Against expectations, new private home sales soar

Defying market expectations, sales of new private homes surged 29 per cent last month from March to 1,788 units, driven by robust demand in the mass market sector from HDB upgraders, data released yesterday by the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed

That’s the highest number of transactions since last November, as buyers returned in force after a temporary lull in February following the introduction of the fourth round of property market cooling measures in January that included stamp duties as high as 16 per cent.

PropNex’s communications head Adam Tan said: “It is clear that homeowners and investors alike have assimilated the last cooling measures announced on Jan 13. This has resulted in continuing buyer confidence that has seen steadily increasing sales since February.”

Analysts say the fear of runaway home prices may have further fuelled sentiment last month, adding to the snowballing effect as buyers bought their way through more property launches.

Ms Chia Siew Chuin, director of research and advisory at property consultancy Colliers International, said, “There are also buyers who probably entered the market because they could be fearing that they may miss the boat and therefore would commit to the market before prices run away again.”

For April, suburban areas led private home sales again, with 1,010 units sold last month, while city fringe areas achieved sales of 477 units, and central region homes saw the least sales with 301 units.

And amid the persistently high liquidity environment, analysts remain upbeat, noting that most buyers are choosing smaller and cheaper units in suburban areas.

PropNex’s Mr Tan noted that “56.2 per cent of all the units sold were in the mass market, or under S$1,200 per square foot. The strong showing in the mass market indicates the sustained interest in private property by HDB upgraders.”

Two mass market projects accounted for 564 units or roughly one-third of April’s transactions, PropNex noted, with 340 units in Eight Courtyards in Yishun (picture) sold at a median price of $789psf, while 224 units Hedges Park in Upper Changi were sold at a median price of $889psf.

Mr Ku Swee Yong, chief executive officer at International Property Advisor, said: “Next two months, depending on how many new projects are in the pipeline, if there are 1,500 units launched, we could see a take up of maybe about 1,300 to 1,500 units again.”

Including Executive Condominiums, new home sales totalled 1,901 last month, up from 1,543 units in March.

Developers also rolled out more properties last month, after fears of a nuclear crisis caused by the March 11 earthquake in Japan eased. A total of 2,046 units were launched, a 64 per cent rise from March.

With the property market remaining hot, some analysts expect it won’t be long before the Government takes action again.

Colliers’ Ms Chia said: “Further measures are likely to be imposed going forward should the numbers continue to show that it is going to be so robust.”

Other analysts say the Government will more likely introduce further measures to help first-time HDB flat buyers instead of targeting speculation in the private property market.

Source : Today – 17 May 2011

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