Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Far East sells 225 The Hillier homes

Straits Times: Tue, Jan 03
FAR East Organization's project The Hillier in Upper Bukit Timah has chalked up healthy sales, despite the recent property cooling measures.


Close to half the 528 units at the Soho-style project have been sold so far, the property developer said yesterday.


One key factor seems to be the developer's offer to give a stamp duty reimbursement of 3 per cent. Another sweetener is furniture vouchers, with the amount varying based on the apartment size.


All buyers had to pay stamp duty of up to 3 per cent on their purchases, but the property measures unveiled last month mean that Singaporeans who buy their third property will have to pay an additional buyers' stamp duty of 3 per cent; for permanent residents (PRs) buying their second property, it is 3 per cent; and for foreigners buying their first property, the stamp duty is 10 per cent.


At The Hillier, Far East is offering a 'stamp duty reimbursement' of 3 per cent to all buyers, a move industry players say is equivalent to a 3 per cent discount.


Far East yesterday said 93 per cent of the buyers were Singaporeans and PRs, adding that more than half of the buyers are existing residents in the Hillview neighbourhood.


The developer has been collecting cheques since the project's preview phase started on Dec 16 and buyers have snapped up 225 units averaging $1,175 per sq ft (psf). So far, 333 units have been launched.


Prices start at $668,000 for a 549 sq ft one-bedroom studio unit, which works out to $1,217 psf.


The concept is similar to Far East's other mixed-use projects such as The Tennery at Junction 10 and The Greenwich in Seletar, where residential components are integrated with retail malls.


A buyer in his 60s, who wanted to be known as Dr Ng, bought two 624 sq ft units at the project for his children. He said the building's design and the developer's reputation were among his key considerations.


'Price is also equally important for me and I feel I got a good deal. I don't foresee developers lowering prices too much and if I wait, I run the risk that the unit I have my eye on will be snapped up.'


Some market observers have labelled the offer to absorb stamp duty and the furniture vouchers as marketing tactics and have called on developers to lower their prices instead.


But buyers like Dr Ng said he felt it made no difference to him. 'Giving vouchers is like lowering the price. Ultimately, my concern as a buyer is the net amount I will have to pay and whether I feel it's value for money,' he said.


Some market observers add that developers may wait a while before cutting prices.


Developers will be more price sensitive in the current market, said PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail, where many buyers are aware prices could fall further.


'Hence lowering prices on its own may not always work as some buyers will feel it's not low enough... Pairing incentives like stamp duty absorption with lower prices may have greater appeal.'


The Hillier, a 99-year leasehold project, contains a mixture of one- and two-bedroom apartments in two blocks: a 22-storey New York-themed tower and a 28-storey tower modelled after the modern architecture seen in London.


Both towers sit above hillV2, a retail and lifestyle shopping mall slated for completion by next year. The Hillier will be ready in 2016.


cherlim@sph.com.sg

Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd

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