms Tan and her fiance will take turns to queue and they plan to stay in line until the booking period begins, even if it is not brought forward to today from next Tuesday.

'With the upcoming university and the development of Changi Business Park, we expect increases in the prices of houses in this area. That's why we feel it is a good investment,' she added.

Some in the queue jumped at the chance to buy a flat that did not require too much extra work.

'We want the balcony and the fittings, and it's in move-in condition so we don't need to fork out extra to renovate,' said bank executive Cheong C. H., 30.

Ms Kuik of Sim Lian believes the small number of units available - 240 five-roomers and 120 four-room units - 'maybe makes some buyers anxious'.

'There could also be some pent-up demand as there have been no new HDB flats in Simei and Tampines for the past 12 years, with the exception of The Premiere @ Tampines,' she said.

Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said the strong response 'is another indication that the buying interest in the mass market is still quite buoyant'.

He added that the purchasing power of some first-time buyers may limit the take-up rate of the four- and five-room flats.

'It's going to be interesting, seeing as there are no three-room flats. Four-room flats will probably sell quite well but five-room flats may need some demand from HDB upgraders.'

The four-roomers at 1,012 sq ft each are priced at between $378,000 and $425,000. Five-room flats range from 1,152 to 1,195 sq ft and are priced at between $462,000 and $575,000 each.

March sales of private homes revealed that HDB upgraders were the most active group of buyers. It may be that this group is also interested in DBSS projects, which offer condo-like fittings at what is perceived to be a slightly lower price.

Source: Straits Times, 18 April 2009

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