Thursday, July 29, 2010

Mass market condos still hot property

200 units at The Scala in Serangoon snapped up at launch yesterday

HUNDREDS of eager buyers yesterday braved the early morning rain, making a beeline for the public launch of Hong Leong's The Scala, as keen interest in mass market condominiums shows no sign of abating.

Demand for the 300 or so remaining units of the 99-year leasehold project near Lorong Chuan MRT station was so strong that balloting was needed to sort out who got to enter the showflat first.

By late morning, more than 800 property agents and potential buyers who had submitted blank cheques had packed the balloting tent at the condo site in Serangoon Avenue 3. This is the biggest turnout at a mass market public launch since Trevista in Toa Payoh and Hundred Trees in the West Coast area were launched late last year.

A private preview was held on Tuesday for Hong Leong staff and buyers who had registered their interest with the developer. About 150 units were sold then.

Hong Leong said that as of yesterday, more than 75 per cent of the project's 468 units had been sold. That means more than 350 were sold, of which about 200 went yesterday.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic real estate lecturer Nicholas Mak said the condo had set a benchmark price for new projects near MRT stations in the north-east.

'There is a demand for mass market homes among investors and they generally feel more comfortable buying projects near MRT stations,' he said.

Mr Colin Tan, research and consultancy director of Chesterton Suntec International, said: 'The market is still hungry, and the proximity of the project to the Circle Line has given (buyers) a reason to buy.' He said worries over the euro debt crisis had receded so buying sentiment had turned positive again.

Property experts say the strong demand for mass market homes is expected to continue, with prices set to rise about 7 per cent in the second half of this year.

The Government is rolling out a record number of residential sites in the second half of this year, and has assured buyers that there will be no shortage of homes.

Units at The Scala, in five residential towers, are between 474 and 2,142 sq ft each and range from one- to four-bedroom apartments. They were sold at an average of $1,150 per sq ft (psf).

In terms of total price, the smallest units were priced from $600,000 while the four-bedders were from $1.5 million.

Hong Leong said the buyers, mainly locals, comprised a good mix of HDB flat upgraders and investors.

Most buyers The Straits Times spoke to listed as key selling points the project's close proximity to newly opened Lorong Chuan MRT station and the range of amenities such as the NEX mega mall due to be completed next year.

Some buyers also cited nearby schools such as the Australian International School and the Stamford American International School. They said this could mean high rental yields.

Sales executive Tammy Lim, 30, bought a two-bedroom unit. She said the project is near her parents' home.

In addition, the project is close to schools that her three-year-old daughter could attend later, she said. 'Prices keep increasing. We decided to buy now rather than keep waiting.'

Nearby Chiltern Park condo, completed in 1995, saw an average selling price of $746 psf for five units sold last month, according to caveats lodged with the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

The Scala is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2014.

Source: Straits Times, 29 Jul 2010

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