SINGAPORE - New private home sales stabilised in April, with a rise in luxury home sales and a growing number of foreign buyers despite property cooling measures.
Buyers snapped up 653 new private homes last month, on a par with the 654 in March, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) data released on Tuesday (May 17).
But transactions plunged 48.6 per cent from the 1,270 units a year ago.
Developers rolled out 397 new homes last month, up 28.5 per cent from 309 in March. The volume of new units launched was down 61.8 per cent from 1,038 units a year earlier.
For executive condominiums (EC), 186 units changed hands in April from 48 units in March, propped up by the North Gaia EC launch in Yishun which sold 166 of its 616 units.
Luxury homes sales rose in April, with 115 units sold for at least $3 million each, up from 89 units in March, based on URA's Realis data.
Thirty-five units were sold for at least $5 million each in April, compared with 24 units the month before.
Three units in the ultra-luxury development Les Maisons Nassim in Nassim Road changed hands at above $35 million each. The highest transacted price was $49 million for a 8,633 sq ft unit, noted OrangeTee & Tie senior vice-president of research and analytics Christine Sun.
Foreign buyers snapped up 59 non-landed private homes (excluding ECs) last month, more than double the 25 units in March. Last month's sales were also above the past year's average of 40 units.
Most of the units sold to foreign buyers were in the core central region and city fringe.
Overall, private homes in the city fringe accounted for 44.3 per cent of the total sales volume last month. Homes in core central Singapore accounted for 31.5 per cent, while the remaining 24.2 per cent were in the suburbs.
The increase in luxury home purchases and foreign buyers indicates that investors continue to view properties in Singapore favourably despite the cooling measures, Ms Sun said.
The additional buyer's stamp duty (ABSD) is 30 per cent for foreigners buying any residential property.
"Singapore has gained the upper hand against many other countries with the speed of our economic recovery and transition into endemic (Covid-19) living. These have boosted investors' confidence to park their funds here for the long run," Ms Sun added.
Mr Mohan Sandrasegeran, a research and content analyst at property marketplace Ohmyhome, said the lifting of travel restrictions, imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, has boosted foreign buyers' confidence.
"However, it might be early to speculate whether foreigners' demand is resuming once again, or if it was a one-off event," he said.
Recent market instability, such as the turbulent stock markets and the volatile cryptocurrency market, have likely led to foreigners exploring their options in the Singapore property market, he said.
CBRE head of research for South-east Asia Tricia Song noted that sales in the core central region surpassed those in the suburbs, despite the greater impact of property curbs on the high-end market segment.
"This could be due to the lower stock of unsold units in the mass market. Some core central region projects have also stepped up their marketing campaigns with discounts," she added.
The lack of major mass market launches hindered overall developers' sales amid higher ABSD rates and rising interest rates, said PropNex Realty's head of research and content Wong Siew Ying.
She said: "With the anticipated increase in mortgage interest rates, we could see more prudent home buyers seeking to right-size their purchase, by opting for smaller units with a more manageable price quantum."
But the private residential market still showed healthy demand, supported by Housing Board upgraders on the back of strong HDB resale prices, said Colliers Singapore head of research Catherine He.
"Buyers are also motivated to lock in mortgage rates ahead of further rate hikes," she added.
The property analysts said demand could pick up in May with new launches such as the 407-unit Piccadilly Grand in Farrer Park and 298-unit LIV @ MB in East Coast.
Piccadilly Grand had sold 315 out of its 407 units during its launch weekend earlier in May, indicating an interest in mixed-use projects and renewed confidence in Singapore's economy and residential market, said CBRE's Ms Song.
She expects prices to be flat or to rise by 3 per cent this year.