CDL's trials a snapshot of soft market

The Brownstone, a 638-unit executive condominium, was launched by CDL in July. So far, 289 units have been sold. However, The Criterion, an EC the developer launched in September, has not fared as well.
The Brownstone, a 638-unit executive condominium, was launched by CDL in July. So far, 289 units have been sold. However, The Criterion, an EC the developer launched in September, has not fared as well. PHOTO: CITY DEVELOPMENTS LIMITED

High-end projects and ECs prove challenging for developers, given declining prices and weak demand

For anyone seeking a full picture of the myriad challenges facing local property firms, City Developments' (CDL) latest financial report serves as a good primer.

Soft sales, declining prices and an uncertain economic outlook are just some of the trials they are dealing with today.

CDL noted that there are pockets of growth and opportunities, especially in overseas markets such as Britain and China.

Overall, however, the outlook is grim: "Headwinds continue to dominate both domestically and globally. Markets remain highly sensitive, unpredictable and challenging."

Private home prices in Singapore continue to decline across all market segments, CDL said.

Demand for homes, especially in the high-end segment, remains tepid.

The executive condominium (EC) market has been particularly challenging for developers, especially as it caters to a limited pool of eligible buyers.

"Notwithstanding the recent increase of the income eligibility ceiling, potential buyers have many choices currently, including Build-To-Order projects," CDL said.

"The group is of the view that, with today's supply of ECs in the marketplace, buyers are taking more time to shop around and identify options which best suit their needs."

CDL has had mixed results with the ECs it launched this year. In July, the firm launched The Brownstone, a 638-unit EC in Canberra Drive in Sembawang. It has received a healthy response, with 289 units sold so far.

So CDL launched another EC, The Criterion, in late September.

The 505-unit project has not done so well, having sold just 45 units so far.

CDL sounded a cautiously optimistic tone on China, where it has four projects under development.

"There have been signs of improvements, with increased buying activity in certain cities, including Shanghai, after the government lifted several cooling measures and relaxed loan restrictions," the firm said.

CDL was similarly sanguine on Japan. Despite a slow economic environment, economic measures have also helped the real estate sector, particularly in Tokyo, the firm said.

In Britain, CDL said it is shifting its focus towards larger projects.

"While some downside risks from continued international volatility persist, overall prospects remain sound, with London and the South East growing faster than the remainder of the United Kingdom."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2015, with the headline 'CDL's trials a snapshot of soft market'. Print Edition | Subscribe