New home sales in January up amid global economic uncertainty

New home sales held their own in January amid the volatile global economic climate and the coronavirus outbreak in the latter part of the month.

Developers sold 618 private homes - up 14.9 per cent from the 538 moved in December, and 41 per cent ahead of the 437 units sold in January last year.

This made it the best-performing January sales in seven years, Urban Redevelopment Authority data showed yesterday. The figures exclude executive condominiums (ECs).

Last month's sales were driven by competitively priced existing projects and a spurt of buying by foreigners in the prime or core central region, analysts said.

There were 598 units released in January, up 61.6 per cent on the 370 in December, with three new high-end projects - Leedon Green, The Avenir and Van Holland - all launched in the prime district. Sales in this zone accounted for 21.5 per cent of all transactions - the highest level since January last year.

The three new launches saw a total of 74 units sold last month, said Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie.

Demand stayed resilient for earlier launches, driven by affordable pricing.

Projects in the city fringes or rest of central region accounted for 41.9 per cent of the total sales (excluding ECs), followed by the suburban areas or outside central region at 36.6 per cent, she added.

The top five best-selling projects in January were Jadescape, Treasure At Tampines, Parc Esta, Parc Botannia and Parc Clematis.

Jadescape in Shunfu Road, which was launched in September 2018, was the standout, with 56 units sold at a median price of $1,690 per sq ft.

The second highest seller was Treasure At Tampines, which sold 50 units at a median price of $1,371 psf.

Developers moved 638 units last month including ECs, up 15.8 per cent from December and 45.7 per cent higher than in January last year.

Whether this sales momentum can be sustained will depend on whether there is a crisis of confidence in the market due to the economic damage from the virus outbreak, said Ms Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore, Colliers International.

There are concerns that the outbreak could dent demand for homes as people shun crowded places such as showflats, and foreign buyers, particularly those from China, postpone purchases because of the travel curbs.

Jadescape in Shunfu Road was the best performer last month, moving 56 units at a median price of $1,690 per sq ft. The project was launched in September 2018. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

If the outbreak is protracted, some of this year's planned new launches could be pushed to 2021, Ms Song added.

But home buyers seem to have shrugged off virus fears for now.

Realis data shows that 146 new transactions were recorded in the first nine days of February, excluding ECs.

Wing Tai Asia's 522-unit The M condominium reportedly drew 1,000 visitors at its preview on Saturday. ECs also pulled their weight, with Parc Canberra selling 64 per cent or 316 out of 496 apartments. Meanwhile, the 548-unit OLA in Anchorvale will launch by the end of the month.

January's sales figures also show that underlying demand is healthy, with analysts expecting pent-up demand to boost transactions in the second half of the year if the virus threat abates.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2020, with the headline New home sales in January up amid global economic uncertainty. Subscribe