SINGAPORE - Sales of new private homes eased last month amid Covid-19 heightened alert measures, though demand is still holding up well, said market observers.
Developers sold 872 units in June, down 2.6 per cent from 895 units in May, according to figures from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) released on Thursday (July 15).
Viewing restrictions clearly had an impact on transaction volume, Huttons Asia senior director of research Lee Sze Teck said.
"The proportion of sale transactions from June 15 to 30, when viewing restrictions were eased, stands at 59.8 per cent, compared with 40.2 per cent from June 1 to 14," he noted.
The URA figures exclude executive condominium (EC) units - a public-private housing hybrid.
Including ECs sold, developers moved 962 new homes last month - 22 per cent lower than in May, and down 6.7 per cent from a year ago.
Mr Ong Teck Hui, senior director of research and consultancy at JLL, said: "With the heightened alert measures stretching into mid-June, it is not surprising that new home sales in June remained modest."
PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor said new private home sales have held up relatively well this time, compared with the drastic drop in transactions during the circuit breaker period last year, when sales plunged to 277 units in April and 487 units in May.
"We think consumer confidence has improved vastly since last year amid the economic recovery as well as the Government's clear road map towards reopening and the ramping up of the national vaccination programme," he said.
Year on year, new private home sales last month were down 12.6 per cent from June 2020.
But pent-up demand could push sales and prices higher in the third quarter, said Mr Ong.
"However, due to the unpredictability of Covid-19, the market should be watchful of future restrictive measures that could slow market activity again," he added.
Sales could improve this month as developers rush to launch their projects before the start of the Hungry Ghost Festival in the following one. Upcoming launches include The Watergardens at Canberra, Pasir Ris 8 and Klimt Cairnhill.
The Watergardens at Canberra and Pasir Ris 8 are the first two mass market launches this year and could do well if priced to capture the buoyant Housing Board resale market, said Huttons Asia chief executive Mark Yip.
"Given the limited launches in the suburbs recently, new projects in Pasir Ris, Canberra and Fernvale should attract strong interest from owner-occupiers, including HDB upgraders," Ms Wong Siew Ying, head of research and content at PropNex, said.
Developers launched 815 units in June, up nearly 58 per cent from May, and 36.5 per cent higher than a year ago. There were no new ECs launched last month.
Sales in June were dominated by previously launched projects, with city fringe and mass-market segments leading, and the high-end segment attracting bargain hunters after promotions were offered, Ms Tricia Song, head of research for South-east Asia at CBRE, said.
Hyll on Holland was the top seller last month, moving 87 units, or 27 per cent of its 319 units, after cutting prices to a median price of $2,387 per square foot (psf), from its launch price from $2,800 psf in October 2020, she added.
Besides Hyll on Holland, another 119 luxury homes were snapped up at other prime district projects, Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, said. Leedon Green moved 31 units, Fourth Avenue Residences sold 12 units and Irwell Hill Residences 11 units.
Other best-selling projects included Treasure at Tampines, Normanton Park, The Florence Residences, Avenue South Residence, Parc Clematis and Amber Park.
More Singaporeans bought homes priced between $1.5 million and $2 million last month, after cashing out their existing HDB flats, said Mr Yip.
More than 40 per cent of sales last month were priced below $1.5 million, 31 per cent were between $1.5 million and $2 million, and 27 per cent were above $2 million. The average price paid for a unit last month was $1.82 million, Huttons said.
Despite lower sales in May and June 2021, the tally for the first half of 2021 was an estimated 6,528 new private homes sold, about 67 per cent higher than that for the same period a year ago, Cushman & Wakefield said.
Unsold supply has dropped for eight consecutive quarters to 21,634 units as at the first quarter this year - a record low since the fourth quarter of 2017, and compared with a peak of 37,799 units in first quarter of 2019, Mr Wong Xian Yang, head of research for Singapore at Cushman & Wakefield, said.
With an estimated 3,035 units sold in the second quarter of this year, unsold inventory will continue depleting further, prompting developers to ramp up on land banking, he said.