Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Signs of a mild property fever as private home sales gather pace

Developers have sold over 900 units this month as bullish sentiment returns

Developers have sold more than 900 private homes so far this month – based on BT’s poll of developers and property agents – and with another week to go, the tally is easily expected to cross 1,000 units by month’s end.

Besides Allgreen Properties’ Holland Residences, which will be previewed this week, Wing Tai is said to be at an advanced stage of preparation for an imminent preview for L’Viv at Newton Road. The average price is touted at about $1,900-$2,000 per square foot (psf) – significantly higher than the $1,700 psf average price at which Ho Bee is selling its Trilight condo nearby.

Wing Tai is eyeing a higher per square foot price by offering smallish units (thus keeping the absolute lump sum price per unit ‘affordable’ to potential buyers). The developer is said to be packaging its project with Deferred Payment Scheme as it had clinched approval for it before the scheme was scrapped in 2007.

L’Viv comprises a total of 147 units – 72 units have one bedroom and a study and these come in two sizes, both 600-sq ft plus; another 72 units have two bedrooms and a study (all about 1,000 sq ft); and there are three penthouses (all three bedders).

Trilight does not have any one-bedders. It has two, three and four bedders as well as penthouses. Two bedders range from 1,100 to 1,200 sq ft.

Fortune Development is also slated to begin previewing this week RV Edge in the River Valley/Shanghai Road vicinity. The 108-unit freehold project, being marketed by Huttons, comprises mostly smallish apartments ranging from one-bedders to two-bedroom with study units. The smallest unit is about 400 sq ft. Prices are expected to start from $600,000-plus per apartment.

City Developments Ltd (CDL) said yesterday evening that it has sold about 85 per cent or about 150 of the the total 177 units at its Cube 8 condo at Thomson Road, which it began previewing last week.

Singaporeans bought 75 per cent of the units sold. The other 25 per cent were picked up by permanent residents (PRs) and other foreigners – mainly from Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Korea, India, China and Europe.

The District 11 freehold project was initially priced at $1,250 psf on average but prices were upped 2-3 per cent for subsequent releases.

CDL group general manager Chia Ngiang Hong said in a statement that the buyers were an ‘equal mix of owner-occupiers and investors’ and that this pointed to the development’s appeal to both home owners and investors.

Some market watchers suggest, however, that the project has probably also drawn a fair number of specuvestors. Slightly over half of the total 177 units comprised one and two bedders and these were the first to go, mirroring the pattern for other projects that were launched in Districts 9, 10 and 11 last year.

In addition to the buying buzz created this month from the release of new projects, some developers have been pleasantly surprised with a steady stream of activity even for existing projects that have been on the market for at least a few months. For instance, Ho Bee Investment has sold about 60 units at its Parvis condo at Holland Hill and 10 units at Trilight since the start of the year.

CDL is also understood to have sold more than 50 units at its Livia condo in Pasir Ris this month and the 724-unit project is now left with about 10 units.

‘Sentiment has picked in the mid and high-end markets because of the improvement in the economy; the imminent opening of the two integrated resorts (IRs) may also have given a psychological boost to foreign buying interest, which seems to be returning,’ says Ho Bee executive director Ong Chong Hua.

Agreeing, a fellow developer said: ‘We’re seeing a bigger variety of buyers from the region this round – including markets like Myanmar and Laos.’

UOL Group has sold this month 25 units at Double Bay Residences in Simei and 18 units at Meadows @ Peirce along Upper Thomson Road. The group plans to launch two projects in the first half of this year – a 99-year-leasehold condo with about 600-plus units at Dakota Crescent and a project with some 170 units on the Rainbow Gardens site in the Toh Tuck area. The latter will be a joint development with LaSalle Asia Opportunity II fund.

Developers’ home sales slipped below the 1,000-unit per month mark in Q4 last year as they wound down their launch activities towards year-end. Some potential buyers had also grown cautious following the government’s measures in September to cool the property fever.

However, fear of missing the boat appears to be re-igniting with strong signs of another round of price hikes this year.

‘For the economy, the worst is over and much of the physical infrastructure investment like the IRs is close to completion,’ says Knight Frank chairman Tan Tiong Cheng.

Asked if the authorities are likely to come up with fresh measures to cool the market if another wave of buying frenzy builds up, Mr Tan said: ‘Frankly, it’s very hard to deter people from buying, if you look at how strong the HDB resale market is. There’s very strong bottom-up support.’

Source: Business Times, 26 Jan 2010

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