Sunday, February 28, 2010

Fresh curbs not stopping property buyers

They came, they saw, they bought.

As of yesterday, more than 300 of about 350 units in The Estuary condominium that were released for sale have been snapped up.

The MCL Land project in Yishun is the first major property launch since measures were announced by the Government last week to curb speculation.

These were: stamp duty to be paid if the buyer sells the property within a year, and lending institutions allowed to lend only up to 80 per cent of the property’s value, not 90 per cent.

Yesterday, more than 80 pairs of shoes were seen outside The Estuary’s showflat when The Sunday Times visited at 1.30pm.

The number increased steadily to more than 100 pairs by 2pm as people came to check out the 99-year leasehold condo.

Most were families with young children or young couples, lured by the condo’s proximity to Lower Seletar Reservoir and attractive prices of about $750 per sq ft.

Inside, all the 15 tables set aside for prospective buyers were filled most of the afternoon.

Sales of the 350 released units began last week. The project has 608 units – comprising one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom types.

‘It’s been encouraging so far despite the measures,’ said an MCL Land staff member, noting that demand was evenly distributed across the various apartment types.

‘At first, there was more interest in the one-bedroom units but when the measures were announced, this died off a little.’

One- and two-bedroom units have usually been popular among speculators at launches over the past year. They make up nearly 40 per cent of units in The Estuary, which is near Khatib MRT station.

Small apartments have been targets for speculators because the lump-sum outlay is relatively more affordable.

The Government’s measures to curb excesses have come at the right time, said Madam Angie Ng who bought a three-bedroom unit at The Estuary for about $930,000 yesterday.

‘I’m relieved actually. We were waiting for this launch and then the measures came. That’ll help curb speculators and prices won’t be jacked up,’ she said.

Madam Ng, 36, who works in the banking industry, is married with two children and lives in a five-room flat in Yishun.

Property agents said The Estuary’s relatively distant location from the city also meant it might not be as attractive for speculators.

The prices were the key lure for the buyers, about 70 per cent of whom live nearby in Woodlands and Marsiling.

‘For upcoming projects in Singapore, the prices are at least $900 psf,’ said ERA agent Shayne Lim, 34, noting that prices have even reached $1,200 psf in Ang Mo Kio.

‘And there hasn’t been a new condo in the Yishun area for over 10 years,’ she said of the good buying response.

People in the real estate sector will also be monitoring sales at another condo – Vision@West Coast – which is set to be launched soon.

Located on West Coast Highway, the 99-year leasehold development has 281 apartments and 14 strata houses. Sizes start at about 800 sq ft for a two-bedroom unit and rise to 5,000 sq ft for the strata houses.

‘Demand should be strong as the location also boasts sea views,’ predicted property agent Jimmy Tan.

The asking price for the project, he added, could be around $1,100 psf.

Source: Sunday Times, 28 Feb 2010

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