March new private home sales jump 82% from February, more than double from year ago

Developers' sales of new private homes continued their good run in March.
Developers' sales of new private homes continued their good run in March. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Developers' sales of new private homes surged to a near four-year high in March, the month when the Government tweaked some property cooling measures.

The 1,780 units sold last month was 81.8 per cent higher than the 979 units booked in February and more than double the 843 homes sold in the same month last year, figures released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday (April 17) showed.

There were also 578 executive condominium (EC) units taken up in March - a 75.7 per cent jump from the 329 ECs sold in February.

Developers launched 1,527 units for sale in March, 16.7 per cent more than the 1,308 in February.

"These are very strong numbers, indicative of the latent buying demand that is still very much prevalent in the market today," said Eugene Lim, ERA Realty Network key executive officer.

The strong sale numbers were clearly boosted by the well-received launches of Grandeur Park Residences, Park Place Residences At PLQ and iNz Residence, he said. The projects sold 484, 217 and 187 units respectively.

"Also, the slight tweak to the cooling measures might have injected a shot of optimism amongst buyers," he added. "Most buyers of new projects are able to accept the holding period of three years as that is typically the time taken to construct the project. Upon the respective projects attaining the temporary occupational permit (TOP), buyers may have the option of reselling the units without having to incur seller's stamp duty (SSD)."

The Government announced on March 10 several tweaks to property curbs that were mostly implemented in 2013. The biggest change was that home owners now only have to wait three years before selling their properties to avoid paying the SSD, down from four years previously. This applies to residential properties bought on or after March 11. The SSD was also cut by four percentage points for each tier.

Mr Lim also noted that smaller units were again the main contributor of sales at newly launched projects in March, showing that buyers remained price-sensitive.

Some 1,516 caveats were lodged for units priced below S$1.5 million in the March sales while two-bedroom and smaller units accounted for 352 and 129 units at Grandeur Park Residences and Park Place Residences At PLQ respectively.

He said the coming months will see more projects being launched as developers look to capitalise on the strong buying momentum.

"Overall, for 2017, we are expecting developer sales to be about 8,000 to 9,000 private residential units and 2,500 to 3,000 EC units," he said.