Private home sales slump adds to property gloom

Riverfront Residences' show-flat after the latest property cooling measures kicked in on July 6, a stark contrast to the crowds that gathered there the night before when the curbs were announced.
Riverfront Residences' show-flat after the latest property cooling measures kicked in on July 6, a stark contrast to the crowds that gathered there the night before when the curbs were announced.ST FILE PHOTO

Wary home-seekers weigh options in face of stark year-on-year drop and property curbs

These are testing times for property watchers given a sales dive last month, a likely spike this month as buyers rushed to beat the cooling measures, and hints of a slump as wary home-seekers weigh their options.

Last month's severe drop in transactions will draw the most attention: Developers sold just 654 private homes, 41.7 per cent lower than in May and 20.2 per cent below the same month last year.

Add in the 52 executive condominium (EC) units moved and total sales come to 706 units - a 43.9 per cent decline from May and 33.6 per cent down on last year, Urban Redevelopment Authority data showed yesterday.

While the drop from May to June was in line with the reduction in the number of homes launched, the year-on-year decline is more stark. There were more than four times the number of units launched last month than in the same month last year, yet sales dived.

Observers point to the head-on competition between Affinity At Serangoon and nearby The Garden Residences for last month's sales plunge, with the projects potentially cannibalising demand from each other.

"Buyers could have also baulked at pricing levels as both sites were launched at above $1,550 psf, a benchmark for the vicinity," said Ms Christine Li, senior director for research at Cushman & Wakefield.

The Oxley-led consortium moved 107 units at Affinity At Serangoon at a median price of $1,584 per square foot (psf) last month, while Keppel Land and Wing Tai Holdings sold 64 units at The Garden Residences at a median $1,662 psf.

What happens next is anyone's guess. Developer sales are expected to spike this month on the back of a last-minute buying frenzy on the night before new cooling measures kicked in on July 6.

But how the measures will impact the market in the coming months is less clear, but many market watchers forecast a dampening effect on demand. Some agents told The Straits Times that crowds visiting show-flats were much smaller over the weekend.

One agent, who declined to be named, said potential buyers are taking time to digest the property curbs. "They do not want to rush into buying a unit and need more time to do their sums," he added.

Other agents said the curbs have not stopped potential buyers from getting their desired units. Property asset adviser Kenny Lee said he still gets the same number of inquiries to visit show-flats. "But before committing to a property, they are doing more research, asking more questions and seeing if developers are offering incentives."

Given the uncertainty, some developers are reconsidering their project launch dates.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'Private home sales slump adds to property gloom'. Print Edition | Subscribe