New private home sales bounce back in September with 51% rise to 932 units: URA data

The crowd at the JadeScape showflat during its sales launch on Sept 22, 2018. PHOTO: QINGJIAN REALTY

SINGAPORE - Buyers returned to the market for new private homes, after the immediate hit from the latest cooling measures and with new projects launched after the Hungry Ghost month.

Developers sold 932 units in September, up 51 per cent from the 617 units sold in August and nearly 42 per cent higher than the 657 units booked in September last year.

The figures were released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Monday (Oct 15), based on its survey of licensed housing developers.

The above figures exclude executive condominium (EC) units, which are a public-private housing hybrid.

Including ECs, developers moved 944 units last month - reflecting an increase of 47.5 per cent from August's 640 units and also 4.2 per cent ahead of the 906 units sold in September last year.

Last month's top-selling project was the 99-year leasehold JadeScape, which is on the former Shunfu Ville site near the Marymount MRT station, with 327 units sold at a median price of $1,669 per sq ft (psf).

At another project that was also launched in September - Selangor Dredging's freehold Jui Residences in Serangoon Road - 31 units were transacted at a median price of $1,704 psf.

Oxley Holdings sold 82 units at Mayfair Gardens in Rifle Range Road - the project near King Albert Park MRT station had a median price of $1,945 psf. At The Jovell along Flora Drive in the Loyang area, Tripartite Developers moved 41 units at a median price of $1,259 psf last month. Both projects have 99-year leasehold tenure.

Cushman & Wakefield Singapore senior director and head of research Christine Li described the September sales numbers as "quite encouraging", given that the Hungry Ghost Festival continued into the early part of September. Some buyers avoid entering into property transactions during the festival.

"In fact, 2018's September sales are the highest September new home sales since 2013," noted Ms Li.

Giving his take, JLL national director of research and consultancy Ong Teck Hui said market confidence seems to have improved with seven new private residential projects launched in September. But while developers have become more confident in launching projects, "they are still grappling in setting an appropriate price level to attract buyers", he said.

"Those who do better in pricing (taking into account location and other attributes) manage to achieve better sales take-up. Even previously launched projects such as Stirling Residences, Park Colonial and Riverfront Residences are selling reasonably well at current price levels," he added.

Mr Desmond Sim, CBRE's head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia, noted that September's number brings total new private homes sales for the first three quarters of the year to an "encouraging" 7,220 units.

"While demand exuberance is restrained by existing measures, developers are also observed to be phasing out their launches, drip-feeding the market with supply so as to react to market movements accordingly," he said.

OrangeTee's head of research and consultancy Christine Sun noted that the tighter financing rules and higher additional buyers' stamp duty (ABSD) of up to 20 per cent for foreign buyers have clipped foreign buying interest further. Based on URA data as of Oct 15, foreigners' share of the new non-landed housing pie sank to 4.2 per cent in September, down from 5.8 per cent in August and 10.8 per cent year on year, she said. In contrast, Singaporean purchases remained resilient, rising 1.5 percentage points year on year to 83.6 per cent in September, she added.

Looking ahead, Mr Eugene Lim, key executive officer of ERA Realty Network, expects developers to move 9,000 to 10,000 private homes for the whole of 2018, down from the 10,566 units in 2017.

"With a wide selection of new projects coming up, buying demand is not expected to increase significantly as buyers evaluate their housing needs, options and finances," he said.

As for developers cutting prices, Mr Lim said: "We have not observed significant price discounts yet."

"Developers who have bought land at high prices would need to sell even higher in order to remain profitable. This provides support for property prices in the short term, barring any external shocks."

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