Wednesday, September 19, 2012

New private home sales fall sharply in August

Fewer suburban launches during Hungry Ghost Festival; sales dip 27%

The Straits Times
September 18, 2012

THE Hungry Ghost Festival may have cast a shadow over the market for new private home sales last month with turnover falling sharply.

Buyers snapped up just 1,421 units, 27 per cent less than the 1,946 units sold in July. Only June, with 1,371 sales, performed worse so far this year.

Transactions were hit as there were fewer new launches in suburban estates, where demand from upgraders is still healthy.

That meant sales were mostly in previously launched projects such as Parc Olympia and Bartley Residences.

New home sales also fell 19 per cent in August 2010, although they eased only 4 per cent last year, so it is not clear just how much the Hungry Ghost period is to blame.

The rankings change if executive condominiums are included.

August's total sales would then be 1,539, fewer than the June total of 1,725 units.

Experts say sales are likely to jump this month as larger new launches, such as the 752-unit eCo near Tanah Merah MRT station and the 920-unit RiverSails in Upper Serangoon Road, come on the market.

Mass-market projects like these have typically seen keen interest from Housing Board upgraders.

PropNex chief executive Mohamed Ismail said that developers seem to have been spooked by the Hungry Ghost Festival, pushing out the fewest number of homes this year.

Moreover, of the 1,118 units launched for sale last month, only 341 were from fresh launches.

For instance, the mixed-development project One Dusun Residences, off Balestier Road, was the only sizeable new project launched last month.

It moved 153 out of its 154 units at median prices of $1,532 per sq ft (psf).

"This is in stark contrast with the earlier months in the year, when fresh launches accounted for the bulk of new supply for almost every month," noted Mr Ong Teck Hui, Jones Lang LaSalle's national director of Singapore research.

However, while mass-market sales waned due to the lack of new launches - and possibly due to soaring prices - there were continued signs of returning interest in the mid- and high-end sectors.

Colliers International director of research and advisory Chia Siew Chuin noted that developers sold 368 city-fringe homes last month, more than double July's number, while city-centre sales improved to 218.

"The fact that sales in the city centre and city fringe were healthy also indicates to some extent that the superstition surrounding home purchases during the Hungry Ghost month is slowly taking a back seat when new, attractive project launches are in the offering," she said.

Experts say that home sales are expected to stay healthy, given the low interest rates and the third round of quantitative easing in the United States, which will likely result in funds flowing here.

Ms Chua Chor Hoon, DTZ head of Asia Pacific Research, expects sales for the year to come in at between 20,000 and 23,000 units, eclipsing the record 16,292 units in 2010.

August's figures were still strong given that average monthly sales were 1,364 units last year and 1,385 in 2010, she added.

CBRE Research executive director Li Hiaw Ho added that private home prices stayed stable last month and are expected to do so for the rest of the year on the back of a slew of upcoming launches.

Martin Koh | 86666 944 | R020968Z
Sherry Tang | 9844 4400 | R020241C
Senior Sales Director
DTZ Debenham Tie Leung (SEA) Pte Ltd (L3006301G)

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