Thursday, August 4, 2011

Few new property launches this month

New property launches are expected to slow down to a trickle as developers hold off launching projects over the next few weeks.
The traditionally inauspicious Hungry Ghost Festival - which started on Sunday - could be one reason, but analysts say uncertainty over global economic issues could be a more worrying concern.

Several developers contacted by The Straits Times confirmed that they are not planning to launch any new projects this month, but many denied the Hungry Ghost Festival has anything to do with it.

Both Oxley Holdings and Roxy Pacific explained that they are in the midst of preparing projects that are due to be launched later this year.

Roxy Pacific's executive chairman, Mr Teo Hong Lim, quipped that launching properties during the ghost month could turn out to be an advantage because developers would have less competition.

But Mr Lim Yew Soon, managing director of EL Development, said his firm avoids launching properties during the Hungry Ghost Festival as some home buyers do not want to buy during this time.

'You have only one shot at creating a good impression in the market, so we want to do so at a time that is free from any constraints,' he said.

But Far East Organization is one developer that is bucking the trend. It launched 306 units at its euHabitat development last Tuesday. Since then, 181 units have been sold. The project, located at Jalan Eunos, offers a total of 748 units with prices in the range of around $869 per square foot for a 3,380 sq ft townhouse.

Commenting on this, Mr Ong Kah Seng, Cushman and Wakefield's senior manager of Asia-Pacific research, said despite the market's cautious sentiment, unique projects like euHabitat might see buyer interest because they appeal to a broad range of buyers by offering various housing types in the same development.

Knight Frank's head of research, Mr Png Poh Soon, predicts that the pace of new launches should resume towards the end of the festival on Aug 28.

He observed: 'When you have a brand new project, you don't want to start off with empty showrooms and create negative publicity for your property.

'But if a project has done well during the preview sales that had started weeks earlier, developers are more confident that it will continue to do well despite the Hungry Ghost Festival,' he said.

Credo's head of research and consultancy, Mr Ong Teck Hui, pointed out that the current ghost month also happens to coincide with a flurry of negative news from the United States, Europe and China, as well as Singapore's low gross domestic product growth in the second quarter. This could explain the slower pace in property launches and sales.

Cushman's Mr Ong added that the growing concern over the debt woes in Europe and the US may have some impact on home sales and sentiments locally.

While market activity tends to slow down during the ghost month, Credo's Mr Ong was optimistic that a robust economic recovery could see many buyers still going ahead with purchases.

Mr Png agreed and added that property purchases here are sentiment-driven: 'If the market is slowing down, people might not buy property because they might think there's something wrong and that's why other people are not buying.'

Market experts also attribute the expected slowdown to the National Day public holiday and the upcoming presidential election, but they add that these events will have limited impact.

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