Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Investors pick up higher-end condos

SOME high-end condominiums recorded sparkling weekend sales even though the overall property market was generally quiet in terms of new launches.

Of the two new previews, Illuminaire on Devonshire sold out its 72 units at $1,630 to $1,730 per sq ft (psf), while Verdure in Holland Road sold 14 units of 34 launched units at $1,400 psf.

The 12-year-old Gallop Gables saw far stronger than expected demand, with investors picking up 28 units, even though they are about $3 million or more each.

Previously, the new projects that have attracted fairly strong interest, given today's climate, were not in such prime areas. But some investors may be looking around now that the market has fallen quite a bit.

Mr Peter Ow of Knight Frank, which is marketing Verdure and Gallop Gables, said the response at these two sales showed individual investors are back.

'These buyers are savvy investors who are already staying in prime areas,' he said. 'Generally, the property market is still weak, but there are value buys around. And people are beginning to see value in well-located projects.'

Of 14 Verdure units that Bukit Sembawang has sold during the preview, a few are penthouses. While the overall project is priced at $1,350 psf on average, the 14 were sold at an average of $1,400 psf, or from $1.5 million to $2.8 million.

A scheme offering interest absorption was available without any extra charge. The project, which has 68 units, will be launched this weekend.

Over at Gallop Gables near Botanic Gardens, Straits Trading sold 26 units - 16 more than its target. It had offered only 10 units with a guaranteed rental yield of 7 per cent for two years. The rest were purchased without the 7 per cent guarantee, but mostly with existing tenancies offering a rental yield of 3 to 5 per cent.

The buyers paid between $3,075,200 and $3,840,000, or an average price of $1,220 psf for the units, which averaged about 2,800 sq ft.

The buyers were mainly residents ranging in age from the mid-30s to the late 70s who bought for investment purposes, said Straits Trading, which had earlier said the sales would generate cash to allow it to invest in distressed assets.

A few buyers, it added, said they may live in the apartments after the end of the two-year rental guarantee period.

At Illuminaire, the affordable price drew both investors and speculators, industry experts said. As it has only one- and two-bedroom units, ranging in size from just 441 sq ft to 721 sq ft, the total price was kept low - from $749,000 to $1.21 million.

EL Development managing director Lim Yew Soon said he had changed the design of the project from a 36-unit development to a 72-unit one last September. By then, a three-bedroom showflat had already been completed - and had to be reconfigured into a smaller unit.
'I realised the market would prefer small units,' he said.

Mr Lim, who bought one unit for himself and kept two for business associates, said most buyers were keen on the interest absorption scheme, which was offered at no additional cost.

Some buyers also liked the unusual automated car parking system. There are two car lifts that will store cars in an adjoining multi-storey carpark block.

Source: Straits Times, 14 April 2009

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