Strongest January private home sales in 8 years

New private home sales last month notched the highest January figure in eight years, as developers went all out with new launches including the mega Normanton Park and The Reef at King's Dock, both of which accounted for more than 50 per cent of all units sold.

Speculation about another possible round of property curbs also helped boost last month's sales by more than 32 per cent to 1,609 units from 1,217 in December, some analysts say.

Compared with a year ago, sales excluding executive condominiums (ECs) soared nearly 160 per cent.

These are the strongest January sales since 2013, when 2,028 units were transacted, and the highest monthly sales since July 2018's 1,724 units - when buyers rushed in before cooling measures took effect on July 6, 2018.

New units launched last month skyrocketed 335 per cent from a year ago, and are up 93 per cent from December.

The high number of housing units launched last month could be a response to "veiled warnings" of more property market curbs from the Government, said ERA Realty's head of research and consultancy, Mr Nicholas Mak.

Ms Christine Sun, OrangeTee & Tie's senior vice-president of research and analytics, said on-the-fence buyers took the plunge on concerns that prices could trend higher as the global economy is expected to recover this year.

Already, last month's median price for new non-landed homes rose to $1,778 per sq ft (psf), from $1,734 psf in the fourth quarter last year and $1,682 psf in the third quarter, suggesting a sustained increase in prices, JLL Singapore's senior director of research and consultancy Ong Teck Hui said.

About 67 per cent of units sold last month were less than 800 sq ft in size and about 63 per cent were below $1.5 million, he added.

Local buyers continued to account for the bulk of new sales last month, with Singaporeans accounting for about 83 per cent of transactions, according to Urban Redevelopment Authority Real Estate Information System (URA Realis) data.

Ms Wong Siew Ying, head of research and content at PropNex, said: "Demand from foreign buyers remained muted due to travel restrictions. Based on caveats lodged, 89 new homes were sold to overseas buyers in January, up from 38 and 30 in December and November 2020, respectively."

The top seller was Normanton Park, which launched all 1,862 units and sold 625 units last month.

Including ECs, which are a public-private housing hybrid, total developer sales last month came to 2,098 units, up 65.8 per cent month on month, and up nearly 228 per cent from a year ago.

Developers sold 489 ECs last month, compared with 48 units sold in December, and 20 sold a year ago, Colliers International head of research (Singapore) Tricia Song said.

HDB upgraders piled into the 700-unit Parc Central Residences in Tampines - the first EC launch this year, snapping up 417 units, analysts say.

This made it the second bestseller last month, followed by the 429-unit The Reef at King's Dock, which moved 221 units.

Location and some new launches' attractive attributes helped drive good take-up rates, said PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor.

The Reef, for instance, saw good demand as some bought into the potential of the greater Southern Waterfront development and the project's proximity to the HarbourFront MRT interchange. Further, there has not been a new launch in the HarbourFront area in years.

Excluding new launch sales, sales from existing projects stood at 763 units, which is at "a sustainable pace", Huttons Asia research director Lee Sze Teck said. Among the top movers were Ki Residences at Brookvale, Treasure at Tampines, Jadescape, Parc Clematis and The Garden Residences.

This month is likely to see a sequential decline in sales, given a lack of new launches and the Chinese New Year holidays, Ms Song said.

Despite the anticipated economic recovery, "we expect buying power to be partially offset by fewer new launches. So buyers will likely have to dip into ongoing launches, or go into the secondary market", she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2021, with the headline 'Strongest January private home sales in 8 years'. Subscribe