2016 marks highest number of developer sales in 3 years

Developers have already sold more new, private residential units and executive condominiums (ECs) so far this year than the whole of last year, thanks to the momentum sustained in November when two new projects were launched. This means 2016 will mark the highest number of new sales by developers in three years.

A total of 7,769 private residential units were sold by developers in the first 11 months, surpassing last year’s 7,440 units.

Another 3,804 ECs were sold in the same 2016 period, exceeding the 2,550 ECs sold in 2015.

Last month, residential sales clocked by developers were stronger than a year ago but weaker compared to October, according to statistics released by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) on Thursday based on its developers’ sales survey.

A total of 860 new, private residential units were sold last month, a 31.4 per cent decline from October but 13.3 per cent higher than a year ago.

Including the 250 ECs sold during the month, they sold a total 1,110 units, which marked a 28 per cent decline from a month ago but a 17.5 per cent increase compared to last year.

JLL national director of research and consultancy Ong Teck Hui said: “The surge in (private residential) transactions in October and November to 2,113 units exceeds the 1,308 units sold in the same period in 2015 by 61.5 per cent.

“Assuming new, private home sales of 300 to 500 units in December, Q4 2016 could end with 2,400 to 2,600 units sold, the strongest quarter for the year, a contrast to what is usually a slower quarter.

“What this means is that demand for new, private homes could have turned the corner from the market slowdown of the last three years and is poised to improve in 2017.”

CBRE Research head for Singapore and South-east Asia Desmond Sim noted that buyers are motivated by a few factors.

Firstly, competitive prices offer better value. Secondly, buyers are moving to lock-in home loan packages before interest rates rise further.

The city-fringe region, or the Rest of Central Region (RCR), accounted for 48.6 per cent of private residential sales in November, followed by the suburbs, or Outside Central Region (OCR), at 47 per cent. Due to a dearth of new launches in the Core Central Region (CCR), sales in the prime region accounted for only 4.4 per cent.

As expected, the two bestsellers in November were new launches by Hao Yuan Investment and EL Development.

Queens Peak, a project by Hao Yuan Investment at Dundee Road, moved 271 units in November at a median price of S$1,628 per square foot (psf), while Parc Riviera by EL Development at West Coast Vale sold 128 units at a median S$1,189 psf.

PropNex chief executive Ismail Gafoor noted that November’s sales show that underlying demand is still present if prices are attractive.

Collectively, the two projects accounted for more than 46 per cent of the total number of units sold during the month.

But with issues still plaguing the private residential market stemming from physical oversupply of homes, on-going stringent property measures and loan curbs, developers will proceed with caution by “taking a slow and deliberate approach in launching their projects, as well as having a competitive pricing strategy to further entice buyers”, Mr Gafoor said.

ERA Realty key executive officer Eugene Lim noted that small units were the main draw at the two launched projects in November, with one and two-bedroom units making up 90 per cent and 86 per cent of total sales at Queens Peak and Parc Riviera, respectively.

While December is expected to be a quieter month, sales may pick up again next year in the February to May window when several projects are set to be launched, he said.

SLP International executive director Nicholas Mak noted that with the 8,000-8,200 private housing unit sales by developers this entire year and likely more private residential units transacted in the secondary market this year than in 2015, the private residential market appears to be recovering.

In the next 16 months, another 4,000 private residential units could be launched for sale in projects that are developed on Government Land Sales sites that were sold, Mr Mak projected.

In addition, three EC projects consisting of 1,650 units in total could also be launched in the next 16 months.

CBRE’s Mr Sim added that buyers will have to weigh a few factors in the coming year – the economic outlook, their credit health against a series of impending Fed rate hikes and the impact on lending rates in Singapore, and pricing, which will be determined by project attributes, location, and very competitive land bids.

“Despite the increased sales this year, CBRE is projecting slightly lower sales for 2017 at around 7,000 to 7,500 units,” he said.

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