Saturday, August 22, 2009

7 signs of the property craze


Far East Organization launched its Centro Residences in the heart of suburban HDB town Ang Mo Kio at prices starting from $1,100 per sq ft (psf). Deals done last month were at $1,117 psf to $1,228 psf.

According to property experts, such prices are more typical of city-fringe or prime projects and set a record for suburban leasehold homes.

In the mid-1990s boom, Far East set a leasehold record with its Bishan 8 project selling for up to $1,100 psf.

At a number of recent launches, above-market prices were also seen. For example, Ascentia Sky in the Alexandra Road area sold for $1,064 psf to as much as $1,459 psf.

Next door, The Metropolitan - launched at $780 psf on average in late 2006 - recently traded at around $900 psf to $1,200 psf.

In Tanah Merah, the 99-year leasehold Optima went for $810 psf on average. Right behind it is Casa Merah, which was first released in April 2007 at an average price of $588 psf.


A look at the number of pairs of shoes outside a showflat tells you immediately how packed the place is. Showflats are usually 'no shoes' zones.

Some of the recent new launches have attracted scores of visitors, who leave countless pairs of shoes outside the showflats.

They include yuppies, couples looking to settle down, extended families with grandparents in tow as well as speculators or investors.


Queues at newly launched condominiums were common during the booms of 1996 and 2007, with people waiting for hours to secure a unit. They disappeared last year after the world went into a recessionary tailspin.

But now they are back. A queue of more than 40 people was reported outside the Optima showflat days before it opened late last month.


At recent launches such as Optima, Meadows@Peirce, The Gale and 8@Woodleigh, buyers have been willing to hand over blank cheques in a bid to secure a favourable unit.

The cheques - for the booking fee of typically 5 per cent - are given to agents even before the final pricing is released. One property agent said that offering blank cheques was a way for buyers to show their sincerity - never mind that the price list is not out and the showflat has yet to open.


Close to midnight on a Friday, buyers and onlookers at the 297-unit Optima showflat in Tanah Merah cheered each successful buyer when the balloting results were announced. For every person who managed to commit to a big-ticket unit at a premium to the market, four others went away disappointed.

Developer TID chose to sell via balloting when buyers again started queueing a day before the public preview.

A spokesman for TID said that balloting was more transparent and the crowd could be dispersed faster. It also stopped people from trying tactics like selling their places in the queue, he said.

At the 152-unit One Devonshire in Devonshire Road, demand from buyers was so strong that a last-minute ballot was held.


A look at the classified advertisements on property pages will tell you that the flippers are back.

They have been placing advertisements for just- launched or sold-out projects, hoping to make a quick buck. Ads for Optima units surfaced only days after the housing project was sold out.

Sellers and agents are still placing ads for projects popular with investors, including The Metropolitan.

At new launches, property agents are appealing to potential buyers' kiasu mentality, or the fear of missing the boat, and urging them to act now before prices rise.


Never mind that pay cuts are still in place at some firms or that retrenchment continues at others. You never miss a good opportunity to buy when you are presented with one.

Certainly, Singaporeans have been out in droves whenever projects deemed affordable come on the market.

Back in February when sentiment was poor, the 293-unit Alexis in Alexandra Road was launched at $850 psf to $1,100 psf and, within days, it was sold out.

Other new launches that quickly sold out in recent months include 8@Woodleigh in Potong Pasir, Illuminaire on Devonshire Road and Optima in Tanah Merah.

Source: Straits Times, 22 Aug 2009

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