Developers of ECs get creative to woo buyers

Developers of executive condominiums (ECs) are becoming more creative in their efforts to attract buyers amid softer market conditions.

Some have introduced new types of facilities in their projects, while others are offering yoga, dance and baking classes.

An upcoming EC in Sengkang, called The Vales EC, will offer two-storey villa units. They are a sprawling 159 square metres each and come with private parking lots. Developer SingHaiyi claims it is the first EC project in Singapore to offer such units, aimed at differentiating it from other developments.

Mr Gary Lim, sales and marketing director of SingHaiyi Group, said: “If you see our history so far, we have launched City Life with the hotel theme, so we try to do something (different) every time we launch an executive condominium in Singapore.”

The developer said pricing for the project has not been fixed, but it is expected to be competitive to the nearby Bellewaters EC, which launched at a median price of S$813 psf in November last year. The Vales will open for e-application first on Jul 3, with booking to start on Jul 18.

The Vales is not the only one in the EC market with innovative offerings to draw buyers.

For Westwood Residences, which opened for booking on May 30, cycling has been the buzzword. It will have about 500 parking lots for bicycles, a bicycle maintenance area and even an outdoor mini velodrome. The Jurong West project is said to be the first EC in Singapore to offer such facilities.

Meanwhile, Lake Life, which launched last November, will provide a whole range of classes to its occupants – from baking, dance, tennis to even True Yoga lessons.

According to market watchers, EC developers are facing greater competition in the market today. As of last month, 4,176 EC units remained unsold, compared to 2,738 in May 2014.

However, it is not just other EC projects that the developers have to watch out for. Analysts added that other project types are also upping their game.

Dr Lee Nai Jia, head of research (Singapore) at DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, said: “If you look at the new HDB developments, they are also getting better in terms of quality, in terms of architecture. They are looking better and better these days. So I think what happens is that the EC developments are trying to think of new ways to attract people, and they look at how they can create a community and lifestyle.”

The household income cap of S$12,000 monthly means that EC developers also have a smaller pool of buyers to target. Investors with deeper pockets may also shy away from the sector, due to subletting and resale restrictions.

Another analyst said the price trends in the larger housing market have also driven EC developers to be more creative with their products.

Mr Nicholas Mak, executive director of research and consultancy at SLP International Property Consultants, said ECs are a form of housing that is sandwiched between public and private housing.

“So, they usually become more popular when the price gap between private housing and public housing starts to widen. But in recent years, this gap has started to narrow and this has hence put pressure on some developers,” he added.

As many as seven new EC projects could be launched later this year, with the Vales EC open for booking next month. E-applications for another EC development by City Development, located at Canberra Drive, are also expected to open in July.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 19 Jun 2015

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