Sales of new private homes plunge in August

Private housing in the Orchard and Cairnhill estates.
Private housing in the Orchard and Cairnhill estates.ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Sales of new private homes slumped last month after hitting a one-year high in July.

Developers sold 473 new units last month, down 56.6 per cent from the 1,091 moved in July and 7.8 per cent below the 513 homes transacted in August last year.

Analysts attributed the tepid sales to the Hungry Ghost Festival, which typically sees weaker market activity, as well as the lack of major new launches in the month. "There is also inertia to commit as buyers remain on the sidelines due to ongoing (cooling) measures and/or an anticipation of further price declines," said PropNex Realty chief executive Mohamed Ismail Gafoor.

Mass market homes in the suburbs led sales last month, with 285 units moved, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday.

This was followed by 139 city fringe sales and 49 units moved in the core central region.

Developers put 590 units on the market last month, compared with 624 in July. No executive condominium (EC)  units were released following the 862 units put up for sale in July. There were 332 new EC units sold last month, markedly down from the 830 that changed hands in July. If ECs are included, total sales came in at 805 units last month, down from 979 in the same month last year.

Last month's top three selling projects were all ECs: Treasure Crest in Anchorvale Crescent moved 56 units at a median price of $745 per sq ft (psf); Sol Acres in Choa Chu Kang sold 46 homes at a median price of $781 psf; and 37 units were transacted at Bellewoods in Woodlands at a median price of $769 psf.

"In the absence of new launches, buyers turned to existing projects for their purchases... ECs continue to find favour with buyers, possibly due to their lower prices and slightly more spacious sizes," noted ERA Realty Network key executive officer Eugene Lim.

He said EC sales are up 75 per cent to 3,003 units this year over the same period last year.

The two best-selling private residential projects were Lake Grande in Jurong, which sold 35 units at a median price of $1,317 psf, and The Trilinq in Clementi, with sales of 30 units at a median price of $1,413 psf.

Analysts said that many projects that have been on the market for some time have seen sales pick up this year.

Consultancy JLL noted that some previously launched projects had released more units last month, including 128 at The Crest, 100 each at The Glades and Kingsford Waterbay, and 55 at The Trilinq. "This reflects confidence on the part of developers, who probably anticipate that sales will rebound again in the coming months," JLL said.

Buyers' choices have narrowed in the light of fewer launches in the pipeline due to the tapering of the Government Land Sales programme, analysts said.

"Demand has gravitated towards existing launches. Hence price levels are expected to hold in locations where existing unsold supply remains thin," said OrangeTee head of research and consultancy Wong Xian Yang.

All in, 5,378 new units - excluding ECs - were sold in the first eight months of the year, according to the URA. That is 6 per cent down from the 5,732 transacted over the same period last year.

"With no changes to the government curbs on the horizon this year, the private residential market is expected to remain soft," Mr Ismail said.

Analysts expect new private home sales to hit 7,500 to 8,000 units for the full year and new EC sales to be between 3,500 and 4,000 units.

Upcoming condo launches include Forest Woods in Lorong Lew Lian, Parc Riviera in West Coast Vale and The Alps Residences in Tampines.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2016, with the headline 'Sales of new private homes plunge in August'. Print Edition | Subscribe