Saturday, August 29, 2009

Home buyers ignore ghost month

Toa Payoh condo draws keen interest; developer releases extra units

WHAT ghost month?

The traditional lull in home-buying activity during the Hungry Ghost month has been swept aside amid the current property market frenzy.

Buyers were out in force yesterday at the preview of Trevista, a new 590-unit condominium in Toa Payoh, a traditional heartland area.

A queue had formed at least 20 minutes before the showflat doors opened at 2pm. By 5pm, all 210 units released for sale had been snapped up by buyers.

Developer NTUC Choice Homes had said it would release just those units for sale this weekend at an average price of $898 per sq ft (psf). However, the response was so strong that it released another 190 units at higher prices just after 8pm, said a spokesman. She could not say how much higher the prices were.

Of the 210 units, the two-bedders averaged $830,000 while the three- and four-bedroom units averaged $1.065 million and $1.43 million respectively under the normal payment scheme.

Owner-occupiers were eyeing the bigger units while investors were mostly keen on the small units.

The 99-year leasehold Trevista, within walking distance of both Braddell and Toa Payoh MRT stations, has 44 one-bedroom units, from 463 sq ft to 721 sq ft. Other units are 861 sq ft to 2,002 sq ft.

Teacher Jean Tan, 29, a potential investor, was keen to get a studio apartment as a 'first property investment' for herself and her husband.

One buyer, who asked to be known only as Mr Goh, 44, bought a high-floor three-bedder priced at $1.05 million or $949 psf. He had recently sold another condo unit 'too low', and is buying the Trevista unit to recoup this loss, he said.

'It's close to the city, and near Oleandar Towers where I presently live. I'm treating it as an investment, possibly for my kids to live in when they grow up,' said Mr Goh, who is self-employed.

Another keen buyer, Mr James Tan, 55, who lives in Palm Grove in Hougang, wants to live there. 'It's a convenient location with good schools nearby for my daughter to attend in the future,' he said.

The market was expecting big crowds at Trevista as it is the first condo to be launched in the mature Toa Payoh estate since 1996. ERA and CBRE are marketing agents.

There was talk that plenty of blank cheques were collected prior to the preview. Some agents expect a sell-out.

Yesterday, the queue continued even after the doors were opened, as the number of visitors inside the showflat was controlled to avoid overcrowding.

It appears that the Hungry Ghost month from Aug 20 to Sept 18 is not an issue for these buyers even though many Taoist households in Toa Payoh burn incense during the month in the belief that this will appease the spirits. Many buyers would have been from the local area.

The property market traditionally goes into a lull during this period as some Chinese consider it inauspicious to buy a house at this time.

But in recent years, practicality has often overridden superstition, agents say.

'Some developers may want to wait until the end of the ghost month to launch but those with launch-ready projects will want to capitalise on the buying momentum,' said Savills Residential director Phylicia Ang.

'There are a lot of young buyers who are not very superstitious.'

Also, when the market is slow, buyers may stick to their superstitious beliefs but when the market is hot and a good investment opportunity presents itself, they will not hesitate to jump in, lest they miss the boat, explained Ms Ang.

Another project that previewed yesterday also saw fairly strong demand. The Lenox, a freehold five-storey project along Changi Road, sold 52 units.

It has 76 units - the studio units are just 334 sq ft in size while the three bedders go up to 872 sq ft, and three shops.

Sources said it was priced around $1,000 to $1,100 psf, but the total quantum is low as the units are small.

Another freehold project, Trizon @ Mount Sinai by Singapore Land, will start its public preview today at $1,300 psf to $1,500 psf.

Some units have been sold as a staff preview and a sale exhibition in Jakarta was held recently, sources said.

Source: Straits Times, 29 Aug 2009

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