Sunday, December 11, 2011

Showrooms still get visitors

Straits Times: Sun, Dec 11
It was not a ghost town at most property showflats islandwide yesterday, with visitors turning up even after additional cooling measures were announced earlier in the week.


But agents admitted the turnouts were smaller and more subdued, compared to past weekends.


The Sunday Times yesterday visited the showflats of five projects - one high-end, four mass-market - and found varying impacts from the new measures.


Worst-hit was The Scotts Tower project at Cairnhill. Very few visitors were spotted in the showflat and those who came were outnumbered by agents.


Developed by Far East Organization, prices for this high-end condo start at $1.94 million for a 624 sq ft one-bedroom apartment.


The 231-unit development is in the prime Orchard Road district, which typically draws a bigger group of foreign buyers.


Foreigners, who accounted for 19 per cent of all private residential property purchases in the second half of this year, now have to pay an extra buyer's stamp duty of 10 per cent.


Permanent residents who buy a second and subsequent residential properties have to pay an additional 3 per cent stamp duty.


Mass- and mid-market projects fared better yesterday, going by the showflat traffic at The Palette and Seastrand at Pasir Ris, Archipelago at Bedok Reservoir and Nottinghill Suites at Toh Tuck Road.


Their prices range from $900 psf to $1,550 psf.


Steady streams of couples and families turned up at the showflats but many left without buying.


When asked, several said that while they were unaffected by the new measures and looking to buy for their own use, they were keeping their options open.


They added that price was a crucial tipping point and they were hoping that the new measures would bring down costs.


Analysts have predicted that the Government's latest move to cool the property market could cause prices to fall by as much as 30 per cent over the next year.


Mr Michael Tan, 40, who works in IT and was at The Palette showflat, said: 'I'm looking to buy for myself but I'm also looking for more bargains.'


Mr Tan Kok Keong, head of research at OrangeTee, said the situation yesterday was not unlike that in January, after the last round of cooling measures.


'Visitorship at showflats then didn't fall. As for today's situation, the high-end market has also been slowing down for some time so this outcome is not totally unexpected.


'But for the other projects, it could be a case of Singaporeans doing research so they will be better prepared to make a purchase when the prices drop.'


But one buyer, who gave her name as Ms Chee, took the plunge - on a $567,000 one-bedroom unit at The Palette, despite family objections.


The 37-year-old permanent resident, who is currently renting a place, said it was her first property.


'My family has been nagging me since the middle of this year to hold off because they believe prices will fall further.


'But at the end of the day, it's my money and I think there's no need to wait. More important is whether you feel comfortable about the price and whether it's within your budget,' said the operations manager at a logistics firm.


Agents working in the resale market have also reported a quieter weekend.


Ms Irene Ng, a property agent, said: 'Many of my clients who have been actively looking for homes have not made any viewing appointments this week. But they have told me to continue monitoring the prices.'


cherlim@sph.com.sg


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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