No rush for ECs despite rule changes

JBE Holdings sold about 20 per cent of its 525-unit Signature (above) at Yishun, while The Criterion next door received about 200 e-applications for its 505 apartments.
JBE Holdings sold about 20 per cent of its 525-unit Signature (above) at Yishun, while The Criterion next door received about 200 e-applications for its 505 apartments. PHOTO: JBE HOLDINGS

Agents were hardly rushed off their feet when the first two executive condominiums (ECs) to be launched after changes to the income ceiling rules hit the market on the weekend.

JBE Holdings sold about 20 per cent of its 525-unit Signature at Yishun, while The Criterion next door received about 200 e-applications for its 505 apartments.

E-applications for The Criterion, being built by City Developments (CDL), opened last Thursday and close on Sunday.

Mr Ong Teck Hui, JLL national research director, said the buyer response to both projects was consistent with previous EC launches. "The Mortgage Servicing Ratio has affected EC demand, and more recently, the higher income ceiling for HDBs could affect demand as well."

The income ceiling for new public housing was raised by $2,000 last month to $12,000 for HDB homes and to $14,000 for ECs.

Mr Ong also noted that pricing is key, with previous launches at about $800 psf meeting buyer resistance.

Signature at Yishun is priced at an average of $750 psf while The Criterion is said to be going for around $780 psf.

A spokesman for Signature at Yishun said the sales response was "very encouraging...in view of the intense competition in the Yishun EC market".

Three- and four-bedroom units accounted for the bulk of total sales, he said. The two-bedders are priced from $533,000 and three-bedders from $660,000. A four-bedroom unit is about $851,000.

Buyers with a monthly household income of above $12,000 formed about 20 per cent of the weekend buyers, said the project spokesman.

Buyers in this income segment formed a similar proportion of e-applications lodged for The Criterion, said CDL.

While developers can still expect a relatively large portion of units to be sold in the first week of launching, other potential buyers will probably take longer to decide, said Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE research head for Singapore and South-east Asia.

"The market is unlikely to see fully sold-out developments within an immediate launch period. People who fail to get their choice units can now take their time to decide over a spectrum of other EC developments," he added.

Upcoming EC launches include Wandervale in Choa Chu Kang Drive by Sim Lian Land, with e-applications expected to open in coming months, and Parc Life in Sembawang by Frasers Centrepoint.

An EC land parcel in Yio Chu Kang is to be launched in December as part of the Government Land Sales programme. Strong bids are expected given the mature location, said Mr Lee Liat Yeang, a partner at Rodyk & Davidson.

Experts note that the higher income ceiling for flats could mean that potential EC buyers may now opt for Housing Board units, especially given the economic climate.

They could also be looking forward to the November HDB launch when about 12,000 new flats will be offered, including some in the highly anticipated Bidadari estate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 30, 2015, with the headline 'No rush for ECs despite rule changes'. Print Edition | Subscribe