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S’pore launches pushed back as developers gauge sentiment

Some projects being launched overseas first, others struggle to finish showflats

(SINGAPORE) Developers here are holding back residential launches due to poor market sentiment – and in some cases are choosing to launch their projects overseas first as they wait for market sentiment here to recover.

Launches are also being held back as showflats are being delayed amidst a construction squeeze, market watchers said.

Major launches that can be expected over the next few months include City Developments’s Wilkie Studio and The Quayside Collection, Far East Organization’s Floridian and Cairnhill View, GuocoLand’s Goodwood Residences,

the Lippo Group’s Marina Collection and Wing Tai’s Belle Vue and L’VIV.

While several upcoming projects have most of the necessary approvals to launch in place, some of them are being held back in anticipation of a market recovery, BT understands.

‘Currently, we don’t know if Singaporeans will be willing to fork out that kind of money,’ said one developer who has yet to start selling the company’s project in Singapore. However, the luxury condominium in question is already being marketed abroad, with about half of the units sold to foreigners at prices exceeding $2,500 per square foot (psf).

In a recent report, UBS Investment Research also noted that several projects have obtained permission to launch in the past three months, but the launches were delayed due to the weak market sentiment.

‘Some projects with permits to launch in August and September have been held back due to weak sentiments,’ said the investment bank’s research unit in a recent note. ‘We expect these to be launched in late November or early 2008.’

Others point out that while some of the delays can be attributed to the poor market sentiment, showflats for some of the projects are not yet ready.

‘Sentiment is one reason for the quiet market,’ said Ku Swee Yong, director of marketing and business development at Savills Singapore. ‘But even if the market sentiment is good, some developers still can’t launch their projects because the showflats aren’t ready.’

One example is Lippo’s Marina Collection, Mr Ku said. The showflat for the 124-unit project is yet to be completed, he said. The project was supposed to have been launched last month.

Some developers are choosing to launch their projects overseas first. United Engineers, which is developing the 40-unit Sui Generis in the Balmoral area through a joint venture with Japan-based Kajima Corporation, recently said that it has sold 17 apartments via overseas previews in Indonesia and Hong Kong over the past two months.

The Singapore launch, on the other hand, is only planned for next year although the showflat is ready, BT understands.

Similarly, other developers are also waiting for next year to market their projects.

The weaker market sentiment also means that fewer projects are applying for permits to launch.

In October, for example, just three new projects received permits to launch, UBS said – City Developments’s Shelford Suites, Hayden Properties’ Ritz-Carlton Residences and a condominium at Kim Yam Road by Frasers Centrepoint.

However, industry players are confident that the market will recover soon – bringing with it a whole slew of project launches in the new year.

Some projects that went ahead with their planned launches recently did well. At Ritz-Carlton Residences, which started selling over the weekend, take-up was good and prices hit $5,000 psf, sources said.


Source: Business Times 27 Nov 07


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