New private home sales dive 64% in August

The crowd at the Stirling Residences show suite in July. The property was among the top sellers last month, with 91 units transacted at a median price of $1,757 per sq ft.
The crowd at the Stirling Residences show suite in July. The property was among the top sellers last month, with 91 units transacted at a median price of $1,757 per sq ft.PHOTO: LOGAN PROPERTY

Double whammy of cooling measures and Hungry Ghost festival spooks buyers

Developers in Singapore sold 616 private homes last month, making for a 64.3 per cent fall from the 1,724 units they moved in July and a 50.6 per cent drop from the 1,246 units booked in August last year.

The decline comes on the back of a double whammy of property cooling measures that took effect on July 6 and the Hungry Ghost Festival last month, when some would avoid entering into property deals.

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

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

Including ECs, developers moved 639 units last month - down from the 1,776 units in the previous month and 1,587 units sold in August last year.

Developers also held back launches during the Hungry Ghost month and in the immediate aftermath of the cooling measures. Including ECs, 534 new units were launched last month, 76.2 per cent lower than July's 2,239 units and 32.7 per cent below the 794 units in August last year.

Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie, said the data showed that the latest property curbs "are starting to take a significant toll on private home demand".

"While August is traditionally slower for sales and launches, last month's figure is in stark contrast to the same period last year, where 794 new homes were launched and 1,246 units were sold," she said.

Excluding ECs, 6,287 units were sold in the first eight months of this year, 25.1 per cent less than the 8,397 units sold for the same period a year ago. "The sales decline is not beyond expectation as the market often responds correspondingly with each round of intervention," said Ms Sun.

She added that the tighter fin-ancing rules and increased Additional Buyer's Stamp Duty of up to 20 per cent for foreign buyers "have also sent foreigners scurrying from the market".

Based on URA data as of yesterday, foreigners' share of the new non-landed housing pie sank to a low of 5.1 per cent last month, down from 7.4 per cent a year ago. The last low was in July 2015, when foreigners accounted for only 4.2 per cent of the market.

Knight Frank noted that the Hungry Ghost Festival last year was in September. For that month, the number of sales (excluding ECs) was 657 units, some 41 more units than the 616 units sold in August this year.

Last month's top-selling project was The Tre Ver in Potong Pasir, with 164 units sold at a median price of $1,551 per sq ft (psf).

Other top sellers for last month included Stirling Residences, with 91 units transacted at a median price of $1,757 psf; Park Colonial in Woodleigh Lane, with 79 units sold at a median price of $1,713 psf; and Riverfront Residences in Hougang, with 76 units sold at a median price of $1,311 psf.

Ms Tricia Song, Colliers International's head of research for Singapore, expects prices to hold relatively flat for the rest of the year, barring an external shock.

She added that from the take-up, there appeared to be demand for properties that are "well-located and priced realistically".

With August out of the way, analysts are keeping a close watch on this month's sales.

A report by DBS Equity Research said that the bank's analysts had visited two new property pre-views at the weekend, Mayfair Gardens in Bukit Timah and Jui Residences in Potong Pasir, and noted that there was a decent-size crowd. Both will be launched later this month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 18, 2018, with the headline 'New private home sales dive 64% in August'. Print Edition | Subscribe