Friday, April 24, 2009

Secondary market buzzes as prices fall

Q1 sees rise in resale and subsale deals as prices get more attractive

(SINGAPORE) The pick-up in private home sales by developers has spilled over to the secondary market. Falling prices are greasing the flow.

Caveats have been lodged for 1,063 private homes in the resale market in the first three months of this year, up 11.7 per cent from the preceding quarter. In the subsale market, 384 caveats were lodged in Q1 2009, reflecting a 44.4 per cent increase from the Q4 2008 figure, according to Savills's analysis of caveats captured by the Urban Redevelopment Authority's Realis system.

Resales and subsales refer to secondary market transactions. Subsales involve projects that have yet to obtain Certificate of Statutory Completion while resales relate to projects that have received CSC. CSC is typically obtained anywhere from three to 12 months after the project receives Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP).

The average prices of resale and subsale transactions at the most popular projects in Q1 2009 were generally lower than in the preceding quarter as well as the same period last year.

City Square Residences, the most popular subsale project in the first three months of this year with 41 units, saw an average price of $804 psf, down 5 per cent from the $845 average subsale price in Q4 2008 and 15 per cent below the $947 psf average subsale price seen in Q1 2008.

Average prices for 11 of the 12 most popular subsale projects in Q1 this year fell between one and 14 per cent from the preceding quarter. The exception was Clementiwoods Condo, where eight subsale deals were done at an average of $664 psf in Q1, some 5 per cent higher than in the previous quarter but down 7 per cent from the same period a year ago.

Compared with Q1 last year, average prices for all 12 top-selling subsale projects in Q1 2009 fell between 4 per cent (Centris) and 36 per cent (The Cosmopolitan).

As for resale transactions, the 11 hottest developments saw quarter-on-quarter price declines ranging from 4 per cent (for The Lakeshore) to 19 per cent (Bayshore Park) in Q1. The Lakeshore was the most popular resale project in the first quarter, with 27 units changing hands, followed by Costa del Sol, with 11 units.

Savills Singapore head of research Priya Sengupta noted that the 11 most popular resale projects in Q1 were all in the mass and mid-tier sectors. 'Amid the economic uncertainties, affordability remains a key consideration for home buyers/investors; 100 of the 113 deals in the 11 most popular resale projects in Q1 were at below $1 million,' she said.

Resale activity for high-end projects was limited. 'This could be attributed to the price disparity between sellers and buyers as the latter expect further downward price adjustment in the near future, as well as the stricter home loan criteria in terms of loan-to-value ratio, especially for investors,' Ms Sengupta said.

Mass and mid-tier projects also saw more subsale transactions than high-end projects. Much of the subsales activity in Q1 surrounded projects that have either received TOP recently or are close to receiving it. For instance, City Square Residences, The Esta, The Sail
@ Marina Bay, The Cosmopolitan and Rivergate have received TOP in 2008/2009, while One Amber and The Centris will get TOP soon, Savills said.

Market watchers said that this could be because many specuvestors who bought on deferred payment schemes (DPS) may be inclined to offload their units as the TOP date approaches, when they have to pay up the bulk of the purchase price to developers.

However, CB Richard Ellis executive director Joseph Tan pointed out that regardless of whether buyers opted for DPS, private housing projects are typically a hive of activity around the time they receive TOP, drawing buyers who want to move in themselves or to rent out immediately.

He also attributed the increase in subsale and resale transactions in Q1 to 'prices being at fairly reasonable levels now', with the stock market rally improving sentiment.

Mr Tan said that whether the buzz in the secondary market continues will depend on the stockmarket. 'So long as the Straits Times Index remains fairly stable, it will give comfort to investors that the property market is close to bottoming out, given the price correction in the past 12-15 months,' he added.

According to DTZ's figures, which are based on resale prices, the average freehold luxury condo and apartment price of $1,880 psf in Q1 this year marks about a one-third drop from the peak of $2,800 psf in late 2007/early 2008.

The most expensive subsale deal (in terms of psf price) in Q1 this year was a 29th floor unit at Orchard Residences that changed hands for $2,579 psf. In absolute dollar quantum, the most expensive subsale deal was an 11th floor apartment at The Tate Residences at Claymore Road, which sold for $5.93 million ($1,850 psf).

As for resale transactions, the top grossers were a 10th floor apartment at Richmond Park at Bideford Road which sold for $2,199 psf and a 25th floor unit at Four Seasons Park at Cuscaden Walk that fetched $6.5 million ($1,701 psf)

Source: Business Times, 24 April 2009

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