New private home sales fall to five-year low in April

Developers in Singapore sold 277 private homes in April.
Developers in Singapore sold 277 private homes in April.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

New private home sales plunged to a five-year low last month, and this month is expected to be a write-off as show-flat galleries stay closed for the whole month and new launches are pushed back further due to the extended circuit breaker.

Developers in Singapore sold 277 private homes last month, down 58 per cent from 660 homes in March, and down 62.4 per cent year on year as the property market lay dormant.

Last month's sales were the lowest since December 2014 when 230 units were taken up, but still above the all-time low of 108 units sold in January 2009 amid the global financial crisis.

This came even as more new private homes were launched for sale: 640 units in April, up 10.7 per cent from 578 in March, and 44 per cent higher than a year ago.

The figures, released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority yesterday, exclude executive condominium (EC) units, which are a public-private housing hybrid.

Almost 100 of the 277 private home units were sold after the circuit breaker period began on April 7, though some of these buyers may have visited the show-flats before the measures kicked in, said analysts.

"If we strip out sales that occurred in April before the circuit breaker began, only about one-third were sold during the circuit breaker period... Even when show-flats reopen, the ongoing recession and uncertainty due to Covid-19 could continue to weigh on demand for private homes," said Mr Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research and consultancy at JLL.

New launches, excluding ECs, made up only 0.7 per cent of developers' sales last month, versus 2 per cent in March, said Ms Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers International.

New sales were propped up mainly by Kopar At Newton, which sold 83 units last month. Its launch took place in the first week of last month before the circuit breaker kicked in.

Other top sellers last month were existing projects in the city fringe and suburbs that had a lower price quantum of $1.2 million to $1.5 million. "Buyers are still price-sensitive. We estimate 58 per cent of total sales in April were at the median price of $1,000 per sq ft (psf) to $2,000 psf," Ms Song said.

Including ECs, developers moved 293 units last month, down 67.6 per cent from March's 904 units, and 60.7 per cent lower than the 746 sold in April last year.

Of the 293 units, 65.5 per cent, or 192 units, were transacted before the circuit breaker began on April 7.

Slightly more than a third of 277 units sold were from the core central region, said Ms Christine Sun, head of research and consultancy at OrangeTee & Tie.

 
 

The highest-priced private home transacted last month was a super-luxury condominium at 15 Holland Hill for $13.8 million, or $2,692 psf, on April 2, she said.

If the circuit breaker period ends on June 1 as expected, show-flat viewings and sales activity should pick up owing to the pent-up demand, said Ms Christine Li, Cushman & Wakefield's head of research for Singapore and South-east Asia.

New launches could pick up in June - typically a slow month for launches due to the school holidays - because the holidays have been brought forward to this month and school resumes in June this year following changes made due to the pandemic, she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2020, with the headline 'New private home sales fall to five-year low in April'. Subscribe