Wednesday, May 16, 2012

New private home sales in April shoot up to 3-year high

Straits Times: Wed, May 16
NEW private home sales in April were the strongest in nearly three years, with 2,487 units sold.

This was due partly to the ongoing popularity of smaller, more affordable so-called shoebox apartments.

April's home sales were up 4 per cent from March, and were the highest monthly level since 2,772 units were sold in July 2009. The figures do not include executive condominiums (ECs), a public-private housing hybrid. Including ECs, buyers snapped up 2,660 homes last month.

Experts called it 'another exceptional month' after the first three months of the year recorded a robust average of more than 2,200 homes sold each month.

Average monthly new home sales from 2008 to 2011 were about 1,300 units.

Another factor driving sales is rock-bottom mortgage rates, the experts said.

They say tiny shoebox units of under 50 sq m - about 540 sq ft - typically costing under $1 million have propped up the market. Another round of cooling measures is now more likely, they added.

Units smaller than 50 sq m formed about 20 per cent of the 2,487 non-EC units sold last month, a spokesman for the Urban Redevelopment Authority said.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has twice sounded warnings on the segment as an untested market. In Parliament earlier this week, he again cautioned that the Government is monitoring the trend of shoebox units and will consider more regulations if necessary...
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