Buyers were spoilt for choice last month when developers released more new homes despite the festive month and a wary market.
There were 596 private homes launched in February - nearly 200 per cent more than the same month last year and up nearly 20 per cent from January's 498 units.
Sales also enjoyed an uptick despite the Chinese New Year holidays and an absence of new launches.
Developers moved 455 private homes in February, up 4.4 per cent on January and an 18.5 per cent increase on the 384 units sold a year ago, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority data yesterday.
Some analysts believe that February sales were stable given the difficult conditions since the July cooling measures but Citi Research said: "Overall initial take-up (within the first weekend) of nine new launches this year has been very weak at 8 per cent, compared to 20 per cent for the launches in the second half of 2018.
"We think this reflects buyers' increasing awareness of the sizeable options, rising mortgage rates and higher land costs.
INITIAL TAKE-UP WEAK
Overall initial take-up (within the first weekend) of nine new launches this year has been very weak at 8 per cent, compared to 20 per cent for the launches in the second half of 2018... We think this reflects buyers' increasing awareness of the sizeable options, rising mortgage rates and higher land costs... We think the only way for volumes to improve is for developers to reduce prices, which we believe is still early at this stage of the cycle.
"We think the only way for volumes to improve is for developers to reduce prices, which we believe is still early at this stage of the cycle."
Mr Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research & consultancy at JLL, said developers are trying to release projects earlier before competition intensifies with several new launches expected later this year.
There are also 36,000 unsold units - completed and uncompleted - to contend with, he noted, adding that market sentiment could also soften due to the uncertain external environment and slower economic growth.
New launches have resumed this month with two mega projects. The 1,410-unit The Florence Residences in Kovan launched on March 2 and the 2,203-unit Treasure At Tampines - touted as Singapore's biggest private residential project - held its preview launch yesterday.
"Home buyers will likely remain price-sensitive, preferring projects that are well-located ... and competitively priced," said OrangeTee & Tie research and consultancy head Christine Sun.
Affinity at Serangoon launched the most units last month with 250 released. Riverfront Residences put 70 on the market while The Tapestry had 100, Artra 81 and The Tre Ver launched 50 units.
News of the upcoming first phase of the Cross Island Line helped projects in Serangoon like Affinity at Serangoon, Riverfront Residences and The Garden Residences, all near proposed stations.
Affinity at Serangoon and Riverfront Residences accounted for more than half of February's launched units, and contributed to 30 per cent of total sales.
Many developers have also increased commissions to incentivise agents, Ms Sun added.
International Property Advisor chief executive Ku Swee Yong warned that "higher interest rates and an increase in bank foreclosure sales are clear indications that buyers should err on the side of prudence".
Mortgagee listings, which refer to properties repossessed by banks, jumped to 472 last year, up 27 per cent from 2017 - the highest annual level since the start of Colliers International's database in 2008.
Ms Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers International, said: "The number of mortgagee listings has risen gradually in the last five years, possibly stemming from the bull run ... in 2011, 2012 and 2013, when some buyers might have snapped up units at elevated prices and subsequently found themselves unable to service the mortgage payments.
"This year, we expect property auction listings - both owners' and mortgagee listings - and sales to grow as cooling measures continue to bite ... and more owners putting up non-residential properties for sale."