Condo launch goes ahead despite gloom

Developer to roll out Woodlands project on back of solid soft launch

A DEVELOPER is rolling out a rare condominium launch in Woodlands this weekend – optimistic that lower-than-planned prices will draw buyers, despite the gloomy market conditions.

EL Development is launching the 99-year leasehold, 200-unit Rosewood Suites at $580 per sq ft (psf) on average.

The developer held a sneak preview to test the market a fortnight ago and then a soft launch last weekend, when it sold half of the 60 units launched.

Launches have been few and far between in recent months as most developers continue to hold off, given the volatile markets and poor sentiment.

‘We tested the market…and we were pleasantly surprised that the response was good, so we are going ahead with the launch,’ said Mr Lim Yew Soon, managing director of EL Development, a unit of local builder Evan Lim & Co.

‘If we had waited till next year, there would be a lot of competition. It’s better to have a first-mover advantage.’

Rosewood Suites is a five-storey development with one- to four-bedroom apartments. It is in Rosewood Drive, next to the 99-year, 478-unit Casablanca condominium and opposite Innova Junior College. The popular suburban mall, Causeway Point, and Woodlands MRT station are both within walking distance.

Prices start from $435,000 for a two-bedroom unit and go up to $1.1 million for a four-bedroom ground-floor unit. This works out to $500psf to $660psf.

‘Our earlier price expectations were higher. We benchmarked current prices against the prices of older condos in the area,’ said Mr Lim. Those who bought at the soft launch received a 2 per cent discount from these price levels, he said.

‘It is a fair value in today’s market,’ said Knight Frank director of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak. ‘There has not been a major development launch in the area for a long time so there will be some latent HDB upgrader demand.’

Mr Lim said the buyers were mostly dwellers of nearby flats and condominiums. There are two other condominiums in Rosewood Drive – Casablanca and Rosewood.

At Casablanca, two caveats lodged in September and October showed that two 1,184sqft units were sold at $541psf and $549psf, or $640,000 and $650,000.

Caveats lodged in the same months at the 437-unit Rosewood showed that two 1,173sqft units were sold for $537psf to $550psf, or at $630,000 and $645,000.

Rosewood Suites’ penthouses, priced from $700,000 to $1.4 million, will be released only when ‘times are better’.

EL Development bought the Rosewood Suites site from the Singapore Land Authority in November last year when prices were strong. It topped a tender that drew eight bidders with a price of $56 million or $232psf per plot ratio.

Mr Lim had then said that they had planned to launch the project in the third quarter of this year, and sell it for about $600 psf to $650 psf.

Source : Straits Times – 14 Nov 2008

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