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Subsales picking up after lull as sellers temper their demands

Lock in profit if margin is good, some agents advise

(SINGAPORE) After a lull of about six weeks, activity seems to be picking up in the subsale market on the back of the stock market rally and more reasonable demands from sellers.

‘It’s not as good as before sub-prime but much better than during the subprime, from mid-July to mid-August,’ said CB Richard Ellis executive director (residential) Joseph Tan.

‘There have been definitely more inquiries and there’s been more response to ads. Whether this will lead to more subsale volume is hard to say,’ he added.

Jerrytan Residential Pte Ltd executive director Jason Tan too has seen a ‘mild pick-up’ in subsales of condos in Districts 9 and 10 in the past couple of weeks or so ever since the stock markets in the US and Singapore started rising again.

ERA Realty Network divisional director Andrew Soh too has seen more subsale deals in the last two to three weeks in the Sentosa Cove and Marina Bay locations. A unit at Oceanfront condo at Sentosa Cove was sold for $2,550 per square foot in the subsale market two weeks ago, reaping the seller a handsome profit of over $2 million as he had purchased the unit (also in the subsale market) in September last year for $1,750 psf.

Jerrytan Residential’s Mr Tan says: ‘Sellers are lowering their expectations after the reality check provided by the sub-prime stock market crash. But they’re still making healthy profits as they may have bought the units a little while ago.’

For instance, the owner of a unit at The Grange recently sold his 2,300 sq ft apartment in the subsale market for about $2,500 psf or a total of about $5.76 million, against his original purchase price of about $1,450 psf from the developer around July 2005. His net profit after factoring in agents’ fees, stamp duty and legal fees would be around $2.2 million.

In some instances, the spur to sell in the subsale market and take a profit now is that the projects may be receiving Temporary Occupation Permit (TOP) within the next year and those who bought their units on deferred payment schemes from the developer, paying only 20 per cent of the purchase price so far, will soon have to pay up another 65 per cent of their purchase price.

‘Our advice to these investors is that if there is a good margin from their investment, they could lock in their profit now. They can always reinvest in another property,’ Mr Jason Tan says.

‘Buyers picking up units through the subsale market are also starting to feel more confident again, after the stock market’s recovery. They’re prepared to hold the properties as a mid- to long-term investment but are also eyeing the possibility of selling much sooner, when the projects receive TOP. The outlook is still good, as there will be limited supply of completed brand-new developments in Districts 9 and 10 over the next six to 12 months,’ he added.

However, ERA’s Mr Soh sounds more cautious. ‘Supply in the subsale market is more than demand. I may be wrong but I think the high-end residential property clock is at 9 o’clock. My advice is to take a profit now and not be too greedy. Supply in the subsale market is greater than demand. It’s tough to find buyers in the subsale market now, unless you go overseas.’

Colliers International’s analysis of caveats captured by the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Realis system shows that the months of May, June and July saw the most subsale activity in the first eight months of 2007, with more than 600 such deals in each of these three months.

The Sail @ Marina Bay, Citylights, Icon and The Lakeshore, were the most widely traded projects in the subsale market in the May-July period with 151, 93, 90 and 68 transactions respectively.

However, subsales fell drastically by more than 50 per cent to just 299 transactions in August. ‘Usually, caveats are lodged upon the option being exercised, so a slowdown in subsales from mid-July would only be reflected in the caveats about two weeks later, starting August,’ says the firm’s director of research and consultancy Tay Huey Ying.

She forecasts that subsale activity will stage a rebound.


Source: Business Times 9 Oct 07

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