No takers for many high-end condos but supply not slowing any time soon
The Straits Times - February 23, 2013
THE anaemic high-end property market is still languishing as foreign buyers flee the market in the wake of the string of cooling measures and the residual sting of the global financial crisis.
New analysis by R'ST Research has identified almost 500 completed but unsold homes in upmarket districts 9, 10 and 11.
And there are thousands more in the pipeline.
R'ST Research director Ong Kah Seng said 9,295 non-landed high-end homes were under construction by the end of last year.
Of these, about 44 per cent - or 4,077 units - remain unsold. A majority have sale licences but are not even launched as developers bide their time in a down market.
The unsold completed homes include the 241-unit Hilltops in Cairnhill Circle, finished in mid-2011 with 195 units unsold, and Treasure on Balmoral with all of its 48 units unsold. It received its temporary occupation permit in the fourth quarter of last year.
Others include Hamilton Scotts, The Trizon, The Ritz-Carlton Residences Singapore and 111 Emerald Hill.
The whopping supply of high-end homes in the pipeline is likely to keep prices depressed.
Already, a Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) report found that prices of luxury homes fell 5.6 per cent last year compared to 2011. Singapore was one of only two cities in Asia - the other being Shanghai - to have registered a price fall.
Experts say that while the introduction of the additional buyer's stamp duty has hurt the market, diverting foreign buyers to other global cities like London and Sydney, the weakened buying interest first began during the global financial crisis in 2009.
Wealthy buyers have been more cautious since then, especially those from countries whose domestic economies are also faltering.
"The significant price corrections of high-end homes probably reflected that prices of such homes, which escalated to all-time highs in 2007 and early 2008, were unsustainable and were not supported by firm economic and property fundamentals," noted Mr Ong.
Mr Joseph Tan, CBRE's executive director of residential, said that prices may come under further pressure due to lower sales volumes expected this year.
"With the likelihood of the luxury sales market being dominated by the sale of older properties in the resale market, we expect a marginal correction of 5 to 10 per cent this year," he noted.
Mr Chris Fossick, managing director for JLL in Singapore and South-east Asia, agreed that prices in the luxury non-landed market here have eased partly due to cooling measures which have reduced the number of buyers.
"While the cooling measures will remain in place, it is unlikely that prices will rise.
"The medium- to longer-term outlook for the luxury condominium market, however, looks good as Singapore's economy and population are expected to grow."
On the rental front, leasing activity slowed down somewhat but rents held steady and remained at $5.10 per sq ft, unchanged from a year ago, CBRE's data showed.
However, Savills' analysis of leasing data from the fourth quarter of last year found that larger apartments and those in the prime districts are not getting tenancy traction.
They have seen rents fall by up to 15 to 22 per cent since the middle of 2010, its Singapore research head Alan Cheong noted.
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