New private home sales hit over 2-year high in September: URA data

Year on year, sales rose 4.65 per cent from 1,270 units in September 2019. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The private home market continues to defy gravity amid the pandemic, with last month's sales up for a fifth straight month to hit levels not seen for more than two years.

The robust numbers - 1,329 units sold, 5.6 per cent more than the 1,258 in August - came despite a fall in the number of new homes launched last month.

This was the highest number of private new home transactions since July 2018, when 1,724 units were transacted after new property cooling measures fuelled a surge in sales from buyers rushing to beat the deadline.

In another sign of the market's resilience, last month's sales were 4.65 per cent ahead of the 1,270 units moved in the same month last year.

The figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Thursday (Oct 15) exclude executive condominium (EC) units, which are a public-private housing hybrid.

The URA clampdown on developers reissuing an option to purchase to the same buyer of the same unit is widely expected to have a slight chilling effect on sales as it may deter marginal buyers from committing prematurely.

"But based on the run rate of some 152 new private homes sold in the first four days of October, based on caveats downloaded on Oct 14, sales are still quite strong, suggesting genuine demand," said Ms Tricia Song, head of research for Singapore at Colliers International.

Attractively priced projects in the city fringe - known as the rest of central region - continued to fuel sales last month, accounting for nearly 65 per cent of total transactions, analysts noted.

The standout among three new non-landed launches last month was Penrose in Sims Drive, while existing top sellers such as JadeScape and The Woodleigh Residences also fared well.

Penrose shifted 389 units at a median price of $1,541 psf to account for about 45 per cent of total developer sales in the city fringe, according to Knight Frank.

Two other launches in that zone - Verdale and Myra - managed to sell 59 units in total last month.

However, the suburbs, or outside central region, and the prime district, or core central region, saw a slight month-on-month dip in transactions as demand eased.

Despite sales volumes in the outside central region falling by about 24 per cent from August, previously launched projects Treasure at Tampines and The Garden Residences continue to sell well, Knight Frank said.

If ECs are included, 1,385 new homes were sold last month, up 5.8 per cent from August and 6.7 per cent higher than a year earlier, URA data showed.

There were 1,340 private homes launched last month, down 15.3 per cent from 1,582 units in August, and nearly 22 per cent lower than a year earlier. No EC projects were launched last month.

Developers sold 7,532 new homes in the first nine months of the year, compared with 7,469 in the same period last year, a performance that has far exceeded expectations given rising retrenchments, wage cuts and the pandemic-induced recession, analysts say.

"In the second and third quarters, severe GDP (gross domestic product) contractions of minus 13.3 per cent and minus 7 per cent respectively were recorded. But the overall price index for private homes rose 0.3 per cent in the second quarter and 0.8 per cent in the third (based on flash estimates)," said Mr Ong Teck Hui, JLL's senior director of research and consultancy.

"The incongruence between economic performance and home prices as well as upbeat sales volume in the last few months raises the question of whether the residential market is gradually being delinked from the economy," he said.

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