New private home sales remain sluggish

Kingsford Waterbay (left) in Upper Serangoon was one of the two best-selling private projects last month, with 18 units sold. The other is The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio.
Kingsford Waterbay in Upper Serangoon was one of the two best-selling private projects last month, with 18 units sold. The other is The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio.PHOTO: KINGSFORD DEVELOPMENT

Fewer launches in Feb the key factor, say experts; Q1 volumes look set to hit 3-year low

New homes sales last month were sluggish, with first-quarter volumes now expected to be the lowest in the past three years.

However, the key factor was fewer launches in February, rather than any further drop-off in buying sentiment, industry observers said.

Developers sold 301 units last month, a 6.8 per cent fall from January and 22.8 per cent weaker than a year back, new Urban Redevelopment Authority figures show.

Last month's tally was the lowest in over a year - after 230 new homes were sold in December 2014.

No major new launches were held in the first two months of this year, as developers held back due to the stock market volatility and Chinese New Year festivities.

Only the 40-unit 183 Longhaus in Upper Thomson Road was launched last month, with 11 units moved at a median price of $1,659 per sq ft (psf). In contrast, the 1,024-unit Sims Urban Oasis was launched in February last year.

Sales numbers for March should pick up, given the decent take-up seen at new launches Cairnhill Nine and The Wisteria last weekend.

Still, volumes for the first quarter could come in at 1,000 to 1,200 units, or 10 per cent to 15 per cent lower than that of the same period last year, said PropNex Realty chief executive Mohd Ismail Gafoor.

Sentiment is not poorer on the ground, said ERA senior division director Alex Lim. "It is based on the launches - when there are launches and they are priced correctly, units move. People have the cash and are looking to invest," he said.

Experts also noted a silver lining to the lower volumes. The take-up rate or ratio of units sold to those launched was 144 per cent last month and 203 per cent in January, said SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak. And 129 executive condominium units were sold last month, even in the fourth straight month without a launch.

The best-selling private projects were suburban condominiums The Panorama in Ang Mo Kio and Kingsford Waterbay in Upper Serangoon, both of which sold 18 units each. On the exec condo front, The Terrace was top with 23 units sold at a median price of $782 psf.

"At this pace, the market should see a steady reduction of the unsold inventory of both private homes and exec condos," said Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE research head for Singapore and South-east Asia.

Across regions, developers sold 25 units in the core central region, 82 units in the city fringes and 194 units in the suburbs. Including exec condos, a total of 430 homes were sold, down 10.2 per cent from January and 5.5 per cent lower than February last year.

More buying activity should occur in coming months with more launches, noted ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim. Sturdee Residences in Beatty Road should be launched next month or in May, as well as a condo in Toa Payoh Lorong 4, while exec condos The Visionaire and Parc Life, both in Sembawang, should be launching in these months as well.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2016, with the headline 'New private home sales remain sluggish'. Print Edition | Subscribe