Thursday, February 25, 2010

Buzz in private housing sales continues

Weekend sales of about 45 units at Waterscape at Cavenagh and over a dozen units at L’VIV

THE buzz in private home sales appears to be continuing even after last Friday evening’s government announcement of new measures to cool the property market.

About 45 units at Hiap Hoe’s Waterscape at Cavenagh are said to have been sold since Saturday – the bulk of them one bedders although some two and three-bedroom units were also sold. Hiap Hoe is understood to have offloaded 61 units so far in the 200-unit project, which will be officially launched soon. The majority of buyers are understood to be Singaporeans; foreigners made up about 15-20 per cent of purchasers.

The freehold project is five to seven storeys high. The average price achieved is understood to be about $1,873 per square foot, with prices ranging from $1,738 to $2,010 psf. The lowest-priced unit sold was a one-bedder of 581 square feet on the second level that fetched $1.03 million or $1,778 psf.

Wing Tai is also understood to have sold slightly more than a dozen units over the weekend at L’VIV at Newton Road. This takes total sales to about 35 units.

The 147-unit freehold project comprises almost entirely of one and two-bedroom units (both with study). The average price is said to be about $2,000 psf and buyers have to purchase on the old deferred payment scheme (DPS). They pay 20 per cent of the purchase price initially with the rest deferred till the 32-storey project receives Temporary Occupation Permit, which is expected around 2013.

Developers that had obtained approval from the authorities to sell projects on DPS prior to the scheme being scrapped in October 2007 are still allowed to offer DPS.

Last Friday, just hours before the government’s announcement, a joint venture between Sing Holdings and Forum Partners is said to have sold more than 40 units at The Laurels on Cairnhill Road, which is being developed on the former Hillcourt Apartments site.

The units were sold at a one-day private preview held for former owners of Hillcourt Apartments as well as the developers’ staff and business associates. Those who turned up for the preview were quoted a price range of $2,500 to $2,900 psf, although a one-bedder on the 18th floor is said to have sold at just a shade below $3,000 psf. In absolute quantum, the highest-priced unit transacted was a penthouse with four bedrooms and a garden that fetched almost $9.9 million or about $2,040 psf, BT understands.

The buyers were mostly Singaporeans, although some Indonesians who had formerly lived in Hillcourt are also said to have bought. The Laurels will be next previewed in a fortnight, on March 13.

The project is near Capitaland’s Urban Suites, where 88 units were sold last month at prices ranging from $2,213 psf to $2,921 psf.

The landed housing market also continues to teem with activity. RealStar Premier Property Consultant managing director William Wong says that his firm has brokered or co-brokered four bungalow deals in the past few days. These include a two-and-a-half-storey property at Berrima Road off Dunearn Road that sold for $8.75 million or $1,944 psf, based on its land area of about 4,500 sq ft. The bungalow was completed a few months ago.

At Kheam Hock Road nearby, a brand new bungalow sold for $8.5 million or $1,577 psf. The other two transactions were at Namly Grove ($10.8 million or $1,125 psf) and Coronation Road West ($10.4 million or $906 psf).

Mr Wong does not expect the measures announced by the government last Friday – which include a seller’s stamp duty for those who sell a residential property within a year of purchase – to affect landed property buyers. Those who buy bungalows often renovate them and this could take six months to a year; so they’re unlikely to have been planning to resell within a year, according to Mr Wong. Besides, bungalow buyers usually have more holding power, he added.

Mr Wong forecasts a 5-10 per cent rise in landed home prices this year, citing limited supply; the stock of landed homes on the island is much smaller than condos/apartments.

Singaporeans make up about 60 per cent of Mr Wong’s bungalow buyers these days; the other 40 per cent are permanent residents, who are allowed to buy bungalows with land areas up to around 15,000 sq ft.

Meanwhile, at West Coast Crescent, agents marketing The Vision are said to be collecting cheques ahead of the 99-year leasehold project’s preview planned in the second week of March.

Those issuing cheques are said to have been told prices could be in the $1,000 to $1,200 psf range, although there will be an early bird discount.

The Vision, being developed by a Singapore unit of Cheung Kong Holdings, comprises 281 apartments housed in two 33-storey towers and 14 strata houses. The development will not have any one-bedroom apartments, which typically are the first to be snapped up these days because of the lower entry barrier in terms of a smaller lumpsum investment.

Instead, The Vision’s apartments will be two, three, and four bedders as well as penthouses. The majority of units are three-bedroom apartments – mostly ranging from 1,259 to 1,313 sq ft, with three ground floor units (inclusive of private enclosed space) of 1,776 sq ft to over 2,000 sq ft.

Summing up the continued enthusiasm of home buyers, a seasoned property consultant said: ‘Buyers are quite confident prices won’t fall; in fact, they’re likely to rise because of the improving economy and the completion of the IRs.’

Agreeing, an agent says: ‘There’s still a lot of money; if you can’t put it in property, where else can you put it?’

Source: Business Times, 25 Feb 2010

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