Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Property market shows signs of slowing Two recent launches

Straits Times: Tue, Jun 05
THE property market is taking a breather as home buyers grapple with looming economic uncertainties and possible cooling measures.

New private home sales figures for last month will be out only next week but they are likely to be significantly down from April's numbers, consultants and agents have noted.

Sales for April had been the strongest in nearly three years, with 2,487 units sold, 4 per cent up from March. Including executive condominiums, 2,660 units were snapped up. April sales had been propped up by shoebox apartments, consultants had said.

It is a different picture in the last few weeks, agents said, with activity slowing.

Oxley Holdings' Vibes@Upper Serangoon sold a total of seven units over the last two weekends. The units available include one-bedders, one-plus-study and two-bedroom penthouses.

To date, it has sold 46 out of 60 units at the project. Units there are priced between $1,100 per sq ft (psf) and $1,300 psf on average.

River Isles in Punggol, for instance, was launched over the weekend, notching up respectable sales numbers, but units have moved less quickly than for some earlier projects, said consultants.

Qingjian Realty, the condo's developer, launched 300 units and sold 150 over the weekend. It has 610 units in total.

The homes are priced at an average of $830 psf to $850 psf.

Between May 28 and June 3, Far East Organization sold 22 units in total across all its properties, including SeaHill along West Coast Link and Hillsta in Choa Chu Kang.

Executive condominium Watercolours surprised consultants with a sluggish take-up rate.

The project at Pasir Ris had gathered much hype after it was two times oversubscribed when it opened for e-application.

But according to industry sources, only up to half of the 416 units there have been sold.

Property consultant Alan Cheong attributed the slowdown to the lack of new launches recently.

The month-long school holidays are also in full swing, leading to the drop in sales, he said.

Mr Cheong, research head at Savills Singapore, said: 'May would not be a bumper month because some of the larger projects, such as Riversails near Punggol, did not hit the market.

'If you don't have supply coming in, demand is not going to be there,' he added, noting that sales this month are likely to follow a similar sluggish pattern because of the school holidays.

R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said that risk-averse buyers could be cautious in the light of possible cooling measures, especially those who are eyeing shoebox units.

Of late, there has been much talk about further cooling measures aimed at these unit types, defined as measuring some 500 sq ft or smaller. National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan has said that he is monitoring this sector closely.

'Those who already made up their minds would have already bought units in the previous months... this leaves only the cautious ones,' Mr Ong said.

Indeed, property agents The Straits Times interviewed said they are getting fewer inquiries or are seeing choosier clients.

For instance, Mr James Lee, property agent and director of James Lee Realty, said that he has been getting fewer calls in the last month.

'With more supply of units coming up, buyers have more choices,' he said.

He expects the slowdown to continue until the middle of the month.

But given the variety of projects in the market now, DTZ property agent Benny Lim said that cautious home buyers now take their time to view properties.

He said that while some people have put their purchases on hold, others are still snapping up homes in suburban areas.

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Martin Koh/ Sherry Tang
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