September a lacklustre month for new private home sales

High-rise private apartments in the Scotts Road and Cairnhill area.
High-rise private apartments in the Scotts Road and Cairnhill area. PHOTO: ST FILE

Sales of new private homes were moribund again last month with no condominiums launched, though things look slightly brighter for the rest of the year.

Developers sold just 341 private homes last month, Urban Redevelopment Authority data released yesterday showed - 31.1 per cent less than August's 495 and the lowest since the 230 sales posted last December.

On a more upbeat note, this year's sales tally is expected to be a little better than last year's. The 7,316 new private homes sold then were the least since the 2008 financial crisis, when 4,264 homes were sold.

The tally for the first three quarters of this year is about 6,011 homes, just above the 5,940 homes sold in the same period last year.

More launches are due in the fourth quarter, including Principal Garden in Prince Charles Crescent near Alexandra Road, The Andrew Residences in Potong Pasir and Thomson Impressions in Lorong Puntong near Upper Thomson Road.

New home sales this year were lifted by launches of several large projects that sold well, including High Park Residences in Fernvale Road, North Park Residences in Yishun Central 1, and Botanique at Bartley in Upper Paya Lebar Road.

"But it is not time to pop the champagne. Many units sold this year were very small units such as one- and two-bedders," said SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak. "There is still investment demand and a full-year tally of 7,000 to 8,000 would seem the norm amid prevailing cooling measures."

Buyers continue to be drawn to attractively priced projects, said PropNex chief executive officer Mohd Ismail. For example, Botanique at Bartley, while classed as suburban property, is very close to the city fringe and sold 38 units at a median price of $1,293 per sq ft (psf) last month - well below typical city fringe prices of $1,400 psf to $1,600 psf, he said. It was launched in April.

High Park Residences, launched in July, was again the top seller last month with 46 units sold at a median price of $941 psf.

However, developers have mostly maintained rather than cut prices. "Median prices achieved in September do not really reflect any recent discounts," said OrangeTee research manager Wong Xian Yang.

Last month's new home sales tally of 341 was slightly lower than expected. New sales are expected to be 380 to 420 units for months with no new launches and minimal spillover from launches in the preceding month, said Mr Alan Cheong, Savills Singapore research head. "One possibility could be the effect of the extreme haze situation... Another could have been the dour state of the equity markets which affected sentiments across Asia," he said.

However, transactions have risen in the secondary market. Private home resales in the first three quarters was 4,967, or 19.8 per cent higher than the same period last year, but 22.3 per cent lower than in 2013.

Including executive condos (ECs), 628 private homes were sold last month, down from 979 in August. A new EC, Signature at Yishun, was launched last month and sold 93 units at a median price of $768 psf.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2015, with the headline 'September a lacklustre month for new private home sales'. Print Edition | Subscribe