Tepid weekend for property market

Lukewarm sales at two show-flats a sign that new loan rules are having effect

Number of units sold at The Skywoods: 45 out of 150. -- PHOTO: TA CORPORATION
Number of units sold at The Skywoods: 45 out of 150. -- PHOTO: TA CORPORATION
Number of units sold at The Glades: 80 out of 200. -- PHOTO: KEPPEL CORPORATION
Number of units sold at The Glades: 80 out of 200. -- PHOTO: KEPPEL CORPORATION

Fresh signs have emerged that the Government's new, stricter loan framework unveiled in June is slowing home sales.

Over the weekend, sales at two show-flats that opened for bookings - The Glades and The Skywoods - were tepid.

Sales at the executive condominium (EC) Sea Horizon bucked the trend with healthy weekend sales.

But that was mainly because ECs are not as significantly affected by the new loan framework, analysts say.

About 300 units were snapped up at the 495-unit development in Pasir Ris when it opened for customer bookings on Saturday.

Things were much slower at Keppel Land's 726-unit The Glades in Tanah Merah, where about 80 of 200 units released were sold at an average price of about $1,500 per sq ft (psf).

It was a similar story at The Skywoods, jointly developed by TA Corporation, Hock Lian Seng Holdings, King Wan Corp and Far East Distillers, which moved 45 of 150 units released.

Units at the 420-unit project were launched at a sale price of about $1,250 psf.

Analysts believe the new lending rules have been successful at taming a once-buoyant property market, analysts said.

Under the new total debt servicing ratio (TDSR), a borrower's total monthly debt repayments are capped at no more than 60 per cent of his gross monthly income.

"Gone are the days when there would be an overwhelming response at a new launch. In the past, if borrowers had very good credit, banks didn't mind lending them the money," said Mr Chris Koh, director of property consultancy Chris International.

"But today... even if you have spare cash, you wouldn't want to lock it up in property. You would rather leverage on the mortgage and low interest rates, and use the cash elsewhere."

With the end of the Hungry Ghost Festival, more projects will soon be launched, meaning stiffer competition for those trying to sell new developments, said Knight Frank research head Alice Tan.

SLP International research head Nicholas Mak said homebuyers are much more price-sensitive now, and that developers may have to review their pricing strategies in this new climate.

Last week, TA Corporation chief executive Neo Tiam Boon announced that average prices for The Skywoods had been lowered from $1,300 psf to $1,250 psf, saying "the issue today is not that there are no buyers. There are a lot of interested people who want to buy, but they could not get a loan."

UOL Group president (property) Liam Wee Sin also announced last week that the firm and its partner SingLand would be launching the upcoming Thomson Three condo at an average price of $1,350 to $1,400 psf - down from $1,500 psf.

Despite the lower prices, analysts say buyers may still be wary of buying another property on the back of the loan restrictions.

Mr Mak said the Pasir Ris EC's sales figures were quite good, as EC buyers are less affected by the TDSR.

He said banks will consider the monthly repayment towards the EC on top of other debt obligations, only if the buyer's sole property is an HDB flat. As a result, buying demand from HDB upgraders might be diverted from the mass-market private homes segment to the EC market, he said.