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New home sales remain low with cautious property market

Developers launching fewer units as fears over US slowdown, stock volatility linger

CAUTION remains the watchword in the property market, with buyers still kept on the sidelines by concerns over the United States economy and choppy stock markets.

Developers sold just 316 new homes last month – a tad up on the 305 sold in December – and launched only 410 units, compared with December’s 445.

Prices also reflected the uncertain mood and remained largely flat, with overall median prices showing a slight dip.

The removal of the deferred payment scheme has brought transactions to a more sustainable level, according to property services firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

There were some bright spots. Wilkie 80 in Wilkie Road was sold out, while Waterfront Waves in Bedok Reservoir Road reported favourable sales. They made up 41 per cent of all new units sold last month, according to the sales figures out yesterday.

The pinch was felt most in the high-end sector, with few homes sold and none above $4,000 per sq ft (psf).

This is a sign that the high-end segment may be experiencing a ‘challenging period’, said Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak.

The new figures, which came from developers but were released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, show that some of the heat may have come out of the market.

Median prices for new private homes, excluding executive condos and landed homes, fell 3.2 per cent from $1,124 psf in December to $1,088 psf last month.

The lowest transacted price was $737 psf for a unit at Coastal View Residences in Jalan Loyang Besar, while Scotts Square in Scotts Road achieved the highest at $3,671.

Projects outside the central region performed best. There were more sales, and the 220 units launched marked the highest since last August.

Buyers at the leasehold Waterfront Waves picked up 79 units and pushed prices up to $909 psf.

In the mid-end segment, Wilkie 80 was sold out at a median price of $1,544 psf. Zenith in Zion Road, launched in December, sold 22 units, while 12 out of 50 units at Mount Sophia Suites went for a median price of $1,719 psf. At the landed project Pavilion Park, 24 terrace houses sold at between $1.8 million and $2 million.

Consultants project lower sales this month, as the Chinese New Year festival will deter buyers from venturing into the market.

‘However, developers are likely to maintain prices at current levels as they monitor the market situation,’ said Mr Li Hiaw Ho, the executive director of CBRE Research.

Mr Mak expects sales volume for the first quarter to remain thin due to uncertainties over the US economy and stock market turbulence. More developers are delaying or reviewing launches, particularly high-end ones.

‘The challenging period experienced in the high-end segment is expected to continue, but the fall in the volume could be compensated by the steady volume in the other segments,’ he added.

Colliers International director for research and consultancy Tay Huey Ying said: ‘We see the mass and mid-end segments supported by en bloc sellers looking for replacement homes.’

Developers could end up launching and selling up to 9,000 new private homes this year, compared with 14,811 last year, she said.

 

Source: The Straits Times 16 Feb 08

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