New private home sales hit 4-year high for April but new Covid-19 curbs may cool market

The proportion of non-landed homes (excluding EC) that sold above $2,000 psf leapt to 55.4 per cent in April.
The proportion of non-landed homes (excluding EC) that sold above $2,000 psf leapt to 55.4 per cent in April.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - New private home sales dipped in April from a month ago, but they have surged more than four times since April 2020, when the Covid-19 circuit breaker shut down all show flats.

An estimated 1,262 new homes were sold last month - the highest April take up since 2017 - but were down 2.6 per cent from March. Year on year, sales skyrocketed 356 per cent from last year.

An estimated 4,755 new private homes were sold in the first four months of this year, nearly double the 2,426 units sold in the same period last year, according to JLL.

But analysts warned that it is uncertain if this strong momentum will continue as some buyers are likely to be cautious following the jump in unlinked Covid-19 community cases.

"An early containment of the infections would restore confidence and sustain sales take-up, but a prolonged spread could moderate market activity," Mr Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research & consultancy at JLL, said.

Ms Catherine He, director of research, Southeast Asia, CBRE, warned that with expected construction delays following an entry ban on long-term pass holders from India and Bangladesh, more home buyers may turn to the resale market, which could affect new home sales.

Also, in a potential dampener for May and June sales, there are no new home launches slated for the second half of May and all of June, following eight launches (excluding ECs) in the first 4.5 months this year, noted Mr Mark Yip, chief executive of Huttons Asia.

The new restrictions under phase two (heightened alert) from May 16 to June 13 introduced in response to increased unlinked community infections could cool the market, he said.

"The lowered capacity to one person per 16 sq m and two per group in showflats will lengthen buyers' decision-making process and further lower transaction volumes in May and June," he said.

But virtual tours of the showflats may help a little, he added.

Technology infrastructure has been stepped up since last year's circuit breaker, said Ms Christine Sun, OrangeTee & Tie senior vice-president, research and analytics.

"Agents and buyers are getting more accustomed to virtual property viewings through videos and live streams. Therefore, the sector seems to be more prepared for business continuity than a year ago," she said.

Meanwhile, developers launched 1,038 units for sale in April, up more than 8 per cent from 959 units in March. Year on year, they launched 62 per cent more units.

There were four launches last month - the Irwell Hill Residences, One-North Eden, Peak Residence and Grange 1866.

Up to five launches are expected in July for now - Klimt Cairnhill, Pasir Ris 8, Perfect Ten, The Watergardens at Canberra and Parc Greenwich (EC), Huttons said.

The figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority yesterday exclude executive condominium (EC) units - a public-private housing hybrid.

Including ECs sold, developers moved 1,342 new homes last month - down 2.3 per cent from March, but up 358 per cent from a year ago. There were no new EC launches last month.

Despite the dip in April's sales, a bigger proportion of pricier homes were sold, Ms Sun noted.

The proportion of non-landed homes (excluding EC) that sold above $2,000 per square foot (psf) jumped from 38.8 per cent in February to 55.4 per cent in April, indicating consumer confidence, she said.

Overall, most of April's sales excluding ECs (40.2 per cent) were in the the city fringe or the rest of central region, boosted by One-North Eden, which sold more than 85 per cent of its units during its launch weekend.

This was followed by the prime or core central region (35.2 per cent), driven by Irwell Hill Residences, April's top seller, with 58 per cent or 315 units sold at a median price of $2,628 psf. The project's selling points include its proximity to the upcoming Great World MRT and the Orchard Road shopping belt, PropNex said.

The suburbs or outside central region accounted for 24.6 per cent of total sales.

In the EC market, developers sold 80 new units in April, up from 77 in March. Launched in January, Parc Central Residences was the top EC seller, moving 37 units at a median price of $1,169 psf.